• 8 October 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Heffner
  • 1 Comments
  • Iran War related legislation, Israel, Nuclear file, US-Iran War

Hyperbole reached new heights this week when Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations on Monday that a blockade will be necessary in two to six months to give “Iran a deadline to change its behavior.”  Steinitz, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a former protégé of the Prime Minister, has always been known as hawkish; given his role as a government minister and his ties to Israel’s leaders, his latest remarks should not be ignored.  Never mind the absurd justification Steinitz offered, in which he likened such a blockade to that of  Cuba in 1962—Cuba, an island nation that, unlike Iran, actually possessed nuclear weapons in its territory at the time of the embargo.  And never mind that Steinitz demanded that Iran “become open for inspection,” when in fact the IAEA constantly has inspectors in Iran looking at the country’s nuclear facilities.  Instead, what is most concerning is that this call mirrors a Congressional resolution introduced in 2008, which suggests that a blockade may actually have support among US lawmakers.

Calls for a blockade are not new.  In the past it was seen as an option for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program by commentators who believed sanctions were not enough or would inevitably fail.  They claim that a blockade is simply the “next logical step.”  However, what these pundits fail to mention is that a blockade is an act of war.  Such an act against Iran by the United States or any state in the international community could likely lead to open violent conflict between US and Iranian forces as Iranian warships try to force their way through the blockading force.  Furthermore, such a blockade would seek to destroy Iran economically, punishing Iranians who have nothing to do with the nuclear program and destroying America’s image with the Iranian people.  Finally, a blockade would convince Iranian leaders they have nothing to gain from negotiating a deal with the West and provide an incentive to push for an actual nuclear device, ending all hopes for a compromise that would avoid a calamity in the region.

Sadly, some congressional leaders seem to ignore the obvious drawbacks of such an action as they stumble over themselves trying to assert their hawkish credentials.  In 2008, Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman introduced a resolution in Congress demanding that George Bush initiate an effort to inspect or quarantine “all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran.”  Although the resolution was ultimately blocked, more recent legislation by Republican Representative Louis Gohmert provides explicit endorsement for Israel to use “all means necessary” against Iran, effectively green lighting a blockade or military strike.  Finally, both Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman recently signaled that military action against Iran was, from their perspective, becoming more likely.  This call for a “blockade” that is just short of military strikes but would likely be the opening salvo in a US-Iran war will, in the short term, probably be picked up by some of these same leaders as the next necessary step against Iran.

The disastrous results of a war with Iran have been described ad nauseum, but the disturbing part about the Finance Minister’s comments is that he does not acknowledge that a blockade would have the same effect as a military strike.  But this isn’t a pattern that should surprise any of us.  First diplomacy was ruled dead after an artificial twelve week timeline; now calls are beginning for the 12-week-old sanctions regime to be ruled a failure; next, it’s the naval blockade that would lead to war.  About the only thing that Minister Steinitz’s Cuba comparison is good for is this: one can only hope that United States officials take a page from President Kennedy’s playbook and talk with Iran before it’s too late.

Posted By Patrick Heffner

    One Response to “Israeli Official’s Call for Imminent Iran Blockade is Really a Call for War”

  1. Pirouz says:

    The majority of the Iranian people inside Iran stand behind their nation’s nuclear power program, that’s a fact.

    I’m skeptical there will be a blockade, at least as far as the next 24 months. Too risky.

Leave a ReplyLeave a Reply to Pirouz




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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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