by William Blum
One of the most common threads running through the Wikileaks papers is Washington’s manic obsession with Iran. In country after country the United States exerts unceasing pressure on the government to tighten the noose around Iran’s neck, to make the American sanctions as extensive and as painful as can be, to inflate the alleged Iranian nuclear threat, to discourage normal contact as if Iran were a leper.
“Fear of ‘different world’ if Iran gets nuclear weapons. Embassy cables reveal how US relentlessly cajoles and bullies governments not to give succour to Tehran,” read a Guardian of London headline on November 28. And we’re told that Arab governments support the United States in this endeavor, that fear of Iran is widespread. John Kerry, the Democratic head of the Senate foreign relations committee, jumped on this bandwagon. “Things that I have heard from the mouths of King Abdullah [of Saudi Arabia] and Hosni Mubarak [Egyptian president] and others are now quite public,” he said. He went on to say there was a “consensus on Iran”. (Guardian, December 2) If all this is to have real meaning, the implication must be that the Arab people feel this way, and not just their dictator leaders. So let us look at some numbers.
The annual “Arab Public Opinion Poll”, was conducted this past summer by Zogby International and the University of Maryland, in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. A sample of the results:
- “If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, which of the following is the likely outcome for the Middle East region?” More positive 57%, Would not matter 20, More negative 21.
- Amongst those who believe that Iran seeks nuclear weapons, 70% believe that Iran has the right to its nuclear program.
- “In a world where there is only one superpower, which of the following countries would you prefer to be that superpower?”
France 35%, China 16, Germany 13, Britain 9, Russia 8, United States 7, Pakistan 6.
- “Name TWO countries that you think pose the biggest threat to you.” Israel 88%, US 77, Algeria 10, Iran 10, UK 8, China 3, Syria 1.
- “Which world leader (outside your own country) do you admire most?” (partial list) Recep Erdogan [Turkey] 20%, Hugo Chavez 13, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 12, Hassan Nasrallah [Hezbollah/Lebanon] 9, Osama bin Laden 6, Saddam Hussein 2. (Barack Obama not mentioned) 1
Also in Wikileaks: ” … during a meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (an) enraged Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff Mohammed Ali Jafari allegedly got into a heated argument with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and slapped him in the face because the generally conservative president had, surprisingly, advocated freedom of the press.”
How will the White House and Israeli propaganda machines and the US media deal with this? Their favorite whipping boy, President Ahmadinejad — oppressive dictator, stager of fraudulent elections, “Holocaust denier”, nuclear threat to all that is decent and holy — a champion of press freedom? And how powerful can he be? It’s not mentioned whether the man who slapped him suffered any punishment.
What will we learn next from Wikileaks? That Hugo Chávez doesn’t really eat babies?