By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
The US government pretends to live under the rule of law, to respect human rights, and to provide freedom and democracy to citizens. Washington’s pretense and the stark reality are diametrically opposed.
US government officials routinely criticize other governments for being undemocratic and for violating human rights. Yet, no other country except Israel sends bombs, missiles, and drones into sovereign countries to murder civilian populations. The torture prisons of Abu Gahraib, Guantanamo, and CIA secret rendition sites are the contributions of the Bush/Obama regimes to human rights.
Washington violates the human rights of its own citizens.
Washington has suspended the civil liberties guaranteed in the US Constitution and declared its intention to detain US citizens indefinitely without due process of law. President Obama has announced that he, at his discretion, can murder US citizens whom he regards as a threat to the US.
Congress did not respond to these extraordinary announcements with impeachment proceedings. There was no uproar from the federal courts, law schools, or bar associations. Glenn Greenwald reports that the Department of Homeland Security harasses journalists who refuse to be presstitutes, and we have seen videos of the brutal police oppression of peaceful OWS protestors. Chris Floyd has described on CounterPunch the torture-perverts who rule the US.
Now Washington is forcing as much of the world as it can to overthrow international treaties and international law. Washington has issued a ukase that its word alone is international law. Any country, except those who receive Washington’s dispensation, that engages in trade with Iran or purchases Iran’s oil will be sanctioned by the US. These countries will be cut off from US markets, and their banking systems will not be able to use banks that process international payments. In other words, Washington’s “sanctions against Iran” apply not to Iran but to countries that defy Washington and meet their energy needs with Iranian oil.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, so far Washington has granted special privileges to Japan and 10 European Union countries to continue purchasing Iranian oil. Requiring countries to shut down their economies in order to comply with Washington’s vendetta against Iran, a vendetta that has been ongoing ever since the Iranians overthrew the Washington-installed puppet, the Shah of Iran, more than three decades ago, was more than Washington could get away with. Washington has permitted Japan to keep importing between 78-85 per cent of its normal oil imports from Iran.
Washington’s dispensations, however, are arbitrary.
Dispensations have not been granted to China, India, Turkey, and South Korea. India and China are the largest importers of Iranian oil, and Turkey and South Korea are among the top ten importers. Before looking at possible unintended consequences of Washington’s vendetta against Iran, what is Washington’s case against Iran?
Frankly, Washington has no case. It is the hoax of “weapons of mass destruction” all over again. Iran, unlike Israel, signed the non-proliferation treaty. All countries that sign the treaty have the right to nuclear energy. Washington claims that Iran is violating the treaty by developing a nuclear weapon. There is no evidence whatsoever for Washington’s assertion. Washington’s own 16 intelligence agencies are unanimous that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program since 2003. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s weapons inspectors are in Iran and have reported consistently that there is no diversion of nuclear material from the energy program to a weapons program.
On the rare occasion when Washington is reminded of the facts, Washington makes a different case. Washington asserts that Iran’s rights under the non-proliferation treaty notwithstanding, Iran cannot have a nuclear energy program, because Iran would then have learned enough to be able at some future time to make a bomb. The world’s apex bully has unilaterally decided that the possibility that Iran might one day decide to make a nuke is too great a risk to take. It is better, Washington says, to drive up the oil price, disrupt the world economy, violate international law, and risk a major war than to have to worry that a future Iranian government will make a nuclear weapon. This is the Jeremy Bentham tyrannical approach to law that was repudiated by the Anglo-American legal system.
It is difficult to characterize Washington’s position as one of good judgment. Moreover, Washington has never explained the huge risk Washington sees in the possibility of an Iranian nuke. Why is this risk so much greater than the risk associated with Soviet nukes or with the nukes of the US, Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea today? Iran is a relatively small country. It does not have Washington’s world ambitions. Unlike Washington, Iran is not at war with a half dozen countries. Why is Washington destroying America’s reputation as a country that respects law and risking a major war and economic dislocation over some possible future development, the probability of which is unknown?
There is no good answer to this question. Lacking evidence for a case against Iran, Washington and Israel have substituted demonization. The lie has been established as truth that the current president of Iran intends to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
This lie has succeeded as propaganda even though numerous language experts have proven that the intention attributed to the Iranian president by American-Israeli propaganda is a gross mistranslation of what the president of Iran said. Once again, for Washington and its presstitutes, facts do not count. The agenda is all that counts, and any lie will be used to advance the agenda.
Washington’s sanctions could end up biting Washington harder than they bite Iran. What will Washington do if India, China, Turkey and South Korea do not succumb to Washington’s threats?
According to recent news reports, India and China are not inclined to inconvenience themselves and to harm their economic development in order to support Washington’s vendetta against Iran. Having watched China’s rapid rise and having observed North Korea’s immunity to American attack, South Korea might be wondering how much longer it intends to remain Washington’s puppet state. Turkey, where the civilian and somewhat Islamist government has managed to become independent of the US- controlled Turkish military, appears to be slowly coming to the realization that Washington and NATO have Turkey in a “service role” in which Turkey is Washington’s agent against its own kind.
The Turkish government appears to be reassessing the benefits of being Washington’s pawn.
What Turkey and South Korea face is basically a decision whether they will be independent countries or be subsumed within Washington’s empire. The success of the American-Israeli assault on Iran’s independence depends on India and China.
If India and China give the bird to Washington, what can Washington do? Absolutely nothing. What if Washington, drowning in its gigantic hubris, announced sanctions against India and China?
Wal-Mart’s shelves would be empty, and America’s largest retailer would be hammering on the White House door.
Apple Computer and innumerable powerful US corporations, which have offshored their production for the American market to China, would see their profits evaporate. Together with their Wall Street allies, these powerful corporations would assault America with more force than the Red Army. The Chinese trade surplus would cease to flow into US Treasury debt. The offshored-to-India back office operations of banks, credit card companies, and customer service departments of utilities throughout the US would cease to function.
In America, chaos would reign. Such are the rewards to the Empire of globalism.
Obama and the neoconservative and Israeli warmongers who urge him on to more wars do not understand that the US is no longer an independent country. America is owned by offshoring corporations and the foreign countries in which the corporations have located their production for US markets. Sanctions on China and India (and South Korea) mean sanctions on US corporations. Sanctions on Turkey mean sanctions on a NATO ally.
Do China, India, South Korea and Turkey realize that they hold the winning cards? Do they understand that they can give the bird to the American Empire and bring it down in collapse, or are they brainwashed like Europe and the rest of the world that the powerful Americans cannot be resisted?
Will China and India exercise their power over the US, or will the two countries fudge the issue and adopt a pose that saves face for Washington while they continue to purchase Iranian oil?
The answer to this question is: how much will Washington pay China and India in secret concessions, such as eviction of the US from the South China Sea, for their pretense that China and India acknowledge Washington’s dictatorial powers over the rest of the world?
Without concession to China and India, Washington is likely to be ignored while it watches its power evaporate. A country that cannot produce industrial and manufactured goods, but can only print debt instruments and money is not a powerful country. It is a washed-up two-bit punk that can continue to strut around until the proverbial boy says: “the Emperor has no clothes”.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached through his website