One of the things I have learned in reading history is that states and organizations often miscalculate or underestimate the consequences of their actions and that such miscalculations can be disastrous with horrible consequences for millions of people.
In my coffeehouse discussions with people in Sacramento, I sometimes hear people say confidently that Bush cannot possibly attack Iran given the deplorable and exhausting military situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also, it is said that the concern that such an attack could generate a wider and very destructive regional war involving Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Israel, should naturally serve as a rational brake on the administration’s hawks. Furthermore, recent statements by Russia’s Putin publicly opposing threats to Iran should reinforce a posture of US caution and temper its military adventurism I heard many of these same types of arguments before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “They wouldn’t,” many said. But they did!
The neo-cons and Cheney, who are pushing intensely for an American air attack on Iran, have a different viewpoint. They argue that Iran is the spearhead of an alleged Islamofascism movement which must be defeated militarily throughout the world in the name of freedom and democracy. They call it the “long war on terror.” Thus, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the positioning of occupation military forces in both countries indefinitely.
To be successful in stabilizing regime change in those two countries, the neo-cons argue, Iran and Syria must also be neutralized, if necessary through the use of military force. Israel is also indicating that if the US doesn’t attack, it will. It’s recent air strikes in Syria a few weeks ago were seen by most analysts as directed at Iran. There is no talk of coexistence here.
Iran has been extensively demonized by the American media. We hear it daily on our TV sets – Iran is the “number one threat to American security”, it aids the insurgency in Iraq and provides weapons to Iraqis to kill Americans, it is the largest state supporter of international terrorism, and secretly seeks WMDs. Recently, the Congress voted to call the Iran guard a “terrorist organization,” providing an even greater pretext for invasion. All the justifications have been dutifully provided. Admittedly, comments by Iran’s Ahmadinejad against gays, and his inflammatory comments about Israel, have made it easier for many in both the Democratic and Republican parties to shrug their shoulders at the prospect of an attack on Iran.
In sum, the hawks in the Bush and Israeli governments argue that Iran is a legitimate target for “preemptive war”, most likely in the form of surgical air strikes with nuclear tipped bunker busters being dropped on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. All the weapons systems are now in place for such an attack.
Remember what an ignorant President Bush said after 9-11? “This Crusade,” he said, “this war on terror.” According to author Seymor Hersh, who recently spoke at the Mondavi Center at UC Davis, Bush really believes in what he is doing, and doesn’t care much for what the rest of the American people think. In his talk , it was clear Hersh was very concerned that an attack on Iran seemed imminent, although he said that it was still not certain.
Hawk in chief, Vice President Richard Cheney, speaking recently at a meeting of the Washington Institute of the Near East, said: “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: Wewill not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
Of course, three of our allies in the region have been allowed to accumulate nuclear weapons: Israel, Pakistan, and India. How about a call for a nuclear free Middle East, a nuclear free world?How Would Iran and the Anti-War Movement Respond ?
What will happen if the US launched air strikes against Iran? I believe the consequences are not completely foreseeable Hersh believes that Iran is ready to respond, although he wasn’t exactly sure how. They certainly could launch missiles as far as Israel. They could attempt to close the straights of Hormutz, an act that would certainly trigger further US military attacks.
Hersh argued that the Shiites of Iraq might get involved on Iran’s side and we would then be at war with 60 million Shiites. He said that we still have not had to fight these Shiites because they control the government. Hersh noted, however, that the strains of the occupation and recent US decisions to work with the Sunni groups and launch public US criticisms of the government, has already created anger and frustration.
So it is at least possible that Shiites in Iraq, angry at the US attack on Iran, could react by cutting various US supply lines to the benefit of Iraq’s insurgency.
The antiwar movement should do everything possible now to stop another war of aggression which could be a trip wire for a far more serious regional war which could create blood and suffering for millions of people. We cannot wait for an attack to happen. Furthermore, we should be aware that Israel’s involvement in the war has the potential to create serious divisions in the peace movement. Finally, recent events indicate that Iraq war could extend to the Iraqi-Turkish border with the Turkish military attacking the Kurdish PKK, which recently launched attacks into Turkey.
We can only hope that rational minds will prevail and such a attack on Iran and a wider war will be prevented through diplomacy. But where is there evidence of such rationality in the Bush administration?