Noam Chomsky: What are Iran's intentions?

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  1. Serpentine
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    As tensions flare between Iran and the West, 120 nonaligned nations agree: the country has the right to enrich uranium.
    BY NOAM CHOMSKY

    The January/February issue of Foreign Affairs featured the article “Time to Attack Iran: Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option,” by Matthew Kroenig, along with commentary about other ways to contain the Iranian threat.

    The media resound with warnings about a likely Israeli attack on Iran while the U.S. hesitates, keeping open the option of aggression—thus again routinely violating the U.N. Charter, the foundation of international law.

    As tensions escalate, eerie echoes of the run-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are in the air. Feverish U.S. primary campaign rhetoric adds to the drumbeat.

    Concerns about “the imminent threat” of Iran are often attributed to the “international community”—code language for U.S. allies. The people of the world, however, tend to see matters rather differently.

    The nonaligned countries, a movement with 120 member nations, has vigorously supported Iran’s right to enrich uranium—an opinion shared by the majority of Americans (as surveyed by WorldPublicOpinion.org) before the massive propaganda onslaught of the past two years.

    China and Russia oppose U.S. policy on Iran, as does India, which announced that it would disregard U.S. sanctions and increase trade with Iran. Turkey has followed a similar course.

    Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. In the Arab world, Iran is disliked but seen as a threat only by a very small minority. Rather, Israel and the U.S. are regarded as the pre-eminent threat. A majority think that the region would be more secure if Iran had nuclear weapons: In Egypt on the eve of the Arab Spring, 90 percent held this opinion, according to Brookings Institution/Zogby International polls.


    Western commentary has made much of how the Arab dictators allegedly support the U.S. position on Iran, while ignoring the fact that the vast majority of the population opposes it—a stance too revealing to require comment.

    Concerns about Israel’s nuclear arsenal have long been expressed by some observers in the United States as well. Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, described Israel’s nuclear weapons as “dangerous in the extreme.” In a U.S. Army journal, Lt. Col. Warner Farr wrote that one “purpose of Israeli nuclear weapons, not often stated, but obvious, is their `use’ on the United States”—presumably to ensure consistent U.S. support for Israeli policies.

    A prime concern right now is that Israel will seek to provoke some Iranian action that will incite a U.S. attack.

    One of Israel’s leading strategic analysts, Zeev Maoz, in “Defending the Holy Land,” his comprehensive analysis of Israeli security and foreign policy, concludes that “the balance sheet of Israel’s nuclear policy is decidedly negative”—harmful to the state’s security. He urges instead that Israel should seek a regional agreement to ban weapons of mass destruction: a WMD-free zone, called for by a 1974 U.N. General Assembly resolution.

    Meanwhile, the West’s sanctions on Iran are having their usual effect, causing shortages of basic food supplies—not for the ruling clerics but for the population. Small wonder that the sanctions are condemned by Iran’s courageous opposition.

    The sanctions against Iran may have the same effect as their predecessors against Iraq, which were condemned as “genocidal” by the respected U.N. diplomats who administered them before finally resigning in protest.

    The Iraq sanctions devastated the population and strengthened Saddam Hussein, probably saving him from the fate of a rogues’ gallery of other tyrants supported by the U.S.-U.K.—tyrants who prospered virtually to the day when various internal revolts overthrew them.

    There is little credible discussion of just what constitutes the Iranian threat, though we do have an authoritative answer, provided by U.S. military and intelligence. Their presentations to Congress make it clear that Iran doesn’t pose a military threat.

    Iran has very limited capacity to deploy force, and its strategic doctrine is defensive, designed to deter invasion long enough for diplomacy to take effect. If Iran is developing nuclear weapons (which is still undetermined), that would be part of its deterrent strategy.

    The understanding of serious Israeli and U.S. analysts is expressed clearly by 30-year CIA veteran Bruce Riedel, who said in January, “If I was an Iranian national security planner, I would want nuclear weapons” as a deterrent.

    An additional charge the West levels against Iran is that it is seeking to expand its influence in neighboring countries attacked and occupied by the U.S. and Britain, and is supporting resistance to the U.S.-backed Israeli aggression in Lebanon and illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Like its deterrence of possible violence by Western countries, Iran’s actions are said to be intolerable threats to “global order.”

    Global opinion agrees with Maoz. Support is overwhelming for a WMDFZ in the Middle East; this zone would include Iran, Israel and preferably the other two nuclear powers that have refused to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: India and Pakistan, who, along with Israel, developed their programs with U.S. aid.

    Support for this policy at the NPT Review Conference in May 2010 was so strong that Washington was forced to agree formally, but with conditions: The zone could not take effect until a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors was in place; Israel’s nuclear weapons programs must be exempted from international inspection; and no country (meaning the U.S.) must be obliged to provide information about “Israeli nuclear facilities and activities, including information pertaining to previous nuclear transfers to Israel.”

    The 2010 conference called for a session in May 2012 to move toward establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

    With all the furor about Iran, however, there is scant attention to that option, which would be the most constructive way of dealing with the nuclear threats in the region: for the “international community,” the threat that Iran might gain nuclear capability; for most of the world, the threat posed by the only state in the region with nuclear weapons and a long record of aggression, and its superpower patron.

    One can find no mention at all of the fact that the U.S. and Britain have a unique responsibility to dedicate their efforts to this goal. In seeking to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq, they invoked U.N. Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), which they claimed Iraq was violating by developing WMD.

