Monday, October 1, 2007

The Next Misstep

Global Politics is something that emerged after World War II. Prior to that, politics defined countries and maybe regions, but in the age of the Empires, it was not so much about global politics as about colonialism. What transpired after World War II was that countries were no longer at liberty to simply invade other countries. The UN had been founded and there was a capability for the Security Council to come together and draw up resolutions which would eventually empower nations to band together and sort out the offender. That never worked in the case of Israel, which has some 60 outstanding resolutions condemning it for various infractions, but it has been brought to bear on several countries more than once and in the end, it is the most effective control we have to prevent one country taking over another.

In this context, if you wanted to invade another country, you had to cook up some obscure tin-foil hat reason for doing so as the Russians did in Afghanistan back in the eighties and the United States did in Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Iraq and Afghanistan, just to mention a few. The pattern under the Bush Administration, because it is now growing to be a pattern, is to try and instill a sense of fear about the particular country one wants to bomb and to attempt to trigger something in the population tantamount to support for your lunatic plans. This worked wonderfully in Iraq as we saw and there are probably still a few million Americans out there who believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and was a threat and was responsible for 9/11.

With respect to Iran, this was the Iranian nuclear threat and the Iranian President, Ahmedinejad obligated by sounding similar to a lunatic whenever he spoke publicly. This was in part because he probably is a little wayward in some of his views and in part because his speeches would be conveniently translated in such a way that he spoke into our ‘listening’ for a madman. When the attempt to portray Iran as a possible nuclear monster failed to frighten the population of the West enough to support a war against Iran, the Neocons turned to the next tactic: Iran has been attacking our troops in Iraq and is creating havoc in Iraq – it’s the reason Iraq isn’t working and it’s the reason why so many Iraqis are dying every day, not to mention US soldiers of course!

Seymour Hersh has penned a new article in the New Yorker outlining this strategy and we may well see the Bush Administration start an Iranian war just in time for the elections next year. Hersh points out how even Petraeus’ testimony to Congress included a lot of anti-Iranian rhetoric. President Bush recently told Ryan Crocker, the American Ambassador to Iraq, that he was planning to hit select targets inside the Iranian border and that Crocker was to tell Iran that they were to stop interfering or face American retribution.

Bush and Cheney are simultaneously mobilizing the CIA to try and find a Casus Belli in Iran:

“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

“Not thought it all the way through.” How unlike the Bush Administration. Really. Because in Iraq they probably thunked it all the way through, but in a wildly imaginative and totally unrealistic scenario involving sweets, flowers and dancing in the streets, followed by rampant democracy. They probably think they’ve thought it through in Iran too but I would wager everything I possess that they are so wrong again.

The problem with the Bush Administration and the Neocons in general is that they misunderstand something fundamental: if you are a relatively small Middle Eastern country and you get hit by a big bad guy like the USA and you haven’t got a chance in hell of coming out of it in one piece by fighting fair and square, you will start to fight dirty. There are a billion Muslims waiting with baited breath to see if America’s attack on Iraq was simply hegemonic or it was a well intended if phenomenally flawed attempt at righting some wrongs. Any attack on Iran would convince them that the United States has just one aim in the Middle East and the world and that is domination.

The Bush Administration would like to pretend that the British are on board with this bellicose attitude but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The British have had long standing issues with the Iranians and they are certainly not interested in being their friends. But once again, Europe understands the consequences of a war that could unleash terrorism on a scale we have not seen before because the Islamic world would feel threatened to the core.

Hersh’s article ends with a reference to an attack in Afghanistan on an American C-130. The attackers used an SA-7 missile, similar to some that had been intercepted coming from Iran into the country.

Vincent Cannistraro, a retired C.I.A. officer who has worked closely with his counterparts in Britain, added to the story: “The Brits told me that they were afraid at first to tell us about the incident—in fear that Cheney would use it as a reason to attack Iran.” The intelligence subsequently was forwarded, he said.
The retired four-star general confirmed that British intelligence “was worried” about passing the information along. “The Brits don’t trust the Iranians,” the retired general said, “but they also don’t trust Bush and Cheney.

And nor do I.

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