September 08, 2007

Slouching Towards Tehran

... by Marie

[Mary here: I found Marie's piece so compelling, that I asked her if we could post it here on Pacific Views too. She also sees the $50 billion extra Bush is asking for as a down payment on the attack on Iran.]

Without Blinding Flashes of Clarity - Those all to brief moments in our lives when our brains organize a bunch of discrete dots into a whole. An image of clarity that may either be completely new and novel or crystallize the previously fuzzy. The truly great minds always have such experiences and at a macro-level that is denied to we inferior beings. Our experiences are limited to the more mundane, less momentous or less insightful. We see nothing more than the dots strewn around or constructed by others and our individual powers of insight depend on the existence those dots. The fewer dots required for the neural reorganization, the greater the flash.

This is the stuff of both delusion and insightful perception, and sometimes the difference between the two isn't clear. When communicated to others, the overwhelming initial response is that the speaker is mad. Time, and usually more dots, sorts out the difference between the two. But sometimes time moves slowly which is why creationism remains so alive today long after Darwin published "The Origin of Species" which was long after he had that initial flash. Real insight also takes time to coherently organize before presenting it to others; delusions spew out quickly with little to no logical or rational mediation.

Bloggers, pundits and inhabitants of think tanks all like to think they are mucking around with the big stuff, demonstrating insight, when by and large, they are merely stuck in their own personal muck. Some occasionally get as far as the boundaries of their muck and fewer still get beyond it (thinking outside the box is the more common metaphor that is so hackneyed that everybody thinks that she or he is outside it when most are so far inside it that they can't even see the borders of the box). One who got way out of the muck forty years ago, so far out that his words remain relevant today, was MLK, Jr. in Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Read it or re-read it because it is the solid ground about where we are and where we're going in the coming weeks.

Another thing about about a "blinding flash" is that it is impervious to contradictory information or refutations. Is it delusion or real? Even those of us who on occasion barely get to the edges of the muck are treated as if our sanity is questionable. To the best of my recollection, I've only been there four times in my life. Been there, working with so few dots, that I did sound more or less nuts. Within a day or two of June 17, 1973 and September 11, 1973, sometime between June and October of 2000 and the evening of November 7, 2000. In the first instance, I saw the hand of Richard Nixon. The second was the hands of Nixon and Kissinger. The third was that Bush/Cheney would start another war with Iraq if they defeated Gore. The fourth was the body language and facial expression of GWB upon being told that the networks had called FL for Gore, and my gasp was, "My, god they fixed FL." This isn't about some psychic power; it's merely connecting dots that are in plain sight for everybody to read.

A psychic, not an ordinary intuitive American citizen, could have seen the specific events of 9/11/01 coming. The educated intuitive, like Chalmers Johnson, saw a significant form of blowback in the future of the US. The completely clueless (90% of Americans?) were so overwhelmed by the shock of 9/11 that processing it rationally and constructively was impossible without wise and calm leadership which in this country is about zero. Thus, as Cheney and Rumsfeld continued on with their OIL project, most Americans either slept (GWB knows what's best) or considered it so crazy that it must be impossible. Only all those with a need to know and weirdos like me knew what was really going on. The silent informed ones, including Tenet, Powell and Wes Clark, left informed patriots like Scott Ritter flopping around with the easily dismissed fruitcakes.

Slowly, ever too slowly in light off all the information that has surfaced since March '03, more Americans have taken on their blinders. Now when Hersh and Ritter speak, more listen. No longer are only the nutcases forewarning of a unilateral attack on Iran. The pattern seen in the build-up to getting their war on with Iraq is eerily similar. And yet this one has been so slow to materialize that it's been easy to conclude that it might be "off the table." Another item, like the destruction of Social Security, on Bush/Cheney's wish-list that is not to be. That in some mysterious way got derailed.

Oddly, absent a "blinding flash" but with far more supporting information, a Bush/Cheney attack on Iran never rose to the level of a sure thing for me as Iraq had in 2000. It languished in the zone of "maybe or maybe not," and it's been a far more pleasant place to live because I have lots of company here. The best company are those that have been and will likely continue to be several steps ahead of me. With Arthur Silber 9/2/07 The Repellent Whimpers..., and 8/31/07 The Pathetic Words: Too Late and just about everything else he's written of late. And Chris Floyd 8/30/07 Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock: Countdown to Midnight in Persia and a masterpiece on 9/2/07 Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead more related pieces both before and after. And I couldn't leave out IOZ The Coming Conflict, only one of many warnings from him. And I don't want to forget the one that kept me sane in 2002, Scott Ritter. Yes, Bush/Cheney still want Iran, but this time it's too crazy, too difficult to impossible, for them to get it. Or were the slight of hand tricks working on me this time? If so, they were also working on Noam Chomsky who like me has wavered on the Iran question. Finding myself on the same wave length with Chomsky Will the US Really Bomb Iran? isn't comforting but it does make the ground feel less squishy.

History can be both illuminating and blinding. I appreciate that many are articulating the ominous vapors emanating from DC as a sign that another 9/11 is approaching. Probably easier to reach that conclusion if it piggybacks on a belief that 9/11 was an inside job which I don't. And/or if one believes that Bush/Cheney is competent and confident enough to execute a similar one. Again I don't share that perspective. Plus, similar events rarely produce the same response as the first one; so, why invest in one when the outcome could easily be 180 degrees away from the last one? Finally, I still retain no doubt that the invasion of Iraq would have been a fait accompli without 9/11. However, there are historical elements in how Bush/Cheney got their war on that are instructive.

