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Stop Us Before We Kill Again!

By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers

April 18, 2006

The essence of Bush&Co. strategy, from January 2001 to today, can be boiled down to this: We'll continue doing whatever we want to do until someone stops us.

So, if you're wondering whether the U.S. will back off from attacking Iran, or whether corporations will no longer be given the ability to dictate Administration environmental policy, or whether domestic spying on U.S. citizens will cease, or whether Scalia might recuse himself on cases he's already pre-judged -- if you still harbor any or all of those illusions, forget about it.

Since Bush&Co. openly carry out the most reprehensible crimes, with nobody being able to prevent them from moving on to even worse atrocities, it's almost as if their unconscious is screaming out for a political intervention, reminiscent of that old plea from a tormented serial-killer: "Stop Me Before I Kill Again!"

But consciously, as they sense their time in power may be coming to an inglorious end and as they read their quickly-sinking poll numbers, they can't help themselves from issuing their traditional, in-your-face dare: "Stop me if you can, losers!"

This big-A "Attitude" started long before Inauguration Day, when Karl Rove & Dick Cheney were devising their strategy and theory of governance. It goes something like this: We need only one vote more than the other guys -- on the Supreme Court, in the Senate, in the popular vote totals in key states. Once we get our victory by whatever means necessary, we are then the "legitimate" rulers. We can claim The People Have Spoken and that we have a "mandate" for action and can do whatever we want. If you don't like it, tough. If you're foolhardy enough, you can try again at the next election and see where that gets you, suckers -- our side counts the votes!


The Bushistas look around and, though not happy with how their policies have fallen out of favor, they can be somewhat sanguine. After all, their fundamentalist base of about 33% is still hanging in there with them. The mainstream media -- most newspapers, Fox News, radio talk-shows, cable pundits -- are still more or less in their pockets. The bothersome Democrats remain in the minority, marginalized in Congress and far away from the levers of power. The votes are still tabulated by a few Republican companies, many from e-voting machines that are easily manipulatable by company technicians, even from remote distances. Another major catastrophe -- a new war, a huge natural disaster, a major terrorist attack -- can re-focus the headlines away from Bush&Co.'s current and ever-growing scandals.

On the other hand, a determined prosecutor Fitzgerald is still out there, deeply knowledgeable about what really went down in the manipulation of pre-Iraq War intelligence. The military establishment is rebelling against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld war policies, openly in the case of those generals who resigned to speak their minds, and covertly in the case of those actively serving who are leaking their opposition to Jack Murtha, Sy Hersh and others. More and more conservative and moderate Republicans are backing away from too-close association with BushCheney, and there have been a number of embarrassing defeats for the Administration in Congress. Revelations of one Bush&Co. scandal after another keep coming (Katrina, Abramoff, domestic spying, WMD lies, torture, Plamegate, Unitary Executive dictatorship, and on and on).

Given all that -- and one suspects that is just the tip of the criminality iceberg -- one would expect that Bush and Cheney would be approaching the impeachment dock shortly. But while a majority of the public is willing to consider or support making Bush and Cheney accountable for their lies and corruption and incompetency, the weak-kneed politicians simply refuse to even consider a censure resolution, let alone to pass one authorizing impeachment hearings. In short, the Democrats have chosen not to put up a real fight for either the future well-being of the Constitution or their own political survival, preferring instead to watch from the sidelines as the Republicans implode in corruption, scandal and disarray.

And so, with no effective opposition in their way, Bush&Co. simply keep moving forward. Next stop: Iran.


Though there is some speculation that all this talk about Bush attacking Iran is so much saber-rattling to get the Iranians to back away from pursuing their nuclear ambitions, I don't buy it.

Bush&Co. want this war for a variety of reasons: to further their deeply-held goal (and Bush's sense of "legacy") of altering the geopolitical makeup of the greater Middle East; to control the vast oil reserves in the region; to provide yet another demonstration model to Muslim rulers in the area not to mess with U.S. desires and demands; and, of course, to wrap Bush in the warrior flag yet again as a way of deflecting attention away from his domestic and foreign scandals by counting on the public's fascination with footage of laser-guided "precision" bombs striking the "enemy's" buildings and radar batteries.

("Precision" is in quotation marks because by now we know to anticipate thousands of dead and wounded civilians when the missiles and bombs go off-target. And, let us not forget, we haven't even brought up the subject of the radiation effects that might ensue if, as is being planned, Bush uses "tactical" atomic bombs, the so-called mini-nuke "bunker busters," to get at Iran's deep-underground labs. If such WMD are employed by the U.S., hundreds of thousands could be killed or badly damaged by radiation, and the area contaminated into the far future.)

The propaganda barrage being laid down by Administration spokesmen these days is so utterly identical to the fog of lies that preceded the attack on Iraq that it seems all Rumsfeld and Rice have to do is simply re-use the original press releases and change the last letter of the target country, "n" instead of "q." We even get ye olde "mushroom cloud" image hauled out again, supposedly warning us about Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons; this time, that mushroom cloud could well be one effected by the U.S. bombers and missiles.

Even the fantastical expectations are as out of whack as what we were told would happen in Iraq. There, we were promised, the American forces, in a "cakewalk," would be greeted as "liberators," with kisses and flowers. In Iran, we're told, much the same will occur, and the oppressed Iranians, chafing at the harsh rule of the fundamentalist mullahs running the country, will rise up and topple their repressive government. Seymour Hersh writes: "One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that 'a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.' He added: 'I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, 'What are they smoking?'")


