Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Are we headed for war with Iran?

It certainly looks like it. Our esteemed “war president”, George Bush, has been ratcheting up the rhetoric quite a bit lately. Glenn Greenwald, in, has a very disturbing article on this.

George Bush, speaking before yet another military audience, yesterday delivered what might actually be the most disturbing speech of his presidency, in which he issued more overt war threats than ever before towards Iran:

"The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shia extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

"Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late (Applause.)"

Leave aside all of the dubious premises -- the fact that the U.S. is supposed to consider Iran "the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" because of its support for groups that are hostile to Israel; that Iran is arming its longstanding Taliban enemies; that Iran is some sort of threat to Iraq's future even though it is an ally of Iraq's government; and that Iran's detention of American-Iranians inside its own country is anything other than retaliation for our own equally pointless detention of Iranians inside of Iraq, to say nothing of a whole slew of other provacative acts we have recently undertaken towards Iran. Leave all of that aside for the moment.

Viewed through the prism of presidential jargon, Bush's vow -- "We will confront this danger before it is too late" -- is synonymous with a pledge to attack Iran unless our array of demands are met. He is unmistakably proclaiming that unless Iran gives up its nuclear program and fundamentally changes its posture in the Middle East, "we will confront this danger." What possible scenario could avert this outcome?

By now it is unmistakably clear that it is not only -- or even principally -- Iran's nuclear program that is fueling these tensions. As Scott Ritter and others have long pointed out, the fear-mongering warnings about an Iranian "nuclear holocaust" (obviously redolent of Condoleezza Rice's Iraqi smoking gun "mushroom cloud") is but the pretext for achieving the true goal -- regime change in Tehran. Bush all but said so yesterday:

"We seek an Iran whose government is accountable to its people -- instead of to leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons."

In other words, we "seek" a new government in Iran. Are there really people left who believe, with confidence, that Bush is going to leave office without commencing or provoking a military confrontation with Iran?

Bush also added: "I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities." To underscore the fact that this is not mere rhetoric, the U.S. military in Iraq, following Bush's speech, arrested and detained eight Iranian energy experts meeting in Baghdad with the Iraqi government -- handcuffing, blindfolding, and interrogating them -- only to then release them when the Iraqi government protested. The path we are on -- with 160,000 of our troops in Iran's neighbor, escalating war-threatening rhetoric, and increasingly provocative acts -- is obviously the path to war.

I am just incredulous at how anyone would be buying this at this time. These are exactly the same words, exactly, as we all heard about Iraq in 2002, prior to us bombing them and then marching in our army. And I think it should be obvious to everyone except the most partisan Bush/war supporter that there was never a strong case for going to war. War should be the very last option that a country uses, not the first. Yet, here we are again. At the time, I was amazed at how, all of a sudden, Iraq became the Great Enemy, when it should have been obvious to everyone that they were not involved in the atrocities of 9/11. Yet, 85% of the country seemed to go for it, hook, line and sinker. And here we go again. Iran is now the new boogieman. Many people are predicting that Bush will launch some kind of military action against Iran before he leaves office.

If anyone has lost count, that would be three simultaneous wars. Three. And we are in danger of losing the other two, we don’t even know why we are fighting in Iraq anymore, we are bankrupting the country to try to pay for these wars and we are in mortal danger of breaking our military. And yet, George Bush and his neocon buddies want nothing more than to start yet another war.

I have been hoping and rather expecting that someone would inject some sanity into this. I keep expecting a grownup to show up and say, “NO! This is not acceptable. Stop acting like a spoiled five year old!” But I am not seeing this happen. I am now beginning to think that we really are going to attack Iran within the next 6 to 9 months.

For one thing, how utterly insane would it be to start a war just when Bush is scheduled to leave office? Dump the whole thing on his successor’s lap? “Here, Hillary! Hope you enjoy your present!” But more to the point, I am thinking this might be a way to get our military into some very dire straits. If we were to drop a bunch of bombs, or Heaven forbid, a nuke, on Iran in an attempt to gut their nuclear capability and end up killing scores of civilians in the process, do you think that the Iranian military will stand for that? No, they won’t. And the United States Army and Marines would make a very inviting target, sitting right next door already under extreme pressure from whatever is going on in Iraq right now. The Iranians don’t have to try to figure out how to attack the U.S. mainland when a large percentage of our military forces are within striking distance in the country next door.

You want to see total chaos and perhaps the start of a conflagration that has the potential to engulf the entire Middle East? That’s what would happen if we attack Iran. And one more thought that I just had on the subject. This might explain the perceived need for “Clergy Response Teams” to help pacify the populace that I just talked about.

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