The Bush administration is at it again, returning to the same tactic that worked so well to justify the war in Iraq, this time to justify war on Iran.
I've already written about Iran's barely-existent nuclear research program before. According to the evidence, Iran is something like fifteen thousand centrifuges short of being able to produce weapons-grade uranium. Now Hans Blix, the former UN weapons inspector, has spoken up, stating that Iran's nuclear research program is much more primitive than Iraq's was in 1991.
Even if Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons -- and that's a seriously big IF -- they're no threat at all.
Blix also points out that the Bush administration's "negotiating" tactic with Iran is counter-productive and doomed to failure. As Juan Cole reports:
He points out that Washington's insistence that Iran capitulate to all Bush's demands before negotiations even begin is "humiliating."
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Insisting on total capitulation before negotiations even begin (and then what's left to negotiate?) might make Bush and Cheney feel like big manly men, but that's no way to run a picnic, let alone international relations with a country that can make your day miserable.
Cole also reminds us that:
[the Iranian] Supreme Jurisprudent has given a fatwa against having or using nuclear weapons as illicit in Islamic law. You can't acknowledge that Iran is a dictatorial theocracy and then turn around and say that his fatwa is irrelevant.
Naturally, the Bush administration isn't silly enough to re-use the same mushroom cloud story again. So they have a backup story: Iran, so the story goes, is behind the sudden rash of successful attacks on American tanks in Iraq.
Several weeks ago in Iraq, the Americans gave a military briefing claiming that the highest levels of the Iranian government had ordered the manufacture and supply of powerful explosive devices to Iraqi insurgents.
But the problem with this claim is that the greatest number of successful attacks has been coming from Sunni areas of Iraq, not Shi'ite. Not just blowing up tanks: also shooting down helicopters. Iran, being Shi'ite, is hardly likely to be arming the same Sunni who want the Shi'ites dead. To put it into perspective, imagine Iraq was Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and the British claimed that Catholic Italy was arming the Protestant Ulster Defence Association.
Professor Cole has published a long letter from a reader detailing this issue.