The question is not whether Iran will be attacked, but by whom and
whether the bombing will commence within the next several months or
shortly after the November election.
The U.S. for many months has made bellicose noises about thwarting
Iran's nuclear ambitions with force -- complete with a virtual repeat of
its pre-war propaganda campaign prior to "shock&awe" against Iraq.
Israel is reported to have just carried out a
military exercise practicing for an attack on Iran. Iran is letting
it be known how destructive and unconventional
retaliation would be if it is bombed. What is going on?
Though one can decry it, at least one can understand why Israel, just a
short missile flight from Iran, might want to take "pre-emptive" action
against that country were it to possess nuclear-weapons capabilities.
But what's driving the neocons in the White House to push so insistently
for an attack on Iran?
It seems clear that Cheney and Bush want Iran's nascent civilian nuclear
program taken out now before it could become operational in a military
sense five or ten years down the road. If this is true, why would the
Administration have wanted to attack Iraq?
For decades, you may remember, Iraq was the buffer between an ambitious,
strengthening Iran and the West's strategic interests in the Middle
East, and for that reason the U.S. under Reagan helped Saddam in his war
against his country's Iranian neighbor. But with Iraq sinking into
military/economic irrelevance after what Cheney and Bush have done to
ruin that country, Iran not surprisingly is filling the political and
military vacuum in that Islamic region of the Greater Middle East.
The neocons argue that if Iran is not stopped now, America will lose all
hopes of future influence and control in the oil-rich region. Iran would
become one of the most powerful, and likely anti-U.S., players in the
Greater Middle East, with all the military, economic and oil-based
implications that such hegemonic power brings with it. In short, say the
neocons, it's vital to stop Iran in its tracks now while the stopping is
still possible. Once Iran has operational nuclear-tipped missiles --
which could be a mere ten years down the line, or less -- the entire
equation would change.
THE HAWKS PREPARE
The neocons believe that if Iran is attacked by the U.S. and/or Israel,
it could retaliate with missiles and asymmetrical warfare, but, given
the firepower of U.S. and Israeli forces, its long-range military
strength would be severely diminished for at least a decade or two, with
little ability to successfully exercise its political authority in the
region. Syria, another possible competitor for top-dog influence in the
region, might try to fill the bill or, more likely, might well back off,
seeing what its enemies did to both Iraq and Iran.
In short, from the neo-con hawk perspective, now is the perfect time to
launch a "pre-emptive" air-attack on Iran. This is the case even though
CheneyBush cannot produce any conclusive evidence that Iran is working
on military uses of nuclear energy; that may be in their long-range plan
but, by and large, the U.S. is basing its antagonism on speculation and
future fears. In short, there does not appear to be any kind of imminent
Iranian threat to the U.S. or to other countries in the region. (Absent
an imminent threat, an attack on a sovereign nation is regarded as
illegal under international law, perhaps even a war crime.)
The Republicans also note that along with the quagmire in Iraq, a war
with Iran would ensure that the new American President would find
himself hogtied in Iran and to a diplomatic/military/economic policy in
the Greater Middle East from which it would be difficult to disentangle.
Also, both presidential candidates are firm supporters of Israel and
have indicated they'd be open to taking military action against Iran to
stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons, the difference being that McCain
is more amenable to going forthrightly into a shootin' match, while
Obama is willing to try diplomacy first without taking a possible attack
off the table.
In short, given the complexities of what's at stake in the region, and
how Bush&Co. is trying to lead the new Administration into highly
dangerous waters, the new President might fail badly, making it easier
for a Republican victory in the 2010 Congressional elections and the
2112 presidential contest.
A GAME OF HIGH-STAKES "CHICKEN"?
So, there's that possible take on what is going on with regard to Iran.
But what if it's all a high-stakes, all-in game of "chicken" being
played out? Each side blustering, threatening an attack, but done with
great restraint -- a lot of chest-beating, saber-rattling, insulting,
etc., but no battles, just maneuvering to break the will of the other
guy? Iran would want America to back off and let it go its own way in
its own neighborhood, and the U.S. would want Iran to drop its plans for
weapons-grade uranium enrichment.
Look at the situation this way: The American military, and National
Guard/Reserves, are not in any mood to accept another major war, as U.S.
forces around the world already are stretched way too thin and are,
because of the way the troops are abused, having problems meeting their
recruitment quotas. Likewise, the Pentagon chiefs are not especially
crazy about initiating another war, especially against Iran, given the
lack of firm evidence to support such an attack. Defense Secretary Gates
keeps pumping for diplomacy with Iran and plays down any saber-rattling;
Admiral William Fallon -- before he was forced to resign -- was head of
Central Command and was vehemently and publicly trying to block
Cheney's near-compulsion for attacking Iran.
In short, an attack on Iran would be almost totally a White House
project with Cheney's hands all over it and is sure to engender even
more retirements and then truth-telling from the resentful, angry
military brass and perhaps an instantaneous upsurge of demands for
impeachment of Cheney and Bush in the House.
ILLUSION OF POSITIVE "LEGACY"
And yet, even given that negative situation, I think Cheney and Bush are
still salivating at the prospects of attacking Iran as a last spastic
use of the power they've amassed for themselves. In addition, perhaps
Cheney and Bush just might go for it in a final desperate attempt to
establish their "legacy": They believe that eventually all Americans,
and others, will realize that during their tenure they courageously and
correctly began the process of bringing democracy and free-market
capitalism to the "backward" Islamic countries in the Greater Middle
East, even if at the point of a gun.
