Bill Clinton Also Hyped the Bogus Iranian Threat

Why? That might be a good question to ask possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who basks in her husband's supposed presidential successes.


Bill Clinton
db king

Tragically, President George H.W. Bush passed up a chance for a rapprochement with Iran because, after the Soviet Union imploded, the national-security apparatus needed a new threat to stave off budget cutters in Congress. Iran became the "manufactured crisis," according to author Gareth Porter's new book by that title.

Doubly tragic, Bush's successor, Bill Clinton, compounded the dangerous folly by hyping the bogus threat. Why? That might be a good question for progressives to ask possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who enjoys basking in her husband's supposed presidential successes.

Porter writes,

That ramping up of pressure on Iran by the Clinton administration was still driven by the same bureaucratic incentives that had appeared at the end of the Cold War, but it shifted into overdrive because it was linked to support of the Israeli government's drive to portray Iran as the great threat to peace in the world.

Clinton's advisers saw the threat of nuclear proliferation as the path to beefing up the national-security apparatus. It was perfect for justifying new weapons systems and a continuing role as world policeman.

Moreover, the military focus on Iran, Porter adds, "dovetailed with the Clinton administration's move to align its Iran policy with that of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin." Before assuming power, Clinton signaled his intention to be "more explicitly pro-Israel than the Bush administration had been." To that end, he selected Martin Indyk as his campaign's Middle East adviser. Indyk had been an adviser to former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir; a researcher at the chief pro-Israel lobbying organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; and cofounder of AIPAC's spinoff think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Today, Indyk is President Obama's chief envoy to the failed U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian talks.)

The Clinton administration implemented the "dual containment" policy against Iraq and Iran. But Porter reports that Robert Pelletreau, the Middle East policymaker in the State Department, acknowledges "that it was 'pretty much accepted in Washington' that the policy had originated in Israel."

Was there a case against Iran to justify the policy? The administration charged Iran with abetting international terrorism, beefing up its armed forces, and seeking nuclear weapons. But was there evidence?

Porter's book is a heavily documented brief showing that Iran never had a policy or took steps to acquire nuclear weapons. It sought a uranium-enrichment capability in order to produce fuel for its civilian nuclear program, but it did not seek weapons. Moreover, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa condemning nuclear weapons as a sin against Islam.

As for Iran's military, the government sought to acquire medium-range missiles, but this was entirely consistent with its defense needs: Saddam Hussein of Iraq was a standing threat (he had launched an eight-year war complete with chemical attacks and missile strikes on Iran's cities, including Tehran), and Israeli leaders often spoke of the need for a preemptive strike against the Islamic Republic, like the one staged in 1981 against Iraq's nuclear-power reactor at Osirak.

And terrorism? "Reflecting both the hostility toward Iran within the national security bureaucracy and the influence of the Israeli line on its Iran policy, the Clinton administration also adopted the same a priori assumption that Iran was a threat to the issue of terrorism," Porter writes. In other words, Clinton didn't need evidence. Porter provides several examples of Iran being falsely blamed for terrorism committed by someone else. The pattern of blame without evidence persists.

Finally, why were Israel's leadership and American supporters so determined to put Iran at the center of U.S. foreign policy, especially when Israel's government had previously, if covertly, cooperated with the Shiite Islamic Republic on the grounds that both countries had a common enemy in Sunni extremism? Porter's detailed and documented chapter on this aspect of the manufactured crisis concludes, "The history of the origins and early development of Israel's Iran nuclear scare and threat to attack Iran over its nuclear and missile programs highlights a pattern in which both the [Yitzhak] Rabin and [Benjamin] Netanyahu governments deliberately exaggerated the threat from Iran, in sharp contradiction with the Israeli intelligence assessment. The ruse served a variety of policy interests, most of which were related to the manipulation of U.S. policy in the region."

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. Ach, what nonsense. Clinton didn’t manufacture a bogus threat. That Iran sponsors terrorism is undeniable. Examples are legion. Of course Iran wants nuclear weapons. Why else would they deny full access to IAEA inspectors? Why else build nuclear facilities underground?

    1. Yeah! If they haven’t done anything wrong then they have nothing to hide!

      1. In the case of Iran’s government this is absolutely 100% true.

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      2. In the case of government that’s a fine standard to have.

        Unless you’d like to let all of the hidden illicit actions of our government stay in the shadows…

    2. Just ignore the dead Americans at Khobar Towers. If you don’t, you’re a NEOCON.

      1. They left US soil. They made their bed. Not my problem as an American taxpayer.

    3. I agree with that analysis, but I would add that Iran’s regime would be stupid to not want nuclear weapons, after seeing what has happened in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc. in recent years.

