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Iran: Why am I Still Worried?

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Mr. Bush claims that rumors of plans to attack Iran are 'baseless gossip.' So why am I still worried?

Five years ago we established Artists United to Win Without War because of concern about the veracity of Mr. Bush's claims about Iraq. We were alarmed at the hawkish tirades from Washington portending a clear intention to launch an unprovoked attack against a nation that had done us no harm. And we were appalled at the bellicose ranting of the mainstream media that acted as Bush's megaphone, drowning out the few lonely voices trying to add a touch of reason to the mix. So we released a call for restraint, signed by celebrities, military officers, diplomats and foreign service professionals, asking him to honor our country's historic opposition to a "first strike" and to support the UN inspection teams checking to see if Saddam was actually hiding WMD.

The media, of course, ignored the professionals on our list and attacked the upstart celebrities in an attempt to divert the discussion away from whether we were being told the truth to whether actors have a right to an opinion.

I'm worried today because the "thousands of lives" we warned might be lost in Iraq became hundreds of thousands. The millions of dollars we worried might be wasted became hundreds of billions. The international respect we feared might be damaged has instead been shredded. And the elected representatives we felt had shirked their duty have not yet shouldered it.

In our naiveté, we did not know that our Constitution and Bill of Rights would be sundered and America would become a nation of torturers.

So I'm worried because the same media that turned Saddam into Hitler despite the fact that he had no meaningful army and no weapons of mass destruction, now confers the title on the hapless tool Ahmadinejad, who has no power over Iran's military and little political standing in his own country, except that rejuvenated by the blundering president of Columbia University.

I'm worried because although General John Abizaid, former chief of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), doesn't believe "the Iranians intend to attack us," saying, "Iran is not a suicide nation," he is now retired.

It's reassuring that Admiral William Fallon, the current head of CENTCOM, refused to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf because it would signal a preparation for war. He's said to have vowed there would be no war against Iran on his watch and implied he would quit first.

But I worry that Mr. Bush doesn't care what military leaders say when Mr. Cheney sets his mind to doing something. General Shinseki, General Zinni and General Batiste opposed his policies in Iraq. They're now gone, as is much of Iraq.

It helps when Mohammed ElBaradei, Nobel-Prize-winning Director General of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, says "I don't see Iran, today, to be a clear and present danger. And our conclusion here is supported by every intelligence assessment I've seen that even if Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons [which it denies], it's still three to eight years away from that. We need to continue to do robust verification. But we do not need to hype the issue. What we need right now is to encourage the moderates in Iran."

But Mr. Bush bugged UN offices before the vote on Iraq, pressured our allies, and had Colin Powell sell his soul for a green light to "shock and awe." Powell is now sorry, but gone. Mr. Bush remains and he's never made a mistake.

So I'm worried. Despite the disaster in Iraq, the neocons remain in full-throated war cry.
I worry when I learn that Defense Secretary Gates' Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coalition Affairs can publicly say "I hate all Iranians" and keep her job.

I worry when Mr. Bush's choice for Ambassador to the UN, cashiered against his boss's wishes, runs around calling for the bombing of Iran and, where have we heard this before, "regime change."

I worry that Mr. Bush could give 45 minutes of his day to Norman Podhoretz, the Grand Poobah of neoconservative ideology -- which gave us the war in Iraq -- to lobby for an attack on Iran.
I worry that despite Bush's dismissal, it's not just "baseless gossip."

I worry because a humiliating lack of public support seems to mean nothing to Mr. Bush and those propelling him.

I worry because I see the arrogance of a cult intent on fulfilling its mission before they lose what they seem to believe is a God-given opportunity.

And I worry because too many Americans, once again, seem content to sit on their hands, unwilling to believe this man could do something so stupid.

Mike Farrell, author of Just Call Me Mike - A Journey to Actor and Activist was co-founder of Artists United to Win Without War.