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The Republican foreign policy debate has provoked a contest to demonstrate who is toughest on Iran.

Newt thinks there are nukes under mosques. Michele Bachmann, the covergirl of the primitives, claimed that “President Ahmadinejad has said that if he has a nuclear weapon, he will use it to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, he will use it against the United States of America.” Even “moderate” Mitt Romney threatened war.

Iran has repeatedly denied it has a nuclear weapon; Ahmadinejad never said he would use a nuclear weapon against America; nor, as the Washington Post reported recently, has he apparently ever said he would “wipe Israel off the map.”

That bogus claim started six years ago when Nazila Fathi, the New York Times correspondent in Tehran, reprinted an ISNA press agency story headlined: “Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says.”

Specialists such as Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and Arash Norouzi of the Mossadegh Project pointed out that the original statement in Persian actually said that Israel would collapse: “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the arena of time.”

The Neocons have targeted Iran since the early ‘90s as a threat to Israel, making WMD claims like those used to justify invading Iraq, including the Saddam/Ahmadinejad is Hitler and skeptics-are-appeasers line. The trump card on Iraq was Dick Cheney’s Big Lie: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” (Aug. 26, 2002)

They apparently learned nothing from the Iraq debacle; they are now advocating an unprovoked attack on a country five times larger than Iraq, which would create generations of jihadis.

All they have this time is a controversial IAEA report about Iran’s nuclear program that is ambiguous but more alarmist than previously. Mohamed ElBaradei, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for running the IAEA for 12 years, had publicly labeled the “threat” posed by Iran as hype. His replacement is a Japanese official who owes his new position to the U.S. and is apparently prepared to accommodate American hardliners. Leaked cables from the U.S. mission to the IAEA support this theory.

The new report (among other things) expressed concern about a “large cylindrical object” housed inside the Parchin complex and “designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kilograms of high explosives,” allegedly enough to test a nuclear trigger system.

But former lead IAEA inspector Robert Kelley has denounced those claims as “highly misleading.” “You have to be crazy to do hydrodynamic explosives in a container,” he said. “They’re done outdoors on firing tables.”

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist, has reported in the New Yorker on U.S. support for dissident Iranian Kurd and Baluchi groups, as well the MEK, which have aided special operations teams the U.S. has regularly sent inside Iran: “There’s not much you can do in Iran right now without us finding out something about it.” Those teams, he said last month, found no evidence of weaponization nor any nuclear bomb-making facilities.

In addition, the IAEA has TV cameras monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities around the clock and makes regular inspection visits, yet the IAEA report doesn’t accuse Iran of cheating on its commitments. Moreover, under the so-called Additional Protocol, the IAEA is authorized to make surprise inspections of any facilities in Iran without advance notice.

The hardliners continue nonetheless to advocate attacking Iran, even though Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other experts agree it would only delay any weapons program for a year or two and provoke a major war.

Their selective memories recall the 1979 takeover of our embassy in Tehran, but have apparently forgotten the U.S.-led overthrow of Iran’s elected leader in the ‘50s; U.S. support for Saddam Hussein’s 10-year war on Iran that killed millions; and the 1988 American shootdown of Iran Air 655 that killed 290 civilians.

They over look's Iran's cooperation after 9/11 when it supplied the U.S. info on AQ including passport photos; they pretend they've never heard that Iran offered in May 2003 to to address our concerns on nuclear weapons and terrorism, and support a two-state solution for Palestine, provided we would end sanctions, drop "axis of evil" rhetoric and reestablish diplomatic relations.  We rejected it out of hand.

The LA Times reported at least two dozen unexplained blasts in Iran in the last two years, which killed/wounded some nuclear scientists and a central figure in Iran’s missile program. Seymour Hersh speculated in the New Yorker that the U.S. military teams in Iran were committing acts of sabotage.

More recently, the U.S. has admitted that an American drone was shot down over Iran. That, along with the Stuxnet computer worm that destroyed Iran’s nuclear-related centrifuges, suggest we are waging a covert war against Iran.

What the militarists carefully avoid explaining — because they can’t — is how Iran could possibly threaten the U.S. when for years our nuclear arsenal successfully deterred a Soviet attack.

Since the Clinton years, the U.S. has attacked seven Muslim countries (Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan, and supported Israel's attacks on Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.

Iran would make number ten. No one should be surprised that some Muslims think we have declared war on Islam.

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