Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Let's Lose Another War

There have been protests this week about the War in Iraq, including Danny Schechter and Media Channel's Ides of March attempt to protest the media.( )
I preserve my memory and sanity by avoiding looking at television, having long ago decided that uniquely among the media, television actually drains information from viewers' brains, leaving fuzzy subliminal impressions in their place.

In September 2003 it was reported that some 70% of Americans thought that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11 attacks, and this month, the Zogby poll confirmed my suspicions about the motivation of the GI's in Iraq. Some 85% of them believed that they were in Iraq to pay back Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis for the World Trade Center. One suspects that rises to 100% among the sundry low-level dog-handlers, tormentors and torturers facing trial for events at Abu Ghraib, and even among those not facing trial in Guantanamo.

Their belief is an amazing testimony to the power of oblique suggestion. If you parse the administration's speeches, you will not find an explicit accusation, but you will find plenty of hints. They were told they were in Iraq fighting the "War on Terror," so what else were they supposed to believe. Like everybody else relying on American TV for their news, the GI's would have seen daily on their screens a backdrop with the title "The War on Terror" over a triptych of Bin Laden and Saddam flanking a picture of the burning twin towers. Before Bin Laden unaccountably dropped off the wanted posters, that is.

Of course the decision makers in Washington and in the media knew that there was no connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. But whether through incompetence, misguided patriotism, or complicity, the American media pretty much failed to dispel the smoke, letting the administration have its way.

Now, watch out for Iran, and you can see the same process beating the drums for war. "Iran is accused of supporting un-named terrorists. Bin Laden is a terrorist. So Iran supports Bin Laden, therefore Teheran has to pay for the World Trade Center." It's an easy game of joining the conspiratorial dots highlighted for you by the administration and endorsed by sloppy commentary that uses words like "terrorist" without thought. (John Brown and the Boston Tea Party-goers would all be in Guantanamo quick as a flash if the administration's flexible definitions had their way.)

This week George Bush announced that action was necessary against Iran to protect Israel. presumably in an attempt to woo a key constituency in the run up to the mid-term elections, as well as marshal support for his latest military idiocy. In doing so, he incidentally boosted the thesis of Professors John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt, who in the London Review of Books ( ) elaborate the case, widely taken as axiomatic by friends and foe alike across the world, that in the Middle East the tail has been wagging the American dog.

Regardless of the motives, Iran is definitely in the bomb-sights of those wonderful people who gave you the Iraqi debacle. As the Russians' UN Ambassador, on the receiving end of American pressure to ratchet up the diplomatic threats to Iran said, "At this rate we'll be bombing Iran by June."

Even more frightening, my old friend Dan Plesch ( gave a paper in London in which he claims to have the details of the replay of shock and awe against Iran.
The US military is poised to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a surprise attack using Stealth and B52 bombers, backed by tactical aircraft and special forces that can reach the whole of Iran in an hour from Iraq, the Gulf and Central Asia."

Personally, I think Dan may give a little too much credence to the Pentagon's competence. The seductions of casualty-free reliance on air force and bombs always seems to manage to induce amnesia about its failures. From the time the British used it in Iraq after World War One, through strategic bombing in World War II, and on to Vietnam, and indeed Clinton's misguided reliance on it in Kosovo, it has never been as effective as its proponents claim.

More to the point, is the strategic political incompetence of such plans which seem to blithely discount the dangers of Iranian retaliation against Israel, of Shi'a uprisings in Iraq, and mayhem in Afghanistan, not to mention the dangers to the precarious US economy of the huge exponential oil prices, when no oil can leave from the region as Iran closes the Gulf.

Many people seem to assume that the lunacy of the project is a barrier to its attempted execution. Recent history suggests that it wouldn't be wise to put too much faith in the Sanity Clause in the White House. This week the British, who despite Blair's poodlish propensities still have a handle on reality, proposed to the Security Council team negotiating with the Iranians that they make some serious concessions to Teheran on the civil nuclear issue and that the Americans should be on the team. The response of the American hawks was to leak the proposal, and mop it up publicly.

As a matter of principle, the White House will not talk to the Iranians, unless of course it is about Iraq, where desperation drives all principles, real or feigned out of the window.
The aim is not a settlement, it is the Roman strategy, to create a desert and call it peace.

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

Whether or not we have to go to war with Iran is not clear to me. What is clear is that we must not go to war again with our current non-credible leadership. Iran won't have their Nukes tomorrow, so there's time to get rid of our nuts. In the meantime, left alone, the Iranians might get rid of theirs.