The Bush administration, the Obama administration and European countries have pressured Iran for some time and call for furthers sanctions due to Irans uranium enrichment program. They consider Iran as a major threat to stability. On the other hand India, Pakistan and Israel are not pressured although they already possess nuclear weapons and haven't signed the Non Proliferation Treaty like Iran did. Could you comment on the foreign policy strategy of the United States and Europe concerning Iran?
Noam Chomsky: Linguist, Intellctual and Political Activist
David Goessmann: The Bush administration, the Obama administration and European countries have pressured Iran for some time and call for furthers sanctions due to Irans uranium enrichment program. They consider Iran as a major threat to stability. On the other hand India, Pakistan and Israel are not pressured although they already possess nuclear weapons and haven't signed the Non Proliferation Treaty like Iran did. Could you comment on the foreign policy strategy of the United States and Europe concerning Iran?
Noam Chomsky: Iran is a threat because it doesn't follow orders. As a military threat it's almost non existent. Unlike the countries you mentioned - Israel, India, and Pakistan - Iran has not been engaged in any aggression for a couple of hundred years. Actually the only aggressive act that Iran has undertaken was in the 1970ies under the Shah with the backing of the United States when they took over two Arab islands.
Nobody wants Iran to have nuclear weapons or for that matter anybody. And it's a rotten regime undoubtedly. But not by the standards of the countries that the U.S. supports. So by the standards of Saudi Arabia or Egypt you can hardly criticize Iran's human rights record. It's not doing what Israel is doing. Israel for example with U.S. support has invaded Lebanon five times in the last thirty years without any credible pretext. Iran hasn't done anything like that.
They are a threat because they could be a deterrent. I mean they are an independent country, big country, rich country. If they follow an independent path it barrows what's called stability, term you used. But stability has a technical meaning in international affairs. It means obedience to orders. In fact that usage is so extreme that the editor of “Foreign Affairs”, a major liberal intellectual political analyst actual said at one point that the United States had to destabilize Chile under Allende in order to maintain “stability”. And it wasn't a contradiction. You had to overthrow the Allende regime, that's destabilizing, in order to maintain “stability”, that means to follow U.S. orders. And it's the same in the Gulf region. Iran doesn't follow orders. So it's threatening stability.
It's interesting that the U.S. and Europe – you mentioned correctly, they are the ones who are calling for sanctions, worrying about the dangers and so on – they sometimes call themselves the international community or the world. But that's a very odd definition of the world. I mean most of the world is the non-aligned countries, most of the countries, most of the population. And they vigorously and strenuously support Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Repeatedly they said so but they are not part of the world. The American population up to a couple of years ago also strongly supported that right but they are also not part of the world either. The world is the people who follow Washington's orders. That's the way the term is used.
The United States and Israel are seriously threatening Iran. Iran is under serious threats. That's no justification for the regime. As I said it's a rotten regime but that's independent. First of all two countries on Iran's borders are occupied by the United States. That's a pretty serious threat. Right now Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. In fact the delivery systems the most extreme ones were provided by Germany. Germany provided nuclear submarines to Israel which are basically undetectable and they are nuclear weapons capable, can carry missiles with nuclear weapons and Israel is in fact deploying them in the Gulf. Together with the Egyptian dictatorship they were able to go through the Suez canal and the U.S. of course supports that. And that's a serious threat to Iran.
I don't know if that gets reported in Germany but just a few weeks ago the United States, the Navy announced that they are building up their nuclear weapons base on Diego Garcia. Diego Garcia is an island in the Indian ocean that's actually part of Africa. But the U.S. and Great Britain insist that it's not part of Africa because Africa has a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone. And the U.S. and Britain want to keep this island as a nuclear weapons base. And it's used as one of the main bases for bombing in the Middle East and Central Asia. So it's regularly used.
Just a couple of weeks ago the U.S. announced that it's sending first of all submarine tender that's to take care of nuclear submarines. Nuclear submarines means that they also been capable of carrying nuclear weapons to Diego Garcia. And just a couple of days ago they announced that the Obama administration is dispatching what is called “bunker busters”, huge bombs, the biggest bombs in the arsenal, thirteen ton bombs that can supposedly penetrated thousand of feet reinforced concrete. They are only for use against Iran. And it's a severe threat, right now, but it doesn't get reported in the United States. But it's all public information. These are pretty severe threats.
