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Once More, Into the Breach.......

yet another war front

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 19, 2005.

Tomorrow, the dulcet tones of President Bush’s Second Inaugural Address will hover over the nation before coagulating into forgettable history, and we formally enter the home stretch of the most activist President in recent memory. And we’d better cinch in the belts. Because there is reason to believe we’ll be invading Iran soon in the open, as we are at present undercover. Iran, we know, is part of President Bush’s Axis of Evil.

In the current New Yorker magazine, Seymour Hersh chats about how the European nations, so critical of American foreign policy, only really became interested in Iran’s nuclear program, which Bush saw correctly as a nuclear weapons program, when Iran demonstrated the willingness to build or buy a missile that could reach far beyond their alleged enemy in Israel and hit Berlin and Paris from the Persian heartland. Since then, Europe has been deeply involved with diplomacy to get Iran to back off this nuclear journey. It can do nothing else.

Iran isn’t all that helpful to Europe, because it knows Europe has no will for fighting and, in any case, not much force to back up its diplomacy. Besides, Iran really wants a bomb. The portion of the American Left that’s naïve still thinks that diplomacy can operate in a vacuum without a painful alternative available to it. The American Left that’s cynical says such diplomacy isn’t diplomacy at all, that it’s simple military oppression and we shouldn't do that sort of thing. This is why the Republicans are in power at present, and how the Left reacts to the coming Iranian war will underscore its current deserved weakness. We can safely predict it will be a reaction both inarticulate and ineffectual, finding wiggle room in stated respect for other cultures and religion as it backs off from its responsibility.

Setting aside the morality of letting any nation with a fundamentalist religious government get a nuclear bomb for the moment, let’s deal with actualities.

The problem is, Iran has hidden nuclear sites deep underground, and we have no clear knowledge of their progress towards making a bomb, a goal which Iran does not deny. There’s reason to believe that they’ve reached the limit of their knowledge and cannot manufacture a critical gas, but they have had ties with Pakistani scientists and North Korea and China in the past and it’s quite possible that they’re only months away from having a bomb making ability.

The Bushies have been busy trying to maintain the current military junta in Islamabad, under Musharraf, because we have, currently, commando teams operating in Iran from Pakistan as we do out of the Central Asian republics. The mission of these commandos is to locate and eventually destroy the twenty five percent of the Iranian nuclear infrastructure that cannot be destroyed by air attack.

Concurrently, and alarmingly, these mostly CIA based para-military units are now being transferred to the military so that the laws of the United States aren’t broken by the restraints placed on the CIA in the 1970’s. We’re at war, and the Pentagon has wider leverage, and Donald Rumsfeld will have great authority to institute commando attacks from conception to completion without Senate oversight.

The basis for this is the neo-con belief that, when the ruling Iranian mullahs are seen as unable to protect the nation from the west, there are supposed powerful secularists in Iran who will rise up and depose them, and that this is a good result to wish for. But is it? Would a secular Iran resent the invasion and destruction of its nuclear facilities any less than a fundamentalist Iran? There is serious debate about this but not, unfortunately, in the Pentagon or the United States in general. According to Hersh, the pieces on the game board are already moving, and Iran is already under attack based on those iffy assumptions.

But isn’t this exactly like the neo-con theory of Iraq? That the people would welcome the invaders with doves and flowers? I fear the neo-cons are basing their thinking on conversations with westernized Muslims who aren’t at all like those people in waiting for power at home and who have manipulated the neo-cons to their own tribal advantages from the beginning. Remember Ahmad Chalabi?

And Iran isn’t like Iraq. It isn’t Arab and, among other things, it borders Russia. Russia doesn’t want a nuclear Iran either, but whether it wants a US military presence at work on yet another border is an open question. And how the US military could handle another war is also a rather scary issue. Iraq isn’t over by a long shot, and in fact there is no end in sight or currently likely. Should the reasoning that got us where we are now be relied upon any further?

Like I say, cinch those belts.