It’s now widely accepted – and lamented – that US President Barack Obama failed dismally in attempting to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Defeated by Israel’s hard-line Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, and by Israel’s friends in the United States – lobbyists, lawmakers and neo-conservatives – the president simply threw in the towel.
What is less well understood is that Obama was also defeated in another major area of foreign policy – relations with Iran. When he came to office he vowed to ‘engage’ with the Islamic Republic, but this admirable objective was soon supplanted by a policy of threats, sanctions and intimidation aimed at isolating Iran, subverting its economy and overthrowing its regime.
Israel and its friends led the campaign against Iran, demonizing it as a threat to all mankind, and forcing the United States to follow suit. Israel has repeatedly, and very publicly, threatened to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, and has done its best to drag the United States into war against it, in much the same way as pro-Israeli neo-conservatives at the Pentagon were alleged to have manipulated intelligence to push the United States into war against Iraq in 2003, with catastrophic consequences.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Why did they do it? Because they feared that, having survived the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq might just possibly pose a threat to Israel. It had to be destroyed. Tony Blair, Britain’s prime minister at the time, was foolish enough to tag along. The war totally discredited him.
The neo-cons’ strategic fantasy wasn’t just to use American power to smash Iraq. Once Saddam had been dealt with, they are said to have wanted to use the US military again and again to ‘reform’ Syria, Hizbollah, Iran, the Palestinians and even Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Having brushed the Iraqi fiasco under the carpet, Israel and its friends are now doing it again. In recent weeks there has been a flurry of reports that Israel was planning to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities this September – a bluff clearly intended to pressure the United States into taking ever tougher measures against Iran so as to make it unnecessary for Israel to attack.
In addition to such a transparent propaganda ploy, Israel is believed by many over the past two years to have been behind the murder of a number of Iranian nuclear scientists – two were killed and one was seriously injured last year, and a fourth was killed last month.
Meanwhile, Iran’s nuclear programme has been attacked through the introduction of the Stuxnet virus at its nuclear facilities. Not surprisingly, Tehran now views the United States and its Israeli ally as one and the same enemy.
Assassinations and other acts of state terrorism are short-term expedients that usually end up being paid for dearly. Countries have long memories. Hate isn’t easily expunged. The United States, and to a lesser extent Britain, are still paying for their clandestine overthrow in 1953 of Mohammad Mosaddeq, Iran’s democratically-elected prime minister, whose ‘crime’ was to seek to protect Iran’s oil from imperialist predators.