Chomsky: What's At Stake in the Issue of Iran
In an interview with the German publication, Freitag, Noam Chomsky talks about U.S. pressure on Israel and Iran and its geopolitical significance. "Iran is perceived as a threat because they did not obey the orders of the United States. Militarily this threat is irrelevant. This country has not behaved aggressively beyond its borders for centuries. Israel invaded Lebanon with the blessing and help of the U.S. five times in thirty years. Iran has not done anything like this," he says.´
Barak Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 while sending more troops to Afghanistan. What happened to the "change" that was promised?
Chomsky: I am one of the few who is not disappointed with Obama because I placed no expectations on him. I wrote about Obama's positions and prospects of success before the start of his campaign. Saw your website and it was clear to me that this was a moderate Democrat in the style of Bill Clinton. There is of course a lot of rhetoric about hope and change. But this is like a blank sheet where you can write anything. Those who despaired at the recent moves of Bush sought hope. But there is no basis to expect any one time to examine properly the substance of Obama's speech.
His government has treated Iran as a threat due to its uranium enrichment program, while countries that possess nuclear weapons such as India, Pakistan and Israel did not suffer the same pressure. How do you evaluate this way of proceeding?
Chomsky: Iran is perceived as a threat because they did not obey the orders of the United States. Militarily this threat is irrelevant. This country did not act aggressively beyond its borders for centuries. The only aggressive act occurred in the '70s under the Shah's government, when, with U.S. backing, they invaded two Arab islands. Of course nobody wants Iran or any other country to have nuclear weapons. It is known that this state is governed today by a loathsome regime. But apply the same labels that are applied to Iran to partners of the U.S. such as Saudi Arabia or Egypt, and it will only be lost to Iran on human rights. Israel invaded Lebanon with the blessing and help from the U.S., five times in thirty years. Iran has not done anything like that.
In spite of that, the country is considered as a threat...
Chomsky: Because Iran has followed an independent path and not subordinate to any order of international authorities. They behaved in a manner similar to what Chile did in the seventies. When this country was ruled by the socialist Salvador Allende, it was destabilized by the U.S. to produce "stability." It was not a question of any contradiction. It was necessary to overthrow the Allende government - forcible "destabilizing" - to maintain "stability" to restore the authority of the U.S. The same phenomenon is occurring now in the Gulf region. Teheran objects to the authority of the USA.
How do you value the goal of the international community to impose severe sanctions on Tehran?
Chomsky: The international community: a curious expression. Most of the countries in the world belong to the non-aligned bloc and strongly support Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. It has repeated often and openly that it is not considered part of the so called "international community." Obviously only those countries that follow U.S. orders belong to it. It is the U.S. and Israel threatening Iran and this threat must be taken seriously.
For what reasons?
Chomsky: Israel now has hundreds of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Of the latter, the most dangerous comes from Germany. This country provides Dolphin nuclear submarines that are virtually invisible. They can be equipped with nuclear missiles, and Israel is prepared to move these submarines to the Gulf. Thanks to the Egyptian dictatorship, Israeli submarines may pass through the Suez Canal.
I do not know if this was reported in Germany, but about two weeks ago the U.S. Navy said it built a base for nuclear weapons on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. There submarines equipped with nuclear missiles would be stationed, including the so-called "bunker buster." These are projectiles that can penetrate concrete walls several feet thick. They were designed exclusively for an intervention in Iran. Prominent Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld Levi, a man clearly conservative, wrote in 2003, immediately after the invasion of Iraq, that "after the invasion the Iranians went crazy for not having developed any atomic weapon." In practical terms: is there any other way to stop an invasion? Why has the U.S. has not occupied North Korea? Because there is a deterrent. I repeat: nobody wants Iran to have nuclear weapons, but the likelihood that Iran would use nuclear weapons is minimal. This can be proved in the testing of U.S. intelligence. If Iran wanted to equip themselves with a single nuclear warhead, probably the country would be devastated. Such a fate is not to the liking of Islamic clerics in the government: until now they have not shown any suicidal impulse.
What can the European Union do to resolve the tension of this so explosive situation ?