      1. No, no… they only want them for EVIL! Because EVIL! And because I can’t think in anything but binary.

        1. 100011110001010101110101010100

          1. It’s not my birthday

            1. Sorry, I got you confused with the other AlmightyJB.

      2. Exactly. If I’m an Iranian colonel, you’re damn right I’d want not only nuclear *power* (which makes lots of sense given Iran’s economy and needs), but also nuclear weapons (which, again, makes sense given both recent Iranian history and Ukraine’s current troubles).

        There is that awful tension in that in Iran’s case, the desires of the realists and religious nuts coincides in a way which makes motive difficult to ascertain.

      3. Gangsters and thugs often want weapons for very ‘rational’ purposes. With either the gangs or Iran, it’s foolish to let them have it.

        1. The gang members, and the people of really anywhere, have the right to legitimately obtain those weapons.

  2. Shorter Richman: Teh JOOOS!

    1. Since Sheldon Richman is a Jew that is funny.

    2. Yeah not wanting to bomb someone make them anti-semitic /sarcasm

      1. *makes

  3. I did not have relations with that country *thumbs up*

  4. “Porter’s book is a heavily documented brief showing that Iran never had a policy or took steps to acquire nuclear weapons. It sought a uranium-enrichment capability in order to produce fuel for its civilian nuclear program, but it did not seek weapons. Moreover, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had issued a fatwa condemning nuclear weapons as a sin against Islam.”

    This strikes me as more than a bit dubious. If Iran simply wanted fuel for a reactor, why not simply buy it from someone else? Why refine your own fuel when there are plenty of countries that would sell you the fuel for a lot less money than you would spend building the capacity yourself.

    1. Good point.

      1. Not really.

        1. Why isn’t it a good point.

          It’s not as though any country (France) would refuse to sell fuel to Iran and turn down a few billion dollars.

          Especially when it would then be obvious that it wasn’t being used to blow up the Jooos.

    2. Hell, I seem to remember that we offered to give them a reactor that wouldn’t produce bomb-ready fuel.

      They turned us down. Anyone who believes, at this point, that Iran hasn’t been going after nuclear weapons, hard, for a long time, is either a useful idiot or just dumb.

      1. Leaving aside how effed up Iran’s government is and has been for a second, the lesson taught by the Ukraine is to not only get nukes but to not give them up.

        I bet some of the non-nuclear powers are going to stop not having nukes. Like Japan. It would be crazy not to buy that insurance, with economies crashing and global peace maybe not being such a sure thing.

        1. Good point about Japan, especially with China rattling sabres with them over islands and such. Does anyone think that if China launched a full fledged invasion of Japanese territory that we would (or even should) intervene? If I were them I would have to be thinking seriously about some kind of nuclear deterrent.

          1. Does anyone think that if China launched a full fledged invasion of Japanese territory that we would (or even should) intervene?

            Yes and yes. We have treaties to that effect signed directly after WWII which were reaffirmed during the Cold War and still in effect (the price of Japanese disarmament). Japan is not some shit country; it’s either the second or third largest economy in the world, harbors a shit-ton of our soldiers, and US policy since MacArthur has been to treat an attack on Japan like an attack on Ohio (a paraphrase of an assurance made to Japan’s PM during the Cold War).

            Whether we did so for some piss-ant disputed island is another question, though we could well decide to do so.

            1. Whether we could, should, or would, it’s folly to leave that up to the U.S.’s goodwill. Which is why I’m pretty sure the Japanese do have nukes. And that the U.S. knows that.

              1. Or, maybe better stated, they have the ability to quickly acquire them if they don’t have them on hand right at this moment. From a country south of Canada and north of Mexico.

              2. ” Which is why I’m pretty sure the Japanese do have nukes. And that the U.S. knows that.”

                I wonder where they could have gotten them ?

            2. The Japanese can probably nuke up in less than a year. They’ve got plenty of radioactives, and all the technical know-how they need.

              And, yes, if the Chinese go to war with Japan, I think the US should go to war with China. And as long as the Chinese believe that, there will be no war. Sadly, the current administration is giving them every reason not to believe it.

              1. Japan, at least, is a real ally and a critical trading partner.

          2. If China invaded japan we most definitely, would and should, get involved to help Japan.

            1. If you think the US should get involved then go on your own time and money.

              As an American taxpayer who’s forced to pay with the ever-shrinking US dollar I find your stance offensive.

              Japan’s problem not ours.

    3. This strikes me as more than a bit dubious. If Iran simply wanted fuel for a reactor, why not simply buy it from someone else?