In fact the one leading Israeli historian Martin Levi van Creveld, he is quite conservative, published an article right after the invasion of Iraq. He said, after this invasion if Iran isn't developing nuclear weapons they are crazy. How else do you deterrent a U.S. invasion? As a member of the axis of evil, the U.S. invaded Iraq not North Korea. They have a deterrent. Anybody can see that. The chances of – again, nobody wants Iran to have nuclear weapons – but the chances of they actually using them if they had any are minuscule. You can read that from U.S. intelligence analysts. I mean if they even so much as armed a missile the country would probably be vaporised. And however awful the ruling clerics may be they haven't shown any suicidal impulse. They don't want to commit suicide and have the whole country destroyed including the treasures of Persian culture in Tehran, Isfahan, which would be the immediate effect of them doing anything. So U.S. intelligence specialists estimate the threat of Iran doing anything with weapons maybe one percent. To small to talk about it.
But Europe doesn't like it and United States doesn't like it because it might deter their actions. Germany is as I say directly participating in severe threats against Iran. Well, for us the West says: “We are perfect. Everything we do is fine.” But for the potential victims that's not the way it looks.
Incidentally a couple of days after Obama got the Nobel Prize the Pentagon announced that they accelerating the development of these massive ordnance penetrators, the bunker busters. The program began with Bush but it kind of languished. As soon as Obama came in he accelerated the program. The development of it is just a threat against Iran. And right after the Nobel Prize they announced that it's not going to be deployed I think three years in advance of what was expected. Now they are sending them to Diego Garcia from which the population was brutally expelled by the British. The U.S. wanted a naval base. You know, these things are happening.
The use of Diego Garcia also undermines the Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone. I mean if you are serious about reducing the threat of nuclear weapons then one of the main thing policy priorities ought to be is to set up Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones. Well, there is one in Africa. But the U.S. is blocking it because they want to keep nuclear weapons on Diego Garcia. There is a South-Pacific Zone but the U.S. is blocking it. First the French blocked it because they wanted to carry out nuclear tests. But then they finished their tests. So that's over. Now the U.S. is blocking it because it wants the Pacific islands to house nuclear submarines and nuclear weapons. So that's out.
Actually the most important of them all isn't discussed. I don't know if it's discussed here. That's a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East. If you pressed for that that would mitigate perhaps end whatever threat there may be of Iranian nuclear weapons and Israeli nuclear weapons which are a serious threat and also U.S. forces deployed there. It would mean that they couldn't have nuclear weapons. Well, that would be pretty significant.
And though it's rarely discussed the U.S. and Britain are deeply committed to that. They wouldn't say but they are. The reason is very straight forward. When the U.S. and Britain invaded Iraq they tried to construct some legal pretext. And the pretext that they used was a Security Council Resolution 687 in 1991 that called on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. And the U.S. and Britain said: Well they hadn't done it. Turned out to be false. But they said they hadn't done it so we have a right to invade. Well, you take a look at the resolution somehow, take a look at article 14. It commits the signers to move to establish a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East. So U.S. and Britain above all others are committed to this. And the American population overwhelmingly is in favor of it. Iran is in favor of it but we don't know. But if there were just moves towards that it could significantly release the tensions. But the goal is not to release the tensions. The goal is to threaten a disobedient regime.
And Iran is not the only case. Let's take Cuba. Why does the U.S. keep maintaining extensive economic warfare against Cuba? Well, we know the answer. It's in the declassified record which has been released. You go back to the Kennedy years. They charged Cuba with what they call “successful defiance” of U.S. policies going back to the Monroe doctrine. No Russians, just not following orders. The American population for ever since polls were taken for three decades is strongly in favor of ending the embargo. The world is overwhelmingly in favor. You take a look at the votes at the U.N., the U.S., Israel and some Pacific islands object. But you have to punish Cuba. It's not a threat to anyone. But you have to punish them for successful defiance. And that makes sense.
It's one of the few principles of international affairs that really works, is what you might call the mafia doctrine. The godfather does not tolerate disobedience. It's too dangerous. I mean if some small storekeeper somewhere doesn't pay his protection money, maybe you don't want the money but if he can get away with it somebody else would try. And pretty soon the system of domination and control will erode. So you have to punish them. Not just take the money but go in send your goons to beat him to a pulp. That's the mafia doctrine. That's one of the major principles of world affairs.
I mean if you look through the history of the Cold War the regular invasions and interventions were mostly on this basis including Vietnam, incidentally the big ones, Guatemala, Iran, others. In the case of Iran for example overthrowing the parliamentary regime 1953 and installing the Shah. You just take a look at the public commentary at the time. Say the New York Times. The New York Times editors were very much in favor of this. They said, this will be an object lesson to other countries that go bestir with fanatic nationalism and try to take control over their own resources. No, you can't tolerate that. So okay, we overthrow a government and impose a tyrant. And we are not supposed to care about that. That's kind of ancient history. Iranians care. And so it continues. This is case after case. This is one of the major operative principles of world affairs.