There has been widespread scoffing at the claims by the Obama administration that they had uncovered an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US. Justin Raimondo rounds up some of the views of analysts who find the story, in which the key plotter turns out to be a bumbling, alcoholic, used-car salesman, quite incredible. Much of the skepticism centers around the fact that the alleged mastermind seems to be hardly competent to get through a normal day, let alone plan and execute a complex operation. Juan Cole thinks that he may well be clinically insane.
Julian Borger of The Guardian raises many unanswered questions about the allegations, of which one is key:
The key evidence that the alleged plot was serious was the $100,000 wire transfer. It came from a foreign bank account, but that cannot be an Iranian account because such transfers are impossible under US law. The money must have come from a third country, but which? And how can the US authorities be so sure the foreign accounts were under the control of the Quds force?
In a blog post, the editorial page editor of the LA Times asks a question that is rarely asked in the corporate media:
But wait a minute. Two weeks ago, the United States assassinated one of its enemies in Yemen, on Yemeni soil. If the U.S. believes it has the right to assassinate enemies like Anwar Awlaki anywhere in the world in the name of a “war on terror” that has no geographical limitation, how can it then argue that other nations don’t have a similar right to track down their enemies and kill them wherever they’re found?
It’s true that the assassination of Awlaki was carried out with the cooperation of the government of Yemen. That makes a difference. But would the U.S. have hesitated to kill him if Yemen had not approved? Remember: There was no cooperation from the Pakistani government when Osama bin Laden was killed in May.
It’s also true that there’s a big difference between an Al Qaeda operative who, according to U.S. officials, had been deeply involved in planning terrorist activities, and a duly credited ambassador of a sovereign country. Still, the fact remains that all nations ought to think long and hard before gunning down their enemies in other countries.
As the United States continues down the path of state-sponsored assassination far from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, all sorts of tricky moral questions are likely to arise. But this much is clear: The world is unlikely to accept that the United States has a right to behave as it wishes without accountability all around the globe and that other nations do not.
So if the plot turns out to be yet another case of the US government using money and arms to lure some loser into agreeing to a plot that would be unmasked with great fanfare, what is the point? What is the goal of publicizing this? Stephen Walt is puzzled. Patrick Cockburn suggests a ‘wag the dog’ strategy now that Obama is seeking to rally support for his re-election campaign.
The most likely motive for the Obama administration’s vigorously expressed belief in the plot is that it is preparing the ground for the 2012 presidential election. Mr Obama’s economic and social policies are failing and his only undiluted successes have been the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. By dramatising how he frustrated the fiendish plots of the Iranians, Mr Obama can present himself as the president who kept America safe, or at least protect his national security political flank from criticism by the Republicans.
Many of the mysteries of American foreign policy make perfect sense when related to the overriding need of those in power in Washington to get re-elected.
But all these skeptics need not worry! Obama says that he can prove that it is all true and is pushing ahead with plans to plans for more sanctions against Iran, if not outright war. But, of course, the evidence must be kept secret and we simply have to take his word for it. Now that he has taken upon himself the right to order the murder of anyone he deems to be a terrorist, this seems like a small thing to ask, no?