The drums of war are beating again, if they ever stopped. After an embarrassing showing in the US’s recent outings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the rest, can the ruling class summon up the idiocy to attack Iran?
History shows the wells of stupidity run deep.
The International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran may be the most diminished non-religious document ever, such is the level of selective quotation and dishonesty to which it has been subjected. It contains nothing to indicate that the ‘mad mullahs’ are about to get their hands on nukes. Even if they were, would capability guarantee use? I’d suggest not. Regimes more erratic then Iran have existing nuclear weapons and there is little talk of these being deployed in some knee-jerk fit of monotheistic rage; Pakistan and Israel among them. There's been no talk of attacking these regimes, either.
Moreover, the myth of Iran’s insanity is due an MOT. Medhi Hasan pointed out that Paul Pillar, the CIA’s Middle East man, reports that there is no evidence that Iran is ‘irrational’ in its activities. To maintain any kind of rational thought while being surrounded on all sides by enemies (some nuclear, some not), enduring a long campaign to unseat you and the destruction of your neighbours by imperialism is fairly impressive. This is not a defence of the Iranian regime, but a defence of the people inside those borders. I don’t know many of them. Call me a damned liberal if you will, but on balance of probability they are better alive than dead. There have already been millions slaughtered and displaced in the countries to Iran’s east and west. Justifying the extension of the imperial project into Iran with jingoism and rightist fantasy is at best disrespectful to the dead. At worst, it calmly brushes off the murder of innocent people.
It is clear that Obama does not want that catastrophe, emancipator that he is. It might take the shine off his peace prize; especially as he escalated the war in Afghanistan the same month he took that trinket home. It would scupper him in elections which already look tough. Nonetheless, the American right may yet subordinate the lives of Iranians and American soldiers to the urge for power. If Obama is unwilling to attack Iran, they'll call it passivity and link this inaction to the economic crises. It is a clichéd analysis but nations have gone to war to distract from trouble at home. Obama faces serious issues.
Much has been made of the not-too-bright Iranian-American who apparently hired members of a Mexican drugs gang to carry out political killings in the USA on behalf of Iran. It sounds rather like a sub-plot of 24 but in reality, considering the abilities of Iranian military intelligence, it’s a Pink Panther script. More alarming is the weight which it has been given in the US; like a hook to hang the coat on.
Imperialism is bloodied. The on-going Arab uprisings, the failure to obscure the largely successful hijacking of the Libyan uprising, the predictable resistance by Afghans and the bloody failure in Iraq could all shape the imperialist response. Though hubris alone is not a driver, it is a factor. The idea that Iran should’ve been ‘done’ a long time ago flourishes in certain circles and the failures elsewhere could influence outcomes.
The military and intelligence community in Israel, like everywhere, is mostly composed of practical, unimaginative men. Their pragmatism seems to be holding impractical political ambitions in check. Meir Dagan, formerly a Mossad chief branded an attack on Iran ‘foolish’ and rebuked Netanyahu and Barak for hyping the debate. One suspects this is not because they have an issue with violent pre-emptive attacks on ‘enemies’ but because tackling Iran is not like recreationally strafing Palestinian children. Driven by increased isolation and the revolutionary upsurge in the region the more rabid sections of the Israeli government are rather keener to attack. Hopefully a few realise such plans shift once in contact with reality, though we cannot rely on that.
If the diversely located, tactically hardened bunkers in which Iran’s program is said to lay are pierced, it is unlikely Iran will run up the white flag. More likely that any military strike will justifiably accelerate any attempt to gain nuclear capability whether the attacks themselves are conventional or not.
Israel, in a sense, anchors US imperialism in the Middle East. Anchors keep things in place; things here being hegemony. If Israel moves against Iran, the US will be dragged along, whether it wants to or not. Israel is a functionary with its own agendas.
The most recent ‘final withdrawal’ from Iraq will leave a brutal regime backed by mercenaries and CIA operatives and foreign control of oil. In short it is less withdrawal, more a hopeful shift to quieter occupation. That imperialism has ‘handed power’ to its free Iraq could bring into usage the argument that Iran will consolidate its influence there. At least in propaganda terms this might be used to lubricate an argument to attack Iran.
Saying that Ahmadinejad is not the most popular man in Iran like suggesting Eric Pickles should go to work on a Boris bike; bleeding obvious. However it is idiocy to suggest that, in the wake of military strikes on their country and people, Iranians would suddenly realise that imperialism was right all along and overthrow him. It seems far more likely that an attack would rally great swathes behind him, his bellicosity making him an obvious choice for wartime leader.
Iranian nationalism would likely unify people against imperialism. If imperialist claims of doling out democracy and women’s rights were ever believed in the region, they are not in 2011. Cue air campaign, ground troops, a vicious war, perhaps destruction of Iran’s infrastructure from the inside, then the backing of shady vying factions and decades of insurgency. Complex and multi-facetted insurgencies from the Afghan-Chinese border to the Mediterranean would make BAE systems and private military companies ecstatic, keep Selly Oak hospital busy for decades and let academics build careers talking about them, but would they won’t liberate anyone.
Of course, we should not ignore that fact that Iran is not Iraq in 2003; fallen from favour, crippled, with the arms and armour we sold it destroyed by us over ten years. Nor is it Afghanistan in 2001; run by a grim regime of our choosing in a country gutted by centuries of tinkering and adventurism from outside, not least our own. Nor is it Libya in 2011 with a revolution to be commandeered.
This is not the analysis of a Middle East ‘expert’; there are better qualified people then me. Syria, Saudi Arabia et al also influence this situation and this must be acknowledged. However, when I ask soldiers, academics and citizens consensus is even and firm: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were and remain fraudulent, impoverishing and counterproductive; betrayals of people in those places and here at home for profit and influence. Bad enough, yet Iran would be worse carnage and the drums still beat.
Should the bruised imperial project move to take Iran it is likely to exceed the violence of the others, perhaps all of them together. We know blood is cheap to imperialists and they contentedly start wars other people fight. People with faces I knew cannot come home; in their place are coffins weighted for effect. Anti-war efforts have helped keep Iranian people clear of the plotting, comfortable men in Washington and London and we must keep them out forever. Their future is too awful to usher in.
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