These predictions of a popular Iranian uprising, which arise out of neo-con ignorance and desire, simply ignore the realities on the ground. Imagine, for example, how U.S. citizens would feel -- even those opposed to the Bush Administration -- if a bullying foreign power bombed the hell out of our country's scientific and industrial laboratories, killing a lot of our citizens in the process, and badly hampering our economic progress for decades to come. If the attack included nuclear bombs, multiply those angry reactions (and the resulting radiation deaths) by a thousand per cent. How would the citizens react? Of course: The American people would unite behind their leaders, beloved or despised, in resisting the attackers. Much the same reactions should be anticipated from Iran's citizens.

In Iran's case, given that it's the major Muslim military and political power in the region, that resistance might well lead to retaliation where it hurts. Israel, America's one surefire ally in the region, probably would be attacked, thus widening the already red-hot conflict; U.S. warships in the area would be targeted by Iranian missiles; oil sales to the West would be greatly reduced or cut off entirely, and perhaps other oil fields in the region might be bombed; the Straits of Hormuz, which control entry into the Persian Gulf, might be blocked to sea traffic; Iranian assault troops might enter Iraq to support the insurgency, which would have redoubled its attacks on U.S. forces; Iran-sponsored terrorists would hit American targets both in the region and perhaps even inside the United States. Plus, the Law of Unintended Consequences would lead to even more ruinous events not even contemplated here as other Islamic nations become involved.

Surely, Iran knows how much the U.S. military is stressed these days in Iraq and Afghanistan, how thin the troop strength is around the globe, how so many U.S. troops are going AWOL or are not re-upping, how National Guard troops and commanders are reacting negatively to their overuse outside America's boundaries, how many in the Pentagon brass are opposed to Bush policy, etc. The aim of the Iranians, in this scenario, would be to get the U.S. bogged down in yet another land war in the region.

In short, it's not just the ineptly-managed quagmire in Iraq that is behind much of the opposition from high-ranking officers and retired brass in America's military command. Clearly, they are speaking out now because of the prospect of another disaster about to unfold in Iran, which will get young American troops slaughtered and tied-down in yet another military adventure.

(Let us be clear. The military brass currently in revolt against Rumsfeld and his superiors -- the unnamed Cheney and Bush -- are not liberal activists energized by the issues of whether these wars are moral or legal or even well-advised; they are arguing, for the most part, on how best to properly manage such conflicts, how to more effectively conduct such imperial adventures while keeping their troops safe. But, whatever their motives, progressives should welcome any dissent that weakens the hold of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triad on the levers of uncriticized power.)


Do I believe that Iran's rulers are nice, progressive guys who deserve our active support? Of course not. Ahmadinejad mirrors Bush as a close-minded, backward-looking, religiously-influenced fundamentalist leader, and Iran's senior mullahs likewise. Do I believe Iran wants uranium-enrichment purely to build nuclear power plants? Of course not. They desire to be the big power in the neighborhood, plus they've seen how defenseless Iraq and Afghanistan were treated, and how this differs from how the U.S. behaves toward North Korea, Pakistan and India, all recent members of the nuclear-weapons club.

If for no reason other than their own protection against the two atomic powers in the region (the U.S. and Israel), the Iranian government's goal is to possess some nuclear-tipped missiles. Their atomic program is taking its first babysteps these days. America's own intelligence analysts believe it would take anywhere from five to ten years to get to the point of Iran having a nuclear arsenal. And, if both sides possess nuclear weapons, the world may return to the days of MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, as a brake on rash action.

The Bush doctrine of "preventive" or "pre-emptive" war is to hit potential enemies before they can even get on the track of building up their weaponry. Hit 'em while they're weak and vulnerable, even if they have no plan of attacking anybody (such was the case with Iraq) -- that's the operating principle. The Islamic states are weak and vulnerable right now; hit 'em. Iraq is weak and vulnerable; take it. Iran doesn't yet have a fully developed nuclear program; blast it.


Nobody is sure when the U.S. attack on Iran will come. Given the resistance inside the American military to launching such an attack, the Bush propaganda machine may feel it needs a few more months to soften the public's attitude to the "inevitability" of the move on Iran. (And to obtain the international fig-leaf of a vaguely-worded U.N. Security Council authorization vote for war.) Or they could judge that the situation requires a "the-sooner-the-better" approach, before too much opposition develops in the American body politic and around the globe. Since this will not be a ground invasion, the air assault could happen at any moment. I'm guessing we have maybe a month in which to head this madness off at the pass.

Before the attack on Iraq in 2003, more than ten million people worldwide marched in opposition to that imminent invasion. Three years later, there seems very little organized resistance to the impending war on Iran. Only now is the possibility of such a U.S. attack coming onto most folks' radar screens. The peace movement seems puny in its ability to organize masses of demonstrators these days, whereas the march of immigrants across the country brought out millions.

We'll have a better sense of the strength of the peace movement on April 29, when the big anti-war march (the war being opposed is the one in Iraq) will happen in New York City, this one organized by United for Justice & Peace. Will those in the anti-war movement see the larger picture and alter their approach and rhetoric and actions accordingly? We shall see.

Copyright 2006, by Bernard Weiner

Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international , has taught at various universities, worked as a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently is co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). For comment:
>> crisispapers@comcast.net  << .

Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances