With October only a week away, the ‘surprise’ season is upon us, and the principal candidate for something nasty in the stretch before voting day is a new war in the Gulf. So it is timely that at least someone, somewhere, is asking an important question BEFORE the next war is upon us: What will it cost?
Let us briefly recall that the last two wars that we were sold, Afghanistan and Iraq (let’s not count Libya for now) turned out rather more expensive than we anticipated in both dollars and body parts as well as in prestige and the grudging affection our society and culture sometimes enjoy. They were also a lot easier to start than to end, a constant in war-making activities throughout human history.
So why, now that Iran has become the latest boogeyman that we should fear and possibly attack, and now that we are in thick into the one season of the quadrennium in which policy is supposed to be debated in depth and at length, why is it that we, the citizens of this country, are permitted no debate on the wisdom of waging war on that country?
Way at the top, there is plenty of nervousness about the idea of starting War #3 against a much tougher enemy than the rickety Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Here is the Washington editor of Bloomberg News, no less, one Albert R. Hunt, who pens a ‘personal opinion’ piece on the topic, appropriately titled ‘Americans Deserve Pre-emptive Debate on Iran Strike’:
The last two U.S. presidents have misled voters on the cost of armed conflicts. Amid another election, the drumbeats of war are sounding again. This time the subject is Iran.
There is a robust debate on the virtues and risks of trying to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities. That discussion is taking place in Israel.
In the U.S. presidential election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney parry over who has the smartest strategy for ensuring Iran doesn’t obtain the enriched uranium to develop a nuclear weapon. Both candidates warn about the dangers of Iran becoming a nuclear power.
There is almost no discussion on the costs of a strike to take out that nuclear capacity -- be it by Israel or the U.S -- in lives, money and regional and global standing.
Hunt goes on to remind us that Bush/Cheney promised Iraq would be a cakewalk and cheap, to boot, so we should do it to take away his weapons of mass destruction. It wasn’t, and there weren’t.
Then Obama insisted we needed a ‘surge’ of increased soldierly presence in Afghanistan to clean up that place and make sure no new bin Ladens appeared. Four years later, the place is in worse shape than ever, and the new bin-Ladenites are multiplying like fungi in a Petraeus dish.
So could we maybe possibly have a little serious discussion of whether we should bomb or support the Israelis in bombing the nuclear facilities of a country of 60 million people that sits along the most strategically sensitive real estate in the world?
This ‘strike’ is being peddled to us again with falsities, starting with the idea that it would be a one-time affair, a quick sortie like the destruction of Saddam’s nuclear installations at Osirik. But once an attack is carried out, what’s to prevent the Iranians from restarting the whole thing? Further attacks? A ground invasion? Having declared war on the country (just for the record, flying over a place a dropping bombs on it is an act of war), how will we react when the inevitable retaliation occurs, like maybe, um, on the New York City subways?
Hunt also notes the output of the Iran Project, chock-full of all sorts of weighty members of the foreign policy/security establishment, who lay out these discomfiting facts. So there is a debate taking place—we’re just not part of it.
By contrast, the citizens of Israel get to debate it fully.
Finally, the consensus at the top was further underscored this week by the delisting of the fanatical sect, Mujahedin e-Khalq (MEK) from the State Department’s terrorist list. This loony Iranian exile outfit supported Saddam Hussein during the worst crimes of his rule, keeps its own members in a state of Moonie-like control, and regularly commits terrorist acts. So why would the State Department decide they’re okay?
Well, as Glenn Greenwald summarizes, they’re OUR terrorists and carry out OUR dirty work, that’s why. And they’ve doled out a whole lot of cash to buy influence in a whole lot of the right places through people like Howard Dean and Ed Rendell. That’s right, nice liberalish Democrats joining the feeding trough like the best junior execs at Bain Capital. We can safely anticipate that our faithful scribes and stenographers from the major newspapers will not be pointing out this anomaly as it does not fit into the Red/Blue divide.
So when Obama and Romney stand there telling us how tough they are/want to be on who gets to attack Iran first and best, that might be the time to call up a Jerusalem newspaper on the Internet and get some sober thinking about the proper course of action. We won’t be getting any from our own guys.