|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Another coalition of the willing
A few weeks ago, we were told that Israeli forces had been ordered to be ready by the end of March 2006 for an attack on Iran. Yesterday, it was reported that Israeli chief of staff General Dan Halutz had insisted that no such attack was necessary in the short term; that the time for Israel to worry about Iranian nuclear weapons was if and when Iran actually had any; and that by then, perhaps five years from now, more powers than Israel would have an interest in deterring any aggressive use of nuclear weapons by Iran.
Today, UPI reports that some mainstream German media have backed up an earlier Turkish media claim that top US officials have been trying to get Ankara and other allies and clients on board for 'a possible military strike against suspected nuclear sites in Iran in the New Year'. Kurt Nimmo (via Gary Leupp, who has more) highlights the negligible impact of the Turkish story in the US.
For some months now Jorge Hirsch, a nuclear physicist, has been warning that a US attack on Iran is imminent. The attack would be mainly from the air, with some involvement of special forces and local proxies on the ground. It would include the use of at least tactical nuclear weapons. Hirsch argues that such a use of nukes is a major object of the exercise: to demonstrate US willingness to pre-emptively go nuclear, and thus put beyond doubt its nuclear credibility.
Professor Hirsch's fellow antiwar.com columnist, Gordon Prather, has been running a longer track of articles arguing that the US and EU case that Iran is in any kind of serious breach of the NPT is a bum rap, and that Iran is being set up. On the evidence presented, maybe - but Israel, India and Pakistan all developed nuclear weapons in secret, as former CIA analysts Bill and Kathleen Christison point out, arguing that the anti-war case should in no way rest on the proposition that Iran isn't doing the same. They also urge:
"The peace movements of the entire world should be in crisis mode right now, working non-stop to prevent the U.S. and Israel from starting a war against Iran."Needless to say, the peace movements are in no such crisis mode. One reason may that, learning from past mistakes, the US and UK haven't advertised any forthcoming attack on Iran. Instead, it has been stealth marketed. The assumptions and justifications that will be widely used after the fact have already been insinuated into public consciousness: Iran is in breach of the NPT, Iranian nuclear weapons are a threat to Israel and the West, Iran is aiding terrorists, etc. (Hirsch is good on this.) Another reason is that everyone's first response to the suggestion is that 'They're not that crazy! And don't they have their hands full already in Iraq?'
One answer to that objection was argued last September (i.e. before the recent Iraqi elections, which seem only to bear out its assessment of the US/UK predicament in Iraq, and also before the current trickle of revelations and speculations) by Mike Macnair, a British Marxist, in the middle of a long and complicated think-piece on antiwar movement strategy:
It may seem insane for the US to rattle sabres at Iran when the US's current allies in Iraq are the pro-Iranian islamist parties. But the internal logic of the situation in Iraq means precisely that the US needs to reduce the political autonomy of these parties in order to get a deal which will not look like a US defeat and a jihadi or islamic-revolutionary victory: and this means bringing Iran itself under control.[...]
If the US and its allies had been successful in their plan to remake Iraq as a neoliberal regime, its neighbours would have been targeted next. The occupation has in fact led to an ongoing and destructive guerrilla war. But military victory in the invasion and threatened political defeat in the occupation is also leading to new threats: right now to bomb Iran. The best way to stop US-British aggression is for it to be politically defeated at home. If it is not politically defeated at home, it will go on until it eventually creates a coalition of major powers willing to fight the US in a general world war.Cheerful cove, that Mike, eh? Always was. (I knew him, Horatio.)
Happy New Year.