If Iran militarily resists an American/Israeli attack, it may well suffer the same tragic fate as Viet Nam, which lost some 2 million civilians to U.S. deprivations Not only does the U.S. possess some of the most fiendish weapons ever devised, such as nuclear-tipped artillery shells, napalm, white phosphorus bombs, and shrapnel bomblets (one of which can dice human bodies in an area the size of a football field), but it has shown no hesitation to use them on civilian populations in its cruel wars.
The U.S. and Israel have threatened Iran with attack just as though an international court to settle disputes does not exist. The furor is over whether Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. It is no surprise that Iran’s military authorities have replied that they will fight back if attacked but they might keep in mind the U.S. defense budget is 100 times bigger than theirs; that America’s No. 1 cash crop is the sale of armaments, a crop so abundant that it can, and is, flooding the planet with them, even illegally giving nuclear weapons to some of its NATO partners.
What’s more, the Pentagon has demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt that it wages war with a Nazi-like scorched earth policy that results in widespread massacres of civilians. Make no mistake about it, this policy is handed down from the top. The U.S. massacre at My Lai in 1968 was made out to be an aberration by one bloodthirsty officer, when, in fact, as Nick Turse points out in his new book, Kill Anything That Moves(Metropolitan), My Lai was no isolated slaughter. If you can stand to read the book without becoming nauseous, it lists example after example of the scores of egregious massacres by U.S. armed forces. Likely, there were hundreds of them.
At My Lai, Turse writes, members of Charlie Company of the Americal’s 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, slaughtered more than 500 human beings. “Along the way,” Turse notes, “they also raped women and young girls, mutilated the dead, systematically burned homes, and fouled the area’s drinking water.” All not much different from what Japan’s Imperial army did in China, or what Hitler’s Wehrmacht inflicted on the Russians in World War II. While America lost 58,000 killed in Vietnam, Vietnamese military deaths were an estimated 1.7 million and an astounding two million civilians were butchered. Official South Vietnamese hospital records indicate that “approximately one-third of those wounded were women and about one-quarter were children under 13 years of age,” Turse writes.
While Pentagon files detailing these atrocities have a mysterious way of disappearing, enough evidence exists to show “that atrocities were committed by members of every infantry, cavalry, and airborne division, and every separate brigade that deployed without the rest of its division—that is, every major army unit in Vietnam,” Turse writes. What’s more, “For every mass killing by ground troops that left piles of civilian corpses in a forest clearing or a drainage ditch, there were exponentially more victims killed by the everyday exercise of the American way of war from the air.”
As a practical matter, neither Iran nor any other nation, Russia and China included, can stand up to conventional American firepower. And U.S. officials have warned aloud they have no qualms about using nuclear weapons against Iran (as they used radioactive artillery shells in Iraq.) Can anyone imagine that Iran, which U.S. intelligence reports has not a single nuclear bomb or shell, can oppose the U.S. which has a ready arsenal of 10,000 bombs and Israel more than 200? Indeed, any country which attempts to resist U.S. aggression with force plays right into the hands of the Pentagon. War is what America wants to justify its imperialistic policies—which is why it spends 53 cents of every Federal tax dollar collected on the military and why Washington spends more for war than all 50 states of the union spend for all civilian purposes combined. America today is the quintessential warfare state. Not exactly what George Washington had in mind.
A far wiser strategy for Iran to adopt at this time would be a declaration of non-violence along the lines advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. As Iran has not once attacked a neighboring nation in some 300 years, it has, in fact, attempted to live by this code, resorting to force only to defend itself when invaded by Iraq. But USA is not Iraq. It is infinitely stronger. So here are a few suggestions for the Iranians:
First, announce to the world that Iran not only would never start a war against Israel, but, if attacked by Israel or its American ally, Iran would not reply in kind.
Second, since threats by Israel and the US against the Iranian Republic violate the UN Charter, take legal action in the World Court to force those countries to stop.
Third, teach non-violence to every Iranian citizen.
Fourth, invite American and Israeli diplomats to the conference table.
An announcement from Iran that it will not take up arms would give it a diplomatic initiative and draw the praise of the world. If the U.S. and/or Israel attacks despite these pacific initiatives, Iran could call upon the world to boycott the products of the two countries. And because of its peaceful initiatives Iran would have much support from other nations, not only those in the Muslim world. The alternative is to risk Iran becoming another Vietnam.
If Iran is attacked and fights back, it may well win some initial military victories. But it cannot win an overall shooting war and the ability of the U.S. and its allies to destroy Iran’s infrastructure and massacre its population wholesale is a given. What is true of Iran is also true of other nations. Their officials need to look at military threats by the imperial-minded powers from Gandhi’s non-violent perspective.
Sherwood Ross is a former reporter for major U.S. dailies and wrote weekly columns for British and U.S. wire services. He currently directs the Anti-War News Service of Coral Gables, Florida. To comment or contribute, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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