      Like who? Who would be willing to sell it to them? They’ve already been fucked out of uranium they shipped out of the country to be enriched, which was simply not returned. It seems to me that it would be sensible to be self sufficient.

      1. In exchange for not enriching it themselves? Almost anyone. At a minimum the Russians aren’t too shy about doing business with Iran.

        As for self sufficiency, do they produce uranium ore? That seems like a big part of the self sufficiency equation as far as nukes go.

        Or they could, you know, rely on their gigantic oil and gas reserves for energy self sufficiency.

      2. “Who would be willing to sell it to them? ”

        Are you for real ?

        France would do their best to outbid Russia for some Irani billions ?

        If Iran had an open Nuclear program with demonstrated civilian uses Fance and Russia both would trip over each others feet to sell them whatever they wanted to buy.

    4. They tried that at one point. The yanks freaked out about them “finding a loophole” in their attempts to stop ANY nuclear program, civilian or otherwise. The “loophole” was the entire point of the treaty the yanks proposed.

  5. We should’ve done what we did with China–engaged them with trade and with American women. Not actual women, just porn and stuff. Not necessarily all American women, either, but definitely American produced porn.

    1. No that wouldn’t have worked. China had the USSR to push it to America. Iran’s leadership is too factional and crazy and by this time Saddam was defeated. It was Iraq, not Iran, that we should have seduced in the late ’80s. Alas HW poisoned that well and left a mess for his son to clean up.

      1. It’s all water under the bridge now, anyway. I’m not saying it would’ve necessarily worked, but I think trade is generally our best weapon. Doesn’t always work.

        I’m not sure I agree that we have no accountability for propping up the shah, but I also think it’s disingenuous to ignore the realities of the Cold War. It’s not some fiction that the Soviets had designs on Iran–they absolutely did. And the West was very worried about that and made decisions that maybe weren’t so nice in hindsight.

        1. Getting rid of Mossadegh and replacing him with the relatively enlightened Shah was a good move-carried out largely by Britain. Propping him up was not such a great move. Not that it matters much. They’d still hate us and Israel for our freedoms.

          1. I don’t think they hate us just for our freedoms, but with the biggest, loudest nutjobs (read usually government officials) that’s probably the biggest part of it.

          2. That’s silly.

            They don’t hate us because of our freedom.

            They “hate” us because we are a bunch of infidels that their leaders can point to as the root of the rank and files problems in life. Can’t be mad at the dictators when there is a infidel to blame, can they ?

            I have a friend who is an Egyptian national whose family is/was of the ruling faction of Mubarack. He has told me of countless funny stories of being a kid who was a paid protestor.

            He says that they were often paid to jump up and down on the American flag. The rules were that you couldn’t be seen wearing American branded tennis shoes. So he and his buddies would make two dollars each protesting while one of them held the others shoes because if they just set them down they would be stolen.

            He claims they took the money and bought joints, never knowing or caring what they were protesting..

          3. Switzerland and New Zealand have more freedoms than the US and i’m not aware of anyone complaining about them.

      2. I’d rather make money off of Iran than bomb them. Why do you hate capitalism?

  6. Oh look Derpman’s writing another column of LIES about Iran! What LIES will we get to here this week? Will it be the fairy-tale Geneva ‘grand bargain’ that was supposedly dismiseed by Bush but never actually existed? Will it be the myth of a free pre-Shah Iran and a gross exaggeration of the CIA’s role in overthrowing Mossadegh? What BS will Derpman shit out this week! Who cares; TLDR (too much lies didn’t read).

    1. Why so skimpy on all caps LIES? Surely just a few more would have persuaded even the staunchest hold out.

      1. Blue Tulpa’s insipid comments are perfect for a Derpman column. A perfect fit like whip cream and apple lie.

        1. Did the Iranians put all that sand in your vagina? Is it Iranian sand?

      2. I’m convinced. We need to preemptively bomb everything, and our military budget is far too small.

    2. exaggeration of the CIA’s role in overthrowing Mossadegh

      Well, they weren’t totally responsible. The UK was an equal partner.

  7. So no evidence of Iranian sponsored terrorism in the Middle East in the 90’s? They didn’t support Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad with money, training, and weapons?

    “…influence of the Israeli line on its Iran policy…”
    It’s all the damn JOOS fault. Just because Iran refuses to recognize the state of Israel and publicly states their desire to destroy the place, they get all paranoid.

    1. How is this quick charge to anti-Semitism against someone like Richman who appears to be criticizing the state of Israel any different than the quick charges of racism against those who do not seem to be mentioning race at all, and which are usually denounced here? Is anti-Semitism the right’s racism card?