But what if the U.S. rulers miscalculate once again, a la Iraq -- some
leading neocons blithely assume that the young, anti-mullah population
of Iran will rise up following an attack and overthrow their religious
rulers -- and the U.S. gets sucked into a no-win quagmire all over the
Middle East? What then? Maybe CheneyBush don't give a rat's petunia; in
the long run, as the solipsistic Bush has said about his "legacy," he'll
To gain their war, CheneyBush (along with Israel) are threatening and
trying to provoke Iran into making a bad blunder in response that could
be interpreted as a "hostile" act, requiring a retaliatory strike.
Seymour Hersh, a former high-placed intelligence officer said that a
secret meeting took place in Cheney's office where "the subject was how
to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington."
At best, in Bush&Co. calculations, an air attack using "surgical"
bombing runs and laser-guided missile attacks would quickly take out
Iran's military/nuclear facilities, perhaps in a day or two, with little
civilian "collateral" damage.
At worst, regardless of whether it's Israel or the U.S. initiating the
attack, the result could lead to uncontrollable chaos and destruction --
and an oil-supply system badly wrecked, with all that implies for the
economies of the U.S. and Europe -- and the clash of cultures that so
many extremists, on both sides, seem almost to desire. (The U.N.'s chief
nuclear official, Mohammed El Baradei, said an attack on Iran would turn
the region in a "ball of
fire.") And the new President would be stuck with the
HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO WAR?
So how close are we to war against Iran? Former CIA official
reports that upon emerging from a 90-minute White House meeting with
President George W. Bush on June 4, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
said the two leaders were of one mind:
"'We reached agreement on the need to take care
of the Iranian threat. I left with a lot less question marks [than]
I had entered with regarding the means, the timetable restrictions,
and American resoluteness to deal with the problem. George Bush
understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to
vanquish it, and intends to act on that matter before the end of his
term in the White House."
McGovern also quotes a member of Olmert's delegation
saying that the two countries had agreed to cooperate in case of an
attack by Iran, and that "the meetings focused on 'operational matters'
pertaining to the Iranian threat." My best guess right now
is that CheneyBush, as always divorced from the real world, will go for
an attack probably later this summer, or, if not then, between the
November election and the inauguration of a new President in January.
Whether CheneyBush will do so with the U.S. playing the central role is
unknown at this time. My guess is that the U.S. will be helpful to
Israel in getting them to do the deed. (Remember that Israel bombed
Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.) Already, a huge
number of America's military brass, including the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, have recently had mostly
secret consultations with their Israeli counterparts.
Neo-con Bill Kristol even suggests that if Bush thinks Obama is poised to
win the presidency, he'll launch the attack either just prior to or
right after the November election. In other words, better vote for
McCain if you want to stop a widening war in the Greater Middle East.
Political extortion of the first order.
BUILDING OF A "PERFECT STORM"
I would be happy to be proven wrong in all my speculations and to learn
that what's happening in the Persian Gulf area is merely (!) a dangerous
game of "chicken." If the latter, then someone with rational sense will
veer away from the confrontation before it's too late and the region is
plunged into full and total economic and military conflagration, with
the spillover effect of a potential worldwide economic Depression and
wars of choice throughout the region. In short, mixed in with an
already-proceeding environmental collapse brought on by
human-accelerated global warming, it's clear, as Hemingway might say,
that there's a cataclysmic shitstorm coming. A perfect storm with
untold, horrific consequences.
Finally, with Iran in the crosshairs, you would think that both Congress
and the mainstream media would feel obliged to start paying some major
investigative attention to the likelihood of such an attack, so that we
won't wind up once again falling into war without a proper and lengthy
debate about the wisdom of such a move. But once again, as was the case
with the runup to the war against Iraq, Congress, this time controlled
by the Democrats, remains inert and the corporate media remain mostly
silent or act as cheerleaders for CheneyBush policy.
Prior to the "shock&awe" bombing of Iraq, those opposed to the coming
attack put ten million dissenters into the streets around the globe. In
contrast, today's so-called "antiwar movement" in the U.S. and elsewhere
seems dormant in the face of the coming conflagration, with a lot of
energy now siphoned off to the presidential campaign.
DO-NOTHING CONGRESS AND "MOVEMENT"
In sum, everything points to the likelihood of the coming attack with
precious little countervailing power coming from the corporate media,
anti-war forces, and the supposed "opposition" party, the Democrats, or
the party's standard-bearer in the November election, Barack Obama. The
U.S. economy already is teetering on the brink of a long-term recession,
or worse, with ordinary citizens forced to work multiple jobs just to
keep their families economically intact, with little extra time for
According to former U.N. weapons inspector
"[Not only is Congress failing] to put any
obstacles in the way of this policy but in fact Congress is actively
facilitating this policy by refusing to enact legislation that would
require the president to get the consent of Congress before going
into Iran. The fact that Congress has opted out from tying the
president's hands reinforces, at least in the Bush administration's
mind, that Congress is legitimizing the potential of action.
"So when you put all of this together you start to see that there is
not only a real risk of war but that those who would like to do it
see that there aren't any obstacles being put in the way of their
accomplishing this, which makes the likelihood of military action
even greater. Everyday that goes by without Congressional action is
another day that reinforces that there will be a military strike
Is the situation reversible before Israel and/or
CheneyBush initiate the bombing runs and Tomahawk-missile attacks on
Iran? Reversal may be possible if the opposition mobilizes intensely in
the next few months, but, at the moment, that does not appear likely.
America's dogs of war are about to be unleashed in the Greater Middle
East yet again, with everyone else, the world, seemingly immobilized and
ready to be treated as mere "collateral damage." It's the numbness of
too much trauma.
Copyright 2008, by Bernard Weiner