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Military chief says he's eager to fight Israel.

The commander of Iran's Army says his forces "actively welcome a first strike by Israel against Iran in order to precipitate that country's annihilation."

This is a new rhetorical flourish. For years, the Iranian military has said it would crush any American attack. That seemed to produce fear among many Iranians that Iranian rhetoric would provoke the Americans into attacking. So, a few years ago, the official rhetoric started emphasizing that American threats against Iran were just hollow and the Americans were weaklings who wouldn't dare attack.

In reality, there have been no US threats to attack Iran. Dating back to the Clinton Administration more than two decades ago, the US rhetoric has only referred to "all options" being on the table if Iran should develop a nuclear weapon. Iranian rhetoric has ignored the "if" and pretended the United States has threatened to attack Iran because it has an Islamic government.

With regard to Israel, Ayatollah Khomeini first spoke the phrase: "Israel must be wiped off the map." But Iran has been very careful over the decades--as was Khomeini--not to say who would do the wiping off.

Last week, the Army commander, Major General Ataollah Salehi, updated the Khomeini rhetoric, telling reporters Iran has not perceived any threat from Israel, but "we will definitely confront any threat and would wipe Israel off the map [if it attacked]. We actively welcome a first strike and provocation by the Zionist regime in order to initiate an operation that brings the regime to its historic annihilation long before the Leader's predicted date of 25 years."

That was the closest any Iranian official has come to volunteering Iran to do the wiping off. But Salehi was still careful not to say that Iran would initiate any attack on Israel, only that it would annihilate Israel if Israel attacked first. The regime continues to be careful not to provide any provocation to justify an Israeli attack.

Salehi said, "Our wiping the Zionist regime off the map would also benefit American taxpayers, whose taxes are expended providing security for Israel."

But Salehi assured the public Iran sees no preparations for any attack by either Israel or the United States. "We only perceive hollow threats without action," he said, continuing to use the official line intended to calm the fears of Iranians.


He added, however, that "global imperialism" is very busy providing support to terrorists in order "to plunge the region into chaos." That is part of the official line that the Islamic State was created by the United States and is funded, trained and armed by the American military.

Salehi said, "They know that there is a regional power--the Islamic Republic of Iran--that forced six world powers to the negotiating table, and which only seeks to promote the international centrality of Islam and its revolution above all other considerations."

Meanwhile, the chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces and highest-ranking uniformed officer in Iran said American threats are nothing more than hot air and that Republicans are reactionaries who want to go back to the time of "crazy George W. Bush."

Major General Hassan Firuzabadi said threats by certain countries, the US included, are nothing but empty talk. "Some shriek out of fear, but the fact remains that nothing threatens Iran in the current situation," he said as part of the effort to calm fearful Iranians.

Iran's defense doctrine, he said, is centered on one core principle: defending the world's Muslims and freedom-seeking nations.

Firuzabadi said the Americans say they can launch an attack--but they cannot handle the reactions such an attack would produce. "A war will earn them nothing, because what they say is simply full of hot air," Firuzabadi said.

Actually, President Obama has spent seven years saying US military power should only be used as a last resort and cannot be expected to cope with internal social frictions in the Middle East, such as the Sunni-Shia frictions in Iraq.
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Title Annotation:Keeping the eye on rhetoric
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Oct 2, 2015
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