      1. I woukdn’t say just the right.

    2. Richman strikes me more as a dogmatic Rothbardian moron than a racist, FWIW.

      1. I am pretty sure he’s Jewish himself, or at least of Jewish descent. I heard him speak once and he referred to his Orthodox grandparents.

        1. So he’s self-loathing.

          1. You are extremely quick to revert to progressive-style talking points on some subjects. Doesn’t want to pre-emptively nuke Iran = antisemitic. May be Jewish but doesn’t want to pre-emptively nuke Iran = False conciousness, self-hating Jew.

            1. They have often said of neocons that they are just progressives with a hawkish foreign policy philosophy. With good reason, I guess.

        2. So was Rothbard. Like I said, dogmatic Rothbardian moron.

    3. Richma, like other peacenazis, doesn’t do evidence. Non-interventionism is a religion; evidence is for warmongers/neocons.

      1. Peacenazis? Really?

      2. Because wanting Americans to die for a global crusade to spread the ideals of democracy is totally not spiritual. And accepting everything that the weekly standard reports as infallible is totally not religious.

        Just look at how rational and logical the neocon theory of a saddam-al qaeda alliance was.

      3. First off “peacenazis” is one of the worst, hyperbolic, contradictions i’ve ever seen, and second non-interventionism is not a religion, it’s called fiscal responsibility.

    4. Is blaming the Chinese government the same as blaming all Chinese people? If not then blaming Israel is different than blaming Jewish people.

  8. Having a Uinta Dubhe. Very tasty.

  9. Best Frenemies. Each regime benefits from hate and fear of the other. Why spoil it with peace?

  10. Creating a common enemy is the laziest way to rally the mob.

    1. This.

      And, or course, war, and the preparation for war I’ll add, is the health of the state.

  11. Here’s the weird thing: Israel as a country has a lot of things about it that suck from a libertarian perspective. Its economy is basically Norway-level regulation, its treatment of the property rights of Palestinians in administered territory has been staggeringly bad, it still maintains a draft-based army and its government exerts an unhealthy influence on the culture. Proselytizing is effectively illegal, and much of the society is surveilled.

    There is really no need to race headlong into castigating Israel for taking precautions against what is, in fact, a legitimate security concern. Iran has threatened Israel and its people with existential destruction, and worked to obtain weaponry which would make that threat credible. It is not surprising or objectionable that Israel would take such threats at face value or act in a manner consistent with that interpretation.

    1. IF you say you want to wipe out a country, and are working toward the capability to do so, you shouldn’t be complaining when people treat you like you are planning to wipe out that country.

      Short of a pre-emptive nuclear strike, I have a hard time saying anything Israel does to Iran isn’t justified.

      1. That’s about where I am wrt Israel. There are a whole lot of things Israel does to its people and those under its occupation which are unreasonable and objectionable, but its foreign policy antagonists are such assholes that there’s really not much Israel is doing in those situations which is all that unreasonable.

  12. Well, all I know is, if Bill Clinton’s having relations with Iran, someone’s not getting their 72 virgins.

  13. Why those sneaky JOO rats! They’ve managed to manipulate our national security bureacracies into doing exactly what they wanted to do anyway!

  14. Isn’t this the same Gareth Porter who wrote a book saying that Khmer Rouge atrocities were all lies?

  15. Slick Willie?! Bubba?!
    Say it ain’t SO!

    1. Guy bombed Iraq just as he was being impreached. So trustworthy.

  16. Speaking about terrorism is appears that the Hildabeast fought tooth and nail in not branding Boko Haram, you know the group that kidnapped all those girls in Nigeria, as a terrorist group:…..rists.html

    So much for feminism and the “war on women” schtick.

    1. Boko Haram ? didn’t they do this ?

      The Clintons say that Boko Haram only does what they do because of poverty and it has nothing, I SAY NOTHING, to do with being Islamist.

  17. my neighbor’s mother-in-law makes $81 /hr on the laptop . She has been laid off for six months but last month her payment was $18141 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you could look here…..

  18. The leadership in Iran believes the things they say. Death to Israel, America, etc. They cannot be delt with using a libertarian philosophy, because they do not believe it. They are Islam’s true believers and would have all non-muslims convert, submit or die.

    In the end, it will be us or them.

    1. There doesn’t have to be an END.

      They have had the same ideology for centuries.

      In light of a peaceful alternative there is nothing wrong with letting them continue to believe so for a few more centuries.

    2. Switzerland has more freedoms than the US yet they never say “death to Switzerland”. I wonder why.

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