Ã° Ã°Ã© Ã°Ã©Ã Ã°Ã©Ã Ã¥ Ã°Ã©Ã Ã¥Ã· Ã°Ã©Ã Ã¥Ã·Ã¥ Ã°Ã©Ã Ã¥Ã·Ã¥Ã¯ Ã Ã¢'Ã°Ã£Ã¤
A Fox News poll conducted in May 2006 shows that only 24% of Americans consider Iran an imminent threat, while 63% consider it only a potential threat. Despite 85% saying they don’t believe Iran one bit about its nuclear intentions, were Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, only 48% of Americans would support an invasion. Finally, only 35% of Americans believe preemptive action against Iran is necessary, while 44% believe it unnecessary, 51% opting for sanctions and 39% for diplomacy.
Can Bush mobilize support for strikes against Syria and Iran? It is certainly among his administration’s strategic aims. And with a clear record of “purposeful misrepresentation of intelligence” and a wholly gullible American polity which loses its shit every time something blows up… Who knows? The re-election of the Bush-Cheney team after Iran-Contra, the S&L scandal, and the Gulf War fiasco — because of the “core American values” supposedly challenged by an Oval Office blowjob — points to an America which suffers from a painfully short memory and a mesmerizing preoccuption with legislating other people’s sex lives (abortion, gay marriage, sex education, television/radio/videogame indecency).
Does it matter that the American military is already too understaffed to complete its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq? Did the military and intelligence communities warnings prior to the invasion stop Bush? Of course not.
Just ask Richard Perle:
No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq… this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war… our children will sing great songs about us years from now.
To be sure, we are not dealing with rational people here. Their designs for a New Middle Eastern Order cannot be disrupted by something so flimsy as the recommendations of their own policy strategists or senior military commanders. Rather, these are people who will out CIA agents in order to silence intelligence which contradicts their agenda.
Yet for all its anti-Iranian posturing, the administration’s intentions are still considered vague:
The question is how serious [the administration is on deterring Iran], and on that question the administration seems happy to create a strategic fog. Officials at the Pentagon say military planners are examining and updating a variety of contingencies for possible military action against Iran. But they quickly add that such updates are routine.
As the Iranians were announcing that they had successfully enriched a test amount of uranium, the U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, dismissed the growing tempo of reports about plans to attack Iran as a “fantasy land” and insisted that the administration was sticking to the diplomatic track in its dealings with Tehran.
When asked whether he had directed the Joint Chiefs of Staff or Central Command to update or refine the contingencies the military is preparing for Iran, Rumsfeld bristled.
“The last thing I’m going to do,” he said, “is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don’t refresh a plan, and why. It just isn’t useful.”
Even neocon strategist Michael Ledeen, the staunchest advocate of Iranian regime change advising the Bush administration, has said that “no Western government — sadly including the Bush administration — has any intention of taking serious action against Iran.” Nonetheless, Ledeen and his cohorts are cooking nuclear scare stories in order to mobilize public support for action against Syria and Iran.
According to Larisa Alexandrovna at Alternet,
Military brass and intelligence experts have been watching Iran with concern since 2003, when the entire world was focused on Iraq. [Seymour] Hersh reported for The New Yorker: “Israeli intelligence assets in Iraq were reporting that the insurgents had the support of Iranian intelligence operatives and other foreign fighters, who were crossing the unprotected border between Iran and Iraq at will.”
[…] Although the United States had just recently invaded Iraq and was still by all appearances in search of WMD, the military civilian leadership at the Pentagon, under the leadership of the vice president’s office, [did] not secure Iraq’s borders, is alleged to have actively promoted propaganda about Iranian WMDs [coming across Iraq’s borders], and began planning covert ops for Iran.
Alexandrovna notes that the US administration was looking for “a trigger” (a “new Pearl Harbor” if you will) that could prompt its intervention in Iran: “When I was told that Israel had begun a military strike on Lebanon, for me there was no question: This was the trigger.”
It should be noted that in 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and other leading neocon strategists co-authored Israel’s own miniature version of The Project for The New American Century’s controversial “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” policy paper (the source of the now infamous “new Pearl Harbor” quote, which calls for the US to engage in advanced military operations against Islamic regimes in “multiple theaters” simultaneously). The 1996 paper declares Israel’s need to engage Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, much as it is today.
