Monday, 20 February 2012

Oh, what a lovely (upcoming) war

The plans for making war on Iran aren’t going so well despite the excellent brainwashing of the American public via a steady drumbeat of official hysteria and the faithful stenography of our media mouthpieces. But as it turns out, reality outside our borders is less easily manipulated than the fuzzy thinking of the domestic citizenry. Nevertheless, certain power-addicts are sure to keep trying, at our peril. [map: U.S. bases ringing Iran]

The first fantasy to explode is that this pre-war exercise in belligerence is about Iran’s nuclear program. As should be evident by now and is even admitted in moments of imprudent transparency, the U.S./Israeli goal is not non-proliferation but regime change in Iran, and the non-existent nukes are a convenient excuse for pursuing it.

Not that an Iranian nuclear capacity along the lines of Japan’s wouldn’t shift the strategic balance a bit. Clearly it would although probably a good deal less than the brilliant neo-con invasion of Iraq that eliminated Iran’s principal enemy. Despite the utter disaster they created, the same geniuses are back telling us we need to double down on death and destruction.

Since Israel launched the nuclear competition decades ago by building its own bombs, weapons proliferation in the Middle East is probably inevitable. Bipeds being bipeds, an eventual nuclear exchange there is as likely there as anywhere in the world. But there was a deal arranged by two neutral parties, Turkey and Brazil, years ago that could have resolved the immediate nuclear worries had anyone in Washington or Tel Aviv really wanted that. Instead, it was promptly shot down; active hostilities are preferred.

The economic sanctions imposed on Iran are apparently biting but hardly definitive. Petroleum prices are rising due to the war fears, and Iran’s losses suffered due to the U.S.-led boycott are made up by higher income per barrel. In my jaundiced and cynical view, the sanctions are not really meant to achieve their purported aims but to prepare the ground for escalation.

Since diplomacy is no longer of interest and the U.S. political class completely in thrall to Netanyahu, we can expect the attack to occur at the moment of maximum discomfort for Obama, accompanied by the active cheering of the disloyal opposition. Republicans will take delight in accusing Obama of failing to back the Israeli action to the hilt and simultaneously denounce him for the inevitable rise in gas prices at the pump that will accompany a war in the Persian/Arabian Gulf.

This scenario is the worst of all possible worlds and, as Stephen Walt writes, the reason why hawks should be eager to see Obama remain in office. If these crazy-ass schemes were being promoted by the Republican ayatollahs, there would be a hint of opposition afoot in the land.

Instead, it’s smooth-talking Barack who is leading us into the maelstrom of yet another useless war against people who do not threaten us. Our leadership duopoly is playing us with good cop/bad cop finesse, and as any defenseless prisoner knows, it’s the good cop who gets you to buckle in the end.

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