Sunday, 20 July 2008

Ideologues and dangerous days

Most commentary on the possibility of an attack on Iran these days concludes that the conditions just aren’t there, that even an autistic wacko like Bush realizes that starting yet another unwinnable war, either directly or through Israeli surrogates, will push petroleum up to $400 a barrel and cause economic and political havoc. So, the consensus goes, despite the Cheney gang’s enthusiasm for leaving office in a blaze of fireworks, it just isn’t going to happen.

That logic, however, operates on a couple of assumptions. One is that the Israelis occupy the same planet as we do, and there’s growing evidence that this is optimistic. Israeli historian Benny Morris just wrote in the New York Times that the attack on the Iranians in fact is coming and that we’d better hope it works. If not, he argues, the Israelis simply will escalate to nuking them further down the road.

Morris argues that the Iranian mullahs are irrational and don’t care if their country is destroyed if in the process Israel is too. This blithe acceptance of nuclear destruction tells you something about the state of debate among the Israeli leadership these days and the level of apocalyptic paranoia that obtains there.

The other hasty assumption commentators here make is that the Cheneyite co-conspirators with these trigger-happy Israelis are planning to leave office next January. Having got to the White House through a judicial coup in the first place and spent eight years dismantling restrictions on their power left and right, it would be entirely in character for them to find a way to undermine the popular will more decisively, no matter how the voting shapes up.

A wild scenario? Perhaps. But my years in South America have taught me not to put too much blind faith in the inevitable permanence of civilian power and the rules of modern states, especially in a time of national crisis. The Bush cabal keeps saying Democrats are a tool of the enemy. Is it such a stretch to keeping them away from the levers of state?

Twilight Highlights: We’ve had a good laugh over McCain advisor Phil Gramm’s stupid comment that we’re now a ‘nation of whiners’ who can’t just move on from bankruptcy and unemployment and enjoy life. But this biped really deserves a special medal be created in his honor for calling AT&T chief Ed Whitacre ‘the most exploited worker in American history.’ His martyrdom occurred when he received only $158 million in severance pay instead of the $1 billion Gramm insisted he was worth for his sterling executive performance. Brilliant McCain campaign at work--the race is tight!

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