I’m left wondering, now, if Gareth Porter is correct in his assessment that,
In planning for the destruction of most of Hezbollah’s arsenal and prevention of any resupply from Iran, Israel appears to have hoped to eliminate a major reason the US administration had shelved the military option for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program – the fear that Israel would suffer massive casualties from Hezbollah’s rockets in retaliation for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Were the “barriers for entry” lowered far enough — say by provoking a large scale attack on Israel in hopes of bringing about more resolute public support for action against Iran (particularly from the Jewish, Evangelical and conservative blocs) — could Bush use the Democrats’ soon-to-come troop redeployment (just wait til November) as an excuse to send an incapable force into Syria or Iran?
This is somewhat a deviation from my prior thoughts that the Bush administration was prompting Israel to advance its own agenda. It now appears possible that they’re prompting each other.
Olmert’s remarks following his May 23 meeting with Bush seem to indicate as much:
The Iranian issue was discussed, indeed, between the President and myself. And we’ll continue to talk about it later. Obviously, there is a major threat posed, as I’ve said already, and the President said, by the Iranians and their attempts to have non-conventional capabilities and also to build up delivery systems and the ballistic missiles that can hit major centers all across Europe, not just in the Middle East.
This is something that needs to be stopped. We discussed this issue at length, and there is a total agreement and understanding between the President and myself that there is a need to stop it. And we reviewed the different ways how to do it, and I am very satisfied with what I heard from the President and on what we agreed that we would continue to do in order to achieve this goal.
Though the Bush administration has stated previously that Syria is off the table, it is clear that the administration has no problem allowing Israel to do “Washington’s dirty work.” Whether this will lead to U.S. action in Syria or Iran, or joint U.S.-Israel action, or further Israel-as-a-U.S.-proxy action is yet to be seen.
Unless Americans and Israelis both snap out of it and realize we’re being marched straight into a trap set for us by Islamic extremists — who we know are made infinitely more powerful by American and Israeli military intervention (which lends itself to impressions of Western imperialism and Evangelical crusading) — we are going to very quickly find ourselves eating the shit end of the Armageddon stick.
Peace is achieved by reforming American foreign policy to be truly just, bolstering reformist elements in radicalized nations, satisfactorily resolving the Palestinian question, and offering positive economic incentives in exchange for disarmament (instead of negative economic incentives, such as sanctions). You cannot achieve peace by killing civilians and radicalizing their friends and relatives. Likewise, you can only adequately confront Islam through interfaith dialogue, not by fulfilling the prophecies of extremists.
Though radical Islamism is in no uncertain terms a real threat, by the accounts of even once-proud neoconservatives themselves, their strategy for engaging this threat has proven to be a collosal failure. Amidst this ongoing fighting, crosstalking, flagwaving and chestbeating, oil prices continue to rocket sky high, and Bush, Ahmadinejad & Co. continue to post record profits, while working families suffer and innocent lives are lost, in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
In the August 4 edition of Haaretz, Daniel Levy asks,
After this crisis will Israel belatedly wake up to the implications of the tectonic shift that has taken place in U.S.-Middle East policy?
[…] Disentangling Israeli interests from the rubble of neocon “creative destruction” in the Middle East has become an urgent challenge for Israeli policy-makers. An America that seeks to reshape the region through an unsophisticated mixture of bombs and ballots, devoid of local contextual understanding, alliance-building or redressing of grievances, ultimately undermines both itself and Israel. The sight this week of Secretary of State Rice homeward bound, unable to touch down in any Arab capital, should have a sobering effect in Washington and Jerusalem.
Afghanistan is yet to be secured, Iraq is an exporter of instability and perhaps terror, too, Iranian hard-liners have been strengthened and encouraged, while the public throughout the region is ever-more radicalized, and in the yet-to-be “transformed” regimes of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, is certainly more hostile to Israel and America than its leaders. Neither listening nor talking to important, if problematic, actors in the region has only impoverished policy-making capacity.
Israel does have enemies, interests and security imperatives, but there is no logic in the country volunteering itself for the frontline of an ideologically misguided and avoidable war of civilizations.
It is time for a different track.