Thursday, October 4, 2007

Why Washington Needs to Bomb Iran

The danger of an unjustified and inexcusable war with Iran is great because
there are many reasons why Washington needs to bomb Iran.

Reason #1. Washington culture is a "blame culture." There are two broad approaches to a problem – focus on finding a solution or focus on blaming someone. The Washington culture plays the blame game. Laying blame is much more important than finding a solution. For a superpower to admit that it cannot can’t beat a "ragtag" bunch of Iraq insurgents is simply embarrassing. The Washington culture, however, unfortunately does not permit the acceptance of personal blame. Officials hardly accept responsibility for their behavior, almost never voluntarily retire, and certainly don’t commit suicide to atone for their errors, as, say, a Japanese official might. So…the looming U.S. defeat in Iraq must be someone else’s fault, and we are certainly not going to blame those close friends of the Bush family, the royal family of Saudi Arabia no matter how many Saudis join the insurgents. Washington is trying to blame the Iraqi government, but since Iraq is a U.S. colony, blaming the regime we installed is a pretty thin cover. And almost everyone in the U.S. must now understand that despite al Qua'ida’s efforts to exploit the U.S. predicament in Iraq, neither the Iraqi internal struggle for power nor the fight to free the country from American control really has much of anything to do with al Qua'ida. Washington also tried blaming little Syria – but that was simply pathetic. So, who else is left but the mad mullahs of Tehran?

Reason #2. What right do the Iranians have exerting influence over a neighboring country or maintaining ties to their fellow Shi’a living next door, anyway? Don’t they realize Iraq is now in the American sphere of influence? Why do they think we built those huge military bases designed for regional offensive force projection?

Reason # 3. The Bush-Cheney administration has failed on all counts, in both foreign and domestic policy. In foreign affairs, the world has been alienated, bin Laden has escaped and al Qua'ida metastasized, Afghanistan wobbles on the edge of collapse (except for its historic boom in narcotics exports), Russia and China are strengthening strategic ties, Russia is emerging again as a world oil power, Latin American populist reform movements are regaining both influence and an anti-U.S. hue. In domstic policy, civil rights have been weakened, environmental protections trashed, and the population divided into those who believe the lies from the administration and those who do not. But—given the amazingly short memory of the American public—a good war will cover all this up.

Reason #4. Trapping the Democrats. Admittedly, a U.S. attack will provoke endless problems. Our forces in Iraq will be sitting ducks, dependent on very long supply lines, and the fate of the Neo-con Armada in the Persian Gulf is not exactly clear either. Our reputation in the world will be further tarnished, with incalculable long-term consequences. Nuclear proliferation will probably surge as the world digests the lesson of a U.S. attack on non-nuclear Iran. The impact on the stability of Pakistan and Mideast regimes seen as U.S. allies is anyone’s guess. But by the time the bill comes due it will be the Democrats who will be in the White House…and having to deal with the fallout from an attack on Iran will just totally ruin their day.

Reason #5. Absence of national will to face our real problems. This country is facing numerous tough problems – pollution, corporate crime, global warming, dismal secondary education, the slow collapse of the health care system, an economy resting on the willingness of the Chinese and Japanese to keep allowing us to borrow money—but we have no national will (and certainly the White House has no will) to face up to these problems. A nice little foreign war would be such a convenient distraction.

Reason #6. When you have a hammer...Superpowers are expected to exert their power, but U.S. power in all aspects except military has been undergoing a relative decline in recent years. Our national economic irresponsibility in living beyond our means by borrowing from the Chinese and living for current consumption rather than investing in the future is undermining our economic leadership. The administration’s penchant for trying to solve all problems with force and violating international norms is undermining our moral leadership. The administration’s clear preference for unilateralism rather than diplomacy is undermining our political leadership. War is what we’re good at, and we’re a superpower. I mean, we have to do something, don’t we? If the only tool you have is a hammer…

And then there are the two main reasons we attacked Iraq in the first place…

Reason #7. Giving the Mideast to Israel. How else can Israel become lord of the Mideast? If the goal is to make Israel the Mideast superpower, destroying Saddam was but the first step toward that goal. Tehran is no more willing to kowtow to Israel than Baghdad was. Whether this plan to make Israel America's regional superpower will actually enhance the security or strengthen the democracy of the Israeli people is not being thought through at all.

Reason #8. How else can Big Oil gain control of global oil supplies? Iran’s oil and gas supplies may not suffice to give that country long-term energy security, but they certainly constitute a significant chunk of global supplies over the near-term, particularly given the catastrophic state of the Iraqi petroleum industry.
The vision of American global empire laid out by the neo-cons in public statements--long before 9/11 provided a convenient opportunity to act--cannot be realized by stopping with Iraq, which even by Mideast standards is not a large country and was very much in decline by 2003 as a result of 12 years of U.S. attack. If one opens one's eyes for a moment (admittedly uncomfortable in the dirty water of global affairs), one may catch a glimpse of sharks circling a defeated Iran: a reinvigorated Russian-Chinese strategic alliance or an Islamic and nuclear-armed Pakistan. But Iran is the snapping turtle biting the neo-con toe today... a potential regional power, and one that stands steadfastly in the road of the neo-con imperial vision.

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