    We may ignore the claim, but not the fact that the resolution explicitly commits signers to establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East.

    What Are Iran’s Intentions?
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  2. sexy gun
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    sexy gun BANNED

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    Well Mr.Ahmedijenad hasn't really helped to calm things down either. Every other day he will issue a threat to wipe off Israel from the face of this earth.

    I as an Indian, wouldn't mind Iran strengthening your country's defenses by whatever means but why this aggressive mode ?

    Is it so hard to understand that some things are best done in a secretive way and by being less aggressive ?

    We also developed Nukes but we never issued any threat to wipe pakistan/or any other country from face of this earth ? Neither did pakistan ?

    My motto regarding developing of nukes is simple, "SILENCE IS GOD"
  3. Serpentine
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    Serpentine INT'L MOD

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    For the thousandth time,Iran never said 'it' will wipe Israel off the map.Ahmadinejad just said 'The Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem will vanish from pages of time'.Is it that hard to understand that Iran is not going to attack Israel by military force?
    I have a question,did U.S wipe Soviet Union off the map by carpet bombing them?If Iran has any intentions to do so,it will be like this,not attacking Israel (And that's the most stupid idea though).
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  4. sexy gun
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    sexy gun BANNED

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    Coming up with comments like these when the entire nation is at the edge of receiving sanctions is hardly a job well done. IMO, he should just keep quiet and let Iran develop in an environment conducive to progress and development. After all it is the actions or real work which matters rather than just words.

    #US didn't wipe USSR since they had nukes. Simple. One nuke is enough to send a country to stone age. Be it IRAN or US or INDIA.
  5. anon45
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    anon45 SENIOR MEMBER

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    The article is a failure. Noam gives a bunch of half-truths much like he usually does and tries to make them something they aren't, and in the end shifts the spotlight to Israel without validating his header, clarifying his view on Iran's intentions.


    Iran has the right to enrich Uranium, it does not have the right to pursue a nuclear weapons program as a signatory to the NPT. Chomsky knows this and deliberately refrains from mentioning it.

    Once again, Chomsky never once gives his personal opinion on Iran's intentions, he simply shifts the talk to Israel, not necessarily out of the norm for him, but avoiding the question.
  6. rubyjackass
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    rubyjackass SENIOR MEMBER

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    I don't know the exact translation of what Ahmedinejad said. But if what you say is true, then it is a massive failure of Iranian government and their diaspora in not bringing this point across, while the pro-Israeli spokespersons and press were going gung-ho on the airwaves. Now its too late. The subject is tossed to the academics now. What remained is an impression in the American public that another holocaust is looming.
  7. Hussein
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    Hussein SENIOR MEMBER

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    Indeed it is not Ahmadinejad words. He was saying the words of Khomeini. And yes it was mistranslated by purpose.

    Anyway interesting article. Thanks.
    Noam Chomsky is a strong support to the green movment :) :cheers:
  8. rubyjackass
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    rubyjackass SENIOR MEMBER

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    Legally Iran can withdraw from NPT anytime, after all the unprecedented war threats it is facing now constitute valid "extraordinary events". NPT does not take away the right of any country to make nuclear weapons. Please know the facts before slinging mud on Chomsky. He clearly takes a position on Iran's intentions, giving supporting evidence in the form of quotes from some notable people and some respectable poll results(people wont be comfortable with Iran's weapons if they are not comfortable with its intentions). Have you even read the article?!
  9. Serpentine
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    Serpentine INT'L MOD

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    Well you are right that has only one reason: Their media is much much much more powerful than us,that's why they can control people's minds that easy.Actually everyone knows that what Ahmadinejad said was a mistranslated,but people in U.S and the west are only being told that 'Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map'.

    Actually,your logic is a total failure.
    1.bring a proof that Iran is making a nuclear weapons.
    2.Why no one asks Israel about its nuclear weapons?Why Israel doesn't sign NPT?Why everyone sees nuclear weapons as a God-given right for Israel?
    3.NPT is not only about not developing nuclear weapons,it also binds all nuclear power members to dismantle all their nuclear weapons. What has U.S done to reach that goal?
    4.Israel can attack anyone it dislikes while having strong support from the west.They publicly threaten Iran with war.Is that fair?While we have not attacked a single country in 150 years before?
    5.Iran can withdraw from NPT,so should it be still under sanctions if that happens?Is it legal then?
    6.Leon Panetta said that Iran is not making nuclear weapons and has not decided to build one.So can i ask why the hell are you putting sanctions on my country?For not deciding to make a nuclear weapon?For signing NPT?For Israel's favor?For letting IAEA inspectors to inspect all nuclear facilities 24/7?
    US is the biggest hypocrite in the world.
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  10. rubyjackass
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    rubyjackass SENIOR MEMBER

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    No excuses please. You failed to realize where 21st century battles are fought and you lost on account of absence from the field. You might want to believe that everyone in the west 'knows' about the mistranslation, but if that is true why does it not reflect in their foreign policy debates? It is a failure when you could not counter the alleged propaganda. The least your government can do is to send prepared transcripts of high profile speeches to international news agencies. I don't mean to pinch you on this, I understand that you admit that it was a failure.
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  11. Serpentine
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    Yes i agree,we too have done a little to counter this.I made a mistake for saying everyone know about the mistranslation.I meant everyone who has enough study and doesn't only read or listen to mainstream media in US and the west knows what Ahmadinejad really said.