Adam Ash

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

US Diary: beating those old war drums about Iran

Funny thing about Iran. It was a working democracy, but then they wanted their oil for themselves, so we overthrew their democratic government and put in our puppet the Shah, whose oppression led to the regime change of an Iran ruled by theocratic nutzoids.
Now we're cross with Iran because they want the bomb to insulate themselves against further interference from us.
It's obvious our dumb-fuck government doesn't read history. Iran held candle-lit vigils for America after 9/11 and then we declared them part of the axis of evil?
Jeez, we've got a crazy government, perhaps the most paranoid bunch since Stalin. Iran could've/should've been our best friends in the Middle-East. There were so many possibilities open to us after 9/11, and the Bushits closed them all, opting for the most narrow, self-limiting course. The Cold War fuckwits -- the Cheney/Rumsfeld crew -- have the imagination and creativity of dungbeetles.

Is Our Democracy Sleepwalking Into a Nightmare? -- by Gene Lyons

We hear a lot about “madmen” taking power in far-off lands, most often lands with large oil reserves. A few pertinent questions: Has the White House lost its collective mind ? Do the president and his minions believe that Americans can be stampeded into another needless war to save his party from the consequences of the catastrophe in Iraq ? Is the Bush administration seriously thinking of bombing Iran for political purposes ? Of a nuclear strike ? Is it actually possible, as has been said, that George W. Bush believes himself to be on a divine, messianic mission ? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then our democracy may be sleepwalking into its worst crisis since the Civil War. A pre-emptive strike on Iran, because it might hypothetically develop nuclear weapons five or 10 years hence, would be a naked act of aggression. Not to mention an offense against the U. S. Constitution. On what authority would Bush make war on a nation that played no role in 9 / 11, bears enmity toward al-Qa’ida and has never seriously threatened to attack the United States ? His own God’s ?

So far, Iran hasn’t even violated the non-proliferation treaty giving signatories the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use. It boasts of purifying a small amount of uranium ore to the standard needed to generate electricity. Experts say Iran would need roughly 100 times its present refining capacity over several years to accumulate enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb. Despite the absurd and offensive posturing of its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a demagogic politician playing to his own base, no immediate danger exists.

Yet many of the same keyboard commandoes who orchestrated the propaganda campaign that drove the U. S. into Iraq are beating war drums. Scary “intelligence” claims again proliferate. The same geniuses who claimed to know the precise location of Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction now warn us of Iran’s double-secret arms programs. Full-page ads have appeared in newspapers in the U. S. and Europe conjuring the prospect of Iranian nuclear attacks against Israel and the West, an entirely imaginary scenario.

The other day Bush, sounding like a Valley Girl, told a California audience he’d tried to avoid war with Iraq “diplomatically to the max,” a falsehood so brazen that it’s almost tempting to fear he believes it. Given that British government documents portray Bush discussing with Prime Minister Tony Blair how to justify an attack against Saddam Hussein in early 2003, it’s reasonable to wonder what schemes he’s conjuring now. He also credited “the Almighty” as the inspiration for his foreign policy.

At times like these, it’s worthwhile recalling George Orwell’s distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Orwell wrote the essay “Notes on Nationalism” in 1945, just as the most cataclysmic war in human history was ending in Europe.

“By patriotism,” he wrote, “I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world, but has no wish to force upon other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.”

Nationalism, as Orwell defined it, “is inseparable from the desire for power.... A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige.... His thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations.” To Orwell, it was “power hunger tempered by self-deception,” a kind of moral insanity.

Presaging his masterpiece “1984,” Orwell was most alarmed by the fervid nationalist’s indifference to reality: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage—torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side.”

An interesting list under present circumstances, don’t you think ?

More recently, the eminent Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld has cautioned that hysterical warnings about this or that country—Russia, China, Pakistan, India—developing nuclear weapons have occurred regularly since Hiroshima. Yet the taboo against their actual use has held, partly because rational actors know that even the “tactical” weapons which Bush administration toughs fantasize about are upward of 10 times more powerful than the A-bombs dropped on Japan. Also because, van Creveld makes clear, deterrence works. Israel, he writes, “can quickly turn Tehran into a radioactive desert—a fact of which Iranians are fully aware.” To violate that taboo would justifiably turn the U. S. into a pariah state. It would all but guarantee eventual retaliation in kind. Even a conventional bombing campaign against Iran would, at minimum, send world oil prices skyrocketing, with disastrous economic consequences. Real patriots must prevent this madness from happening. The generals are speaking out. Where are the Democrats and the sane Republicans ?

(Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.)


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