Global, Israel, Politics

ð ðé ðéà ðéàå ðéàå÷ ðéàå÷å ðéàå÷åï àâ'ðãä

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.

13 thoughts on “ð ðé ðéà ðéàå ðéàå÷ ðéàå÷å ðéàå÷åï àâ'ðãä

  1. “Peace is achieved by reforming American foreign policy to be truly just”
    This won’t happen. Ever. Because policies are built on expedience and public relations, not justice.

  2. I don’t believe Hezbollah has the capability of destorying Israel. I believe Hezbollah has the ability to cause Israel to take self-destructive actions based on misguided response inspired by these neo-cons that could lead to its destructions.
    Let’s hope saner minds prevail.

  3. Keep writing intentional commentaries, Mobius. Eventually, that portion of your readership which has acclamated to being dumbed down to ‘soundbytes,’ will readjust.
    None of us are stupid, we just need to be thinking a bit more, conceptually.
    More after the demonstration.

  4. Okay.
    I disagree with a number of your premises and of course with your conclusion. 1. US military continues to meet recruitment goals despite ongoing war and disproportionate media focus on negative aspects thereof 2. I think that despite Bush’s abysmal support for the war, and his many flaws, he is a man with a strong back bone and will be willing to take on Iran if he felt they posed a serious threat. (Also, if they are successful in pulling off another 9/11 or something close in the US (G-d forbid) I think we will see that support overnight) 3. The fact that Hezbollah may have been a trigger to involve the US does not change the fact that this is Israel’s problem, you must be well aware of the current difficulties facing the IDF and much of the Israeli public. 4. What will it take to convince you that there is no settling the Palestinian issue, disengagement don’t work – they want it ALL (and in their speeches they say that clearly and explain that the current PR activity is their method of systematically ridding the M.E. of IL.) Case in point: We leave Gaza – Hamas gains power.
    We can philosophize and hypothesize all day. One thing is unambiguous – the intent and activities of our enemies. (We left Lebanon 6 years and they went straight to work digging themselves in and stockpiling weaponry specifically designed to kill as many people as possible)
    Philosophy doesn’t address every Katyusha that blows away a Jewish home, kills somebody (heaven forbid), or forces hundreds of thousands of people into shelters. These actions are undisputable proof that our enemy means business. Philosophy doesn’t blur statements by Nassrallah, for that matter Ahmedinejad etc. they say what their intentions are, to eradicate Israel and kill Jews.
    Our only resort is to send a strong message that they will only lose by attacking us.

  5. Jeffrey Herf’s What is old and what is new in the terrorism of Islamic fundamentalism?” was written five years ago and is still very relevant. Herf is Professor of Modern European and German History at the University of Maryland in College Park. His book The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust was published in May 2006 by Harvard University Press. He is also the author of Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge University Press, 1984); and the guest editor of the current issue of The Journal of Israeli History dealing with the theme: “Convergence and Divergence: Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in Historical Perspective.”
    Here is one paragraph. The last sentence is key.
    “Unlike the followers of the past centuries secular religions, today’s terrorists draw inspiration from an apocalyptic vision rooted in religious radicalism. Osama Ben Laden and Al Qaeda emerge in a melange of a global political culture in which elements of leftist anti-globalization discourse and reruns of fascist and Nazi visions of Jewish conspiracies merge with religious passions. Religion marks the clearest difference from the secular religions of the twentieth century. Because Al Qaeda knows how to speak the language of leftist anti-imperialism of the past century, it suggests a mood that overlaps with secular third world radicalism. Yet in the most crucial matters, such as its attitude toward death and suicide, and its stance toward rationality, it appears closer to the fascist and Nazi than it is to the Communist past. While the stand-off with Soviet Communism could end with its peaceful implosion, the only way the threat of terrorism inspired by radical Islam can end is, as was the case with fascism and Nazism, through its military defeat.”
    Also have a look at:
    Radical Anti-Semitism: Phase 2
    “[O]one of the most important implications of the cultural and intellectual history of Nazi ideology and propaganda has to do with what the dean of historians of the regime, Karl Bracher, long ago called “the problem of underestimation.” Both before and after 1933, Hitler’s contemporaries in Germany, Europe and the United States repeatedly assumed that he could not possibly be serious about either his absurd and fallacious interpretations of past events or his threats to “exterminate” the Jews of Europe. Many government officials, leading journalists, distinguished scholars fighting the Nazis agreed that no truly sophisticated analyst could assume that the lunacy of radical anti-Semitism could be the guide to Nazi policy. One result of the revelation of the death camps, as Hannah Arendt pointed out soon afterwards, was that the meaning of political sophistication needed to change.
    Today, when leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and, of course, Al Qaeda, make vicious threats against “the Jewish enemy” sophistication, common sense and elementary decency requires that we assume that these people mean what they say. We historians are the inheritors of grand traditions of comparative historical analysis. This is a time to recall them and put them to use in understanding this second, major era of radical anti-Semitism’s impact on world politics.”
    I know the looney leftists that gather here will read this as more “soundbytes” from the “neocons” but Herf has provided measured, reasonable and quite convincing evidence for his position.

  6. Despite the length of the piece, it seems the main points were nearly evaded. Regarding Iran, here are the questions:
    1) Is Iran trying to obtain nuclear weapons?
    2) If yes, when will they get them?
    3) If yes, is it possible that they’ll get them in advance of the time we think that they’ll get them?
    4) Based on what we know about Iran, what is likely to happen if/when they get nukes?
    5) If there’s even the smallest percentage chance that the Iranians would initiate a nuclear attack, would it be better to stop them now?
    6) If we decided to stop them, would attacks on their many nuclear sites with the USA’s new high-penetration bombs be enough?
    7) What would the costs of an attack on Iran be compared with the benefits?
    I do love the assertion (no doubt backed by a great deal of historical experience) that interfaith dialogue is the answer to Islamism. How sweet. If you want to see the Islamist’s version of what that dialogue would look like, just watch the Daniel Pearl video.

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