Friday, February 02, 2007

Laying The Groundwork....

As I've been thinking about what will justify the eventual use of military force against Iran -- something this White House both wants and desperately needs -- the "public preparation" factor looms large. This sort of thing can't just happen, of course. There needs to be some sort of provocation. Aside from the WMD sham, we know that in the weeks before the Iraq invasion President Bush, doubting the inspectors would find WMD's anytime soon, proposed repainting U.S. spy planes with the colors of the U.N., hoping Saddam would fire on them and thus provide a casus belli. It's undeniable that the last two major wars the U.S. has fought -- Vietnam (Tonkin) and Iraq (WMD's) -- have been based on cherry-picked, massaged, or fabricated intelligence (I'm not including Operation Desert Storm as a "major war"). We've now got quite a distinguished history of lying our way into war when other nations won't give us a reason. This should outrage anyone who is really interested in stopping nuclear proliferation in places like Iran, as we've made it crystal-clear that unless a nation possesses the ultimate deterrent, it risks being attacked by a superpower manifestly willing to concoct a frame-up or provocation.

But for the provocation to be plausible, the public needs to be prepared. The groundwork can be direct -- and most of the breathless commentary on Iran qualifies -- or subtle. The latter can be just as effective. An insidious effect of the call for engaging Iran in dialogue about Iraq is the perception it creates that Iran, at the very least, must be responsible for something. Otherwise what would we have to talk about? It reminds me of Planet of the Apes, when Zira calls out the judges at Taylor's sham trial: "Then why is he called the accused? Your Honors must think him guilty -- of something." (And Zaius's response, incidentally, is: "This man is not being tried. He is being disposed of.") Joe Six Pack and Sally Soccer Mom aren't going to remember that the Bush administration refused the direct dialogue route or even what we might have talked to Iran about. When the eventual "provocation" occurs, they'll remember only something vague about "talks" or "negotiations" (negotiations, yes, it must have been about those nuclear missiles they were about to launch!) and how that never went anywhere, and well we sure gave them a chance but those damn Iranians just wouldn't cut the crap.

I'm not suggesting that anyone (the ISG, for example) is calling for dialogue with Iran as part of some dark plot to make the eventual use of force more palatable for the public. I am suggesting that the constant call for dialogue in some quarters (and yes, that includes this space) might backfire in a way its advocates will regret most. The White House realizes this, of course -- and is counting on it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

2/02/2007 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fear you are absolutely correct. Ugh.

The whole thing is completely insane. We invade the country and prop up an Iraqi government that is *aligned* with Iran. And then we complain about Iranian influence? The only way this works at all is because the general population is not paying attention. So we're back to your original point..........

2/02/2007 2:45 AM  
Anonymous Mayo said...

Slowly I turned, step by step...
-Lou Costello

Yes, the way to war in our democracy has been to feign or provoke at attack, the Maine, Gulf of Tonkin, etc. But what should concern all of us is that the troops in Iraq have already served two and even three tours of duty, this we know. Are new recruitment's down? opinions differ, so I suppose this is something that "we don't know we know".

Lets assume that we "knock out" Iran's nuclear capabilities. Why if they were willing to risk such an attack are we assuming that they wouldn't simply, to use a familiar pre Iraq phrase, reconstitute the program. Shouldn't our experience in Iraq cause someone to ask, are we planning to garrison the Middle East? Why should we think that these policies if successful would mean a troop withdrawal?

We all know it's the demise of the former Soviet Union that makes our preemptive policies in the Middle East possible. Recently Russia and Iran signed an agreement for Moscow to supply fuel to Iran's new nuclear reactor in Bushehr. More importantly, why hasn't the public been informed of Russia's reaction to the American attempts to reshape the Middle East?

Russia is reported to be supplying missile defense material to protect Iranian nuclear sites. Leaders need to be as candid as Zbigniew Brzezinski was in, The Grand Chessboard: The Modern Middle East, what Brzezinski calls the Eurasian Balkans and all of which the former Soviet Union considers it's "soft under belly".

But if we are in WW III.5, will those who support preemptive military actions also support a call for a draft? Or are we still buying in on a Rumsfieldian high tech solution? Any lost of military personnel on a massive scale and a draft would be quickly become mandatory. Milton Friedman aside, a no-draft policy in a time of peace is logical but contingent like tax cuts to future requests.

2/02/2007 7:25 AM  
Blogger wendyo said...

Mayo, that was Curly Howard, not Lou Costello...but I get your point.

2/02/2007 10:32 AM  
Blogger mrs panstreppon said...

I will suggest the ISG called for dialogue with Iran to set up a war with Iran because that is exactly what James A. Baker did in August 2002 on the op-ed page of the NYT when he called for a UN resolution before going to war with Iraq.

In April 2002, Baker was in India negotiating for that country's support for the war. In August 2002, Baker knew war was a foregone conclusion. Never underestimate the cynicism of James A. Baker.

BTW, I am inclined to believe that Baker set up Saddam in 1990. In May 2004 Democracy Now! interview, Joe Wilson referred to a "conciliatory" letter sent by President Bush to Saddam after April Glaspie's famous meeting with him. The contents of the letter have never been made public.

Read today's McClatchey story by Tom Lasseter for an inside look at what is going on in Baghdad and how it got to be that way.

2/02/2007 11:01 AM  
Blogger mrs panstreppon said...

Note to Wendy: Mayo was right. Abbott & Costello's "Niagara Falls" routine is a classic.

2/02/2007 11:17 AM  
Blogger mrs panstreppon said...

Per 2/2/07 WP:

"'The United States is not planning for a war with Iran and instead is trying to stop them from contributing to the violence in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday.

"The President has made clear, the Secretary of State has made clear, I've made clear ... we are not planning for a war with Iran," he told reporters...."

We must, therefore, conclude that Secretary Gates does not consider bombing the hell out of Iran to be an act of war. Or we are outsourcing the job to the Israelis.

Me, I'd go with outsourcing the job to the Israelis in a heartbeat. The Israelis have been busy boasting that they will take care of the Iranians if we don't. Let 'em.

I'd like to see just what those big-mouths can do and this way, the US taxpayers will at least get something for all of the billions of dollars in weaponry we have provided to the Israelis.

But, I suppose the the US Air Force will want to bomb Iran to show off how worthwhile those four or five state-of-the-art air bases in Iraq are and demonstrate that the Air force