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BOOK REVIEW: "Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare"

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BOOK REVIEW: Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare by Gareth Porter (Just World Books) 2014

The standard argument against Iran that is parroted daily from mainstream news outlets is that it’s a power-mad, theocratic regime, bent on obtaining nuclear weapons in order to wipe out Israel and the United States, and afterward proceeding to conquer the world.

This is the kind of argument that makes good fodder for the interventionist think tanks that pepper DC. This also is a false narrative, according to Gareth Porter, concocted by the United States and Israel to strong-arm Iran into giving up completely any nuclear capabilities whatsoever.

Meticulously researched, Manufactured Crisis gives the reader a history lesson on the roots of the current tensions between Iran and the United States.

The book also delves into the transformation of the International Atomic Energy Agency from an impartial nuclear facilities inspector to an arm of the US/Israeli propaganda arsenal against Iran. Throughout the book, Porter demonstrates that facts and foreign intelligence are twisted to conform to the desired narrative, and any information that contradicts that narrative is quickly suppressed by the intelligence community. The picture painted gives a sense of déjà vu, reminding the reader of the run-up to the Iraq War.

Tensions between the United States have been ongoing since 1953, when a democratically-elected leader was overthrown in a US-backed coup, and a more malleable US puppet was installed. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi reigned until the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which brought to power The Ayatollah Khomeini and ended the close relationship between the US and Iran. All nuclear work began under the Shah was discontinued until the Islamic government realized that nuclear power was necessary.

Porter’s book details how, during the 1980’s, US actions to prevent Iran from receiving cooperation from Germany or France on a peaceful nuclear program led to Iran developing nuclear research in secret. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran became a convenient foreign threat to fill the vacuum left by Russia in order to continue justification for the massive US military/intelligence bureaucracy that had ballooned during the Cold War.

The crisis was ramped up in 2002, when Alireza Jafarzadeh, US representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, held a press conference detailing a secret Iranian nuclear program at two facilities at Natanz and Arak. This news created a sensation, and the climate of fear was heightened due to the close proximity in time to the September 11th, 2001 trade tower attacks. What was lost on the media and the public at that time was that the source of the information that Jafarzadeh had presented had been delivered by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service. The intelligence was from satellite imagery that Mossad had shared with the Bush administration. Apparently, Mossad had found that a very effective way to make intelligence credible was to ‘launder’ it through a domestic Iranian front group, which in this case happened to be MEK, or Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.

The press conference gave the Bush administration the perfect cover to delegitimize the Iranian regime. The Neoconservatives, who swarmed the Bush administration, dreamed a dream to redraw the Middle Eastern map by a series of regime-changing operations in the countries surrounding Iran. Iran was viewed as the biggest prize of all among the regimes selected to be toppled. Far from viewing the secret Iranian nuclear program as a crisis, the administration viewed this as an unparalleled opportunity to gut Iran once and for all. Tellingly, the administration rejected any attempt by Iran for diplomatic resolution to the problem. Those welcoming conflict with Iran had just one major player to worry about, the International Atomic Energy Association.

When it became obvious that Iran was willing to cooperate with the IAEA in order to resolve the problems diplomatically, the Bush administration assigned John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, to move the issue away from the IAEA and to the UN Security Council. This alarmed the UK, France, and Germany. They saw this as a prelude to an attack similar to that carried out against Iraq.

After several years had shown that an attack on Iran was not likely, Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state during the second Bush term, was able to more closely align Europe with US policy toward Iran. The US attitude of no negotiation remained, however.

The rest of the book details how, at various times, “evidence” was revealed that was proof of a secret, nefarious Iranian nuclear program. In the chapter, ‘The Mystery of the Laptop Documents,’ Porter details how sketchy information from murky sources was taken seriously enough to be considered to base policy decisions on. The same organization, MEK, continued to come up when an attempt was made to uncover the sources. On page 196, Porter states: “It is a well-known principle in the intelligence community that when information or documentation appears precisely at the right moment to answer key strategic questions, it should be regarded with caution, because it is likely to have been planted deliberately to influence policy.” The supposed evidence smuggled out of Iran on a laptop in 2004 came at a time too convenient to be mere coincidence. Closer study of the intelligence revealed weak, dated information.

In the chapter, “Intelligence Failure”, Porter tells the story of a CIA covert operative of Middle Eastern descent, whose intelligence reports on WMDs were suppressed because they conflicted with the desired narrative on Iran. The operative filed a lawsuit against then CIA director Porter Gross. Part of the lawsuit involved intelligence on the Iranian nuclear program that the CIA specifically did not want passed on to the intelligence community or policy makers. The operative, “Doe”, who also has sources within the intelligence community, was informed that policy makers had been deliberately shielded from his reports, reports that contained information that would seem to have dramatically affected the credibility of Iran’s accusers.

Everything seems to be expendable in service to the narrative. That is developing into an axiom to hold in the face of every government endeavor, foreign and domestic. Facts, evidence, truth, lives, billions of dollars, debt. On and on. Everything can be twisted to serve the narrative if it brings the desired results.

Nuclear power is an effective bargaining chip, as well as a deterrent to foreign aggression. This is, most likely, the main reason that the US and Israel seeks to keep Iran from obtaining it. To successfully end Iranian work on nuclear power, a trumped up emergency had to be concocted in order to coerce Iran through sanctions and threats of war. Porter documents each step taken by the US and Israel to create this crisis.

Manufactured Crisis deserves to be read by every citizen of the US, especially those reflexively supportive of continued war in the Middle East. We shouldn’t accept the lies and propaganda so easily; we shouldn’t allow the drones to fly or the soldiers to deploy so carelessly. Should war and sanctions and threats always be a first response? Ten years of that policy give us a crystal clear answer.

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Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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