Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The war drums get louder....

Iran's president declares that Iran's nuclear programme is like a car with no brakes and no reverse gear....The neocons' clamour for an attack of Iran is rising to fever pitch. What they are saying is an exact repeat of what they said in the build-up to the invsaion of Iraq. Gideon Richman writes in the Financial Times:

The country is developing weapons of mass destruction; its leader is a new Hitler; he has connections with terrorists; time is running out; containment has failed; we must strike before it is too late.

If you think you have heard it all before, you have. The arguments for an attack on Iran are almost exactly the same as the arguments that were made for an attack on Iraq. The people making the case have not changed either.

Here is James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA, speaking at a conference last month about Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, president of Iran, and his talk of wiping Israel off the map: “Hitler meant it when he said he wanted to exterminate the Jews. It was spelt out in Mein Kampf. We need to take seriously what people like Ahmadi-Nejad and others say to their own followers. They are not lying; they are stating their true objectives.” And here is Mr Woolsey, speaking on American television in January 2003: “Saddam sounds very much, with respect to the 250m people or so in the Arab world, as Hitler sounded before world war two, with respect to Europe. The Ba’athist parties really are fascist parties . . . they’re anti-Semitic like them; they’re fascist.”

And here is the official summary of comments made at the same conference in Israel last month by Richard Perle, a former Pentagon official: “In possession of nuclear weapons, Iran is capable of using their terrorist networks to enable damage . . . The issue is one of timing and intelligence. You can’t afford to wait for all the evidence.” Once again, this is a reprise of a favourite tune. Appearing on American television in February 2003, Mr Perle argued: “Let us just agree that Saddam Hussein had those weapons and he is perfectly capable of transferring them to al-Qaeda.” Mr Perle emphasised the urgency of the problem: “There is a threat and I believe it is imminent.”

Newt Gingrich, a likely candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency next year and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, argued only last month that “the US should have as an explicit goal, regime change in Iran” because Iran is “the leading supporter of terrorism in the world”. In 2002, Mr Gingrich wrote: “The question is not should we replace Saddam? The question is should we wait until Saddam gives biological, chemical and nuclear weapons to terrorists.”

The people arguing for an attack on Iran allege that containment is failing. They said the same thing about Iraq. As early as 1997, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, was arguing that: “Rather than try to contain Saddam, a strategy that has failed, our policy should now aim to remove him from power.” Nine years later, Mr Kristol was urging a military strike against Iranian facilities and demanding: “Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained?”.....

The fact that the neo-conservatives and their allies are unabashed by their failure in Iraq does not mean that the rest of the world should be so forgiving. After all, these people positively begged to be judged by the results of the Iraq war.

Alas, the world may not be forgiving but that is not going to stop the neocons. I would dearly like to be proved wrong but each day brings us closer to an all-out American attack on Iran.


Anonymous said...

Dear Prof. Ram Mohan,
The war-dance steps are definitely the same, but the dance-floor is now different.

In 2002, the war party was at the height of its power. The world cowered in front of the fabled American might, and open planning for perpetual world hegemony. Formidable minds like Huntington, Fergusson, Hitchens, etc. were expounding on the benign benefits of U.S.Imperialism, and oohed and aahed about the tautness of U.S. biceps, like woemn at some body-builder show. There was absolutely no doubt that the United States would attack Iraq. Opposition seemed and was futile

What is the situation now? The war in Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. The U.S. cares little for humanitarian disasters for others- it is after all the state responsible for about 6 million deaths worldwide after WW II- but it is a major disaster for U.S interests too. Brzezinski frankly instructs in his recent book that “Three grand imperatives of U.S. imperial geo-strategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependency among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together”. Well, the barbarians are coming together in many ways and places. Samuel Huntington observed a few years ago that U.S. policies were creating a situation in which most of the world regarded the United States as a rogue state, a threat to their survival, and was forming coalitions against U.S. hegemony. Multiple centres of power have emerged and the U.S. looks like an imperial power in decline. The perception is inaccurate, but has seeds of future reality.

There is significant dissent within the U.S. elite, who think a war on Iran will greatly harm U.S.strategic interests. The Times reports that “up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack [on Iran].” Popular support for the war within the U.S. is less certain this time, on account of the wider debate, and exposure of past lies. An attack on Iran will likely harm the Republicans in 08. I think the dissent in the U.S. elite makes war less certain this time. We have to see how the policy debate plays out.
The U.S. will definitely not give up its goal of regime change and control of energy sources, of course. The debate is only about the means.

T T Ram Mohan said...

Tumbaru, I wish I could share your optimism. When it comes to manipulating public opinion (or opinion in Congress), the US administration has few peers.