Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Iran Attack? Warmed Over Reasons

Gadfly
by Mort Malkin
 
An Iran Attack? Warmed Over Reasons
 
In the beginning of the 21st century, George W Bush interpreted the terrible events of 9-11-01 as “My Pearl Harbor.”  Did his choice of words flow from his language skills? 
 
Near the close of the 20th century the NeoCon cabal published their infamous position paper, “Project For A New American Century.” In it they proposed total US (military) dominance around the globe and control of energy resources wherever. Funny, the document didn’t mention the sun or wind or tides. But, it was imaginative enough to plan for control of outer space and cyberspace. Paying for the enormous enterprise would require, of course, dissembling of costly New Deal protections for seniors, the poor, and the disabled. Well, how else would these good folks learn the benefits of personal responsibility? In the paper, the signatories despaired of realizing their goals, given the political climate of the time, unless there were “some catastrophic catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
 
Immediately after 9-11, the president, vice president and the cabinet met in the Situation Room in the basement of the White House. Secretary of Treasury Paul O’Neill was charged with reopening the Stock Exchanges post haste – a priority.  That the NYSE was only a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero and enveloped in a toxic atmosphere was only a minor inconvenience.
 
Not long thereafter, Rich Cheney dispatched himself to the near East to ask backing for an attack on Iraq. Jordan, Egypt, and Yemen, among others informed him that Iraq wasn’t a problem and that he’d best tend to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Vice was undeterred and went to his own CIA. The spooks told him that Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan. Cheney shook his head – Iraq was where the oil was.
 
Fast forward to springtime 2003. After a PR campaign featuring the imminent threat of Saddam Hussein’s dreams of WMDs, Iraq was bombed and invaded.  American military forces quickly conquered Baghdad and secured the Oil Ministry. The Iraqis were shocked but not awed. The arrogance of Viceroy Bremer was quickly followed by native resistance in the form of car bombs and other improvised explosive diplomacy. The American troops were trained for winning wars, not for occupying a nation of people whose customs and languages we did not understand. The occupation turned into a multifaceted war and is still with us, and with them.

The Vice, a man in a hurry, soon discovered Iran, another oil-rich state, conveniently next door to Iraq.  A strategically timed September ‘08 attack on Iran would give the Commander In Chief a guise to declare martial law and cancel the presidential elections. But what to do about a Supreme Court that could see its own role in the Republic at risk? The Justices might call the administration coup d’etat to Constitutional account. Too risky. An attack could, however, focus the public’s attention on the war on terrorism to help John McCain in the November election. If elected, Honest John might appoint Cheney to the Machiavelli Chair of the Very Privy Council – another four years in power.
 
An attack on Iran’s civilian nuclear works would require the support of the American public, and Americans might not believe another mushroom cloud prediction. Worse, the National Intelligence Estimate said Iran gave up its nuclear weapons ambitions five years ago and, in any case, is five years away from becoming a nuclear threat to anyone, near or far. Can’t the CIA and NSA keep anything secret?
 
Time for Plan B. Major General Kevin Bergner assembled a display of insurgent weapons captured in Basra and Karbala as proof of Iranian duplicity in the internal affairs of Iraq and worthy of at least a cruise missile attack. The Vice prepared to switch to “Iranian weapons are killing American troops.”  When the Army’s weapons experts were called in, though, they found the mortar shells and rockets were of Russian and Chinese manufacture and available on the open arms market. The carefullly prepared press conference had to be cancelled. Poor Richard Cheney couldn’t get a break. A related strategy was to claim the Revolutionary Guards were training Iraqi militias – smoking gun proof of Iran’s nefarious intentions.  The requisite Iranians were located in Baghdad and seized at luncheon in their hotel. One of them had an assault rifle. When an interpreter was brought in, the American captors learned the Iranians were engineers invited over by Iraqi officials to repair the water works of Baghdad.  The gunman was just a bodyguard. General Petraeus ordered the Iranians released and quickly apologized before Teheran could take the matter to the UN.
 
An Iran-attack strategy in search of a rationale is destined to run into the political realities of Near East intrigue. The Iranians, with their 6,000 year history going back to early Susiana, have political skills that are the envy of the West.  When the British sailors were seized off the coast of Iran and the UK claimed they were in international waters, the Iranians displayed photos of the boats within swimming distance of the shore.  At any rate, the sailors were treated well and, after ten days, were released. Iran received favorable press coverage featuring the Brits playing ping pong and lounging around in comfortable surroundings. Iran is equally skillful in dealing with its Arab neighbors and with the varied ethnic populations of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nouri al-Maliki just traveled to Teheran in return for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s previous visit to Baghdad. It should be noted that they conferred, not in the Green Zone, but in Baghdad proper under the protection of the Peshmerga militia, no Coalition troops needed. Iran also invited Moqtada al-Sadr, who spent a couple of weeks with the Ayatollahs.

So, it’s back to warming up Plan A. Iran’s civilian nuclear program may indeed turn military. All they need is 50,000 high speed centrifuges working 24/7 to enrich the refined uranium from 5% to 90%. Then there are other small details such as fuses capable of producing a chain reaction and ICBMs to deliver their message to the White House. Possible, but not imminent. Yet George and Dick have started a new PR campaign: “A military strike may be the only way to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” “A military strike may be unavoidable.”  The administration is also weighing a covert provocation. If Iran returns the compliment, then it’s war. Iran could unleash a variety of terrorists from Hezbollah to Iranian international rug dealers. The US must beware the Goddess of Unpredictable Consequences.

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