January 8, 2020

INFANTILIZED AMERICA:

America's Dangerous Iran Obsession (JEFFREY D. SACHS, 1/08/20, Project Syndicate)

Consider the key milestones since the early 1950s.

First, the US and the United Kingdom overthrew Iran's government in 1953, after the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, moved to regain control of Iran's oil, which had been captured by the British empire. The US then replaced the democracy it had overthrown with the authoritarian regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was propped up by the SAVAK, his brutal intelligence agency and secret police, during the quarter-century from 1953 to 1978. The Iranian students seized the US embassy in Tehran after the deposed Shah was admitted to the US for medical treatment.

The following year, the US armed and encouraged Saddam Hussein's Iraq to invade Iran, triggering a nearly decade-long war that killed around 500,000 Iranians. As of 2014, some 75,000 Iranians were still being treated for injuries from the chemical attacks Saddam used.

The US also hit civilian targets. In 1988, the US military shot down Iran Air 655 - easily identifiable as an Airbus A300 if the US had been taking suitable precautions - killing all 290 people on board. And in 1995, the Iranian public became subject to tough US economic sanctions that have never been removed, only tightened over time.

This continued even after 9/11. Iran supported the US-led invasion of Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, and also supported the new US-backed president, Hamid Karzai. Yet in January 2002, US President George W. Bush called Iran part of an "Axis of Evil," along with Saddam's Iraq and North Korea.

Likewise, rather than press all Middle East countries, including Israel (with an estimated 80 nuclear warheads), to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and support efforts to establish a nuclear-free region, the US exclusively pressured Iran.

Then, in 2015, the US, under President Barack Obama, the UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany, negotiated a deal with Iran under which Iran agreed to end its nuclear reprocessing in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions by the US and others. The United Nations Security Council unanimously backed the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Yet, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the JCPOA was an act of appeasement. Trump unilaterally repudiated the deal in 2018, the only signatory to do so, and then dramatically tightened US sanctions.

The purpose of stricter sanctions is not to change Iran's behavior, but to crush the Iranian economy in an attempt to destabilize the regime. Iran is now in a US-induced depression, with GDP down 14% between 2017 and 2019 and inflation in 2019 at 36% (both according to recent IMF estimates), and severe shortages of medicines and other vital goods. Meanwhile, despite repudiating the JCPOA, the US has continued to insist that Iran abide by its terms.

The US, seemingly with no awareness of this history, and led by an emotionally unbalanced president who believes he may commit murder in broad daylight and get away with it, is still acting out a 40-year-old psychological trauma.

It would almost be funny how immature we are about Iran if it weren't so violative of our own ideals.

Posted by at January 8, 2020 4:00 AM

  

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