Legal authorization, public and foreign nation support and military assets in theater are the keys to then and now. (I'm sorry this is getting so long, but articulating even a mini-flash, which is all I've had, that doesn't sound crazy isn't easy.) It is to be recalled that Bush/Cheney were satisfied with the 2001 AUMF as all the legal authority they required to attack Iraq. If not for their administration nervous nellies and weak-kneed poodle, they wouldn't have bothered with Congress or the UN. They went ahead with garnering public support because it appeared to be an easy, no loss proposition given Commander Guy's historically unprecedented high approval ratings. They got it but not as quickly nor as thoroughly as they had expected. Had they known that their efforts in the foreign arena wouldn't bear any more fruit than the poodle already in their lap, they wouldn't have bothered with that one either. Of course, without any of those elements, they could still have been stymied because in a modern age, launching a full scale invasion in secret and thousands of miles from home is not so easy to pull off. I'll return to these pre-existing conditions later.

Now for a moment, and I know this may be dangerous for anyone's mental health and stability, let's get inside the minds of George and Dick and look at the proposal to take on Iran. First, Iraq isn't a disaster. Second, the job in Lebanon is incomplete (recall Clark's list of seven targeted countries), but Israel will take care of that when conditions are again right. Libya is completed, the Ethiopians are handling Somalia well enough, too many starving refugees in Sudan to bother with that one (not to mention China's line in the sand there). That leaves Syria and Iran. Kicking Syria out of Lebanon is enough for now. So, only Iran is left to deal with. What makes this rational, still na´ve and crazy, is that a decimated Iran undermines the majority Shia population in Iraq. Take out Iran, install a government in Iraq that the Sunnis can live with and presto, VICTORY is ours. The Middle East has been remade. (btw That will be the right time for Israel to strike Lebanon again.)*

Who could object to or prevent this? Theoretically, nobody could prevent it. Practically, Congress could make it very difficult. But they won't touch the only two options available to them: repeal or restrict the AUMF or cut off the funds. The most public Democratic Congressional voices have already endorsed removing Maliki and are on board with doing something about Iran. Thus, they don't want to tie Bush/Cheney's hands and are na´ve enough to believe that whatever they do will be retaliatory and not pre-emptive. Cheney has already shown part of his hand by saying that they can work with 35-40% public support which is sure to come to their side as soon as they begin dropping the bombs. A French poodle, now that Blair is gone, has signed on and that's enough foreign support for the Dick. But the window of opportunity for Bush/Cheney is narrow. The compliant Congress will become more obstreperous the closer they get to the next election and the lower their poll numbers remain. They don't want to take any risks that could possibly hurt the DEM nominee (or should I say Hillary because IMHO they view Hillary and DEM nominee as one and the same). Therefore, they are putting their heads in the sands of Iraq and hoping Iran doesn't help the GOP or hurt the DEM. Like Bush/Cheney, they too are hoping that Iran shoots first because then both parties could claim victory or if it doesn't go well, they expect that DEMs could use it to drive another nail in the GOP coffin. However, Bush/Cheney are better poker players than Nancy and Harry. They aren't asking them to show their hands. Merely to see them by putting another $50 billion in the pot; thus, any victory will be claimed by Bush/Cheney and defeat will be shared equally because, after all, how could they claim that they didn't know what that $50 billion was really for?

That brings us to the question of when. The additional $50 billion is only a side bet and not all that relevant. If the plan is limited to an air war operation, the window remains open through next spring. Three problems with the later rather than sooner scenario. War fatigue gets more pronounced with time. The hollowness of the Democratic Party's promise to bring the troops home becomes riskier with time and could force them to cut off the funds. Finally, an air war without adequate boots on the ground back-up will inflame the region and make the current situation in Iraq look tame by comparison. (Not a Cheney consideration but the Pentagon war planners know the limitations of an air war since they've been doing it for over sixty years. And unlike Afghanistan there are no obvious indigenous mercenaries to hire, unless they're looking to the Kurds which I have trouble believing even out semi-competent military would approve.) If a draft were in the cards, next year would be better, but it's not. Therefore, maximum available troop strength is between now and early December. All the other necessary pieces are either already in place, can soon be in place and will remain in place during that window.

As timing is the most difficult thing of all to pinpoint more than three weeks in advance, and I'm already way out on a limb without a net with the now to December projection, I should leave it at that. But what the hell, as I'm in for a penny, might as well make it a pound. (And give others bloggers the chance in the future to ridicule me for being even more wrong) Not before September 25th and not later than November 15th. Might even put a chip on not later than November 1st since the horror for me is projecting another war and not when, and I'd be happy to live with getting it wrong. And maybe, just maybe, these words are the flapping wings of a butterfly at the beginning of a long causal chain of events that lead us not to more war.

* Why didn't they think of this sooner? Like when they controlled Congress and Blair was still around? Oh, they did. Had it penciled in for 2005 or early 2006. But first Georgie and Karl just had to use up some of that political capital to rid the country of that evil Social Security. Darth Cheney liked it as well and figured they had plenty of time to deal with Iraq, what's another year or two when your power is fixed for at least forty more years. Then hits on them began to come their way. Public support dropped, Katrina, Iraq deteriorating and a flood of GOP and administration scandals. The fact that they were able to keep their heads above water through the '06 election is a remarkable achievement. More remarkable, given the fact that more scandals have since been exposed, is that they're still in the driver's seat with a now Democratic Congress and approval ratings in the toilet.

(x-posted on The Left Coaster)

Posted by PV Guest at September 8, 2007 03:02 PM | Guest Writings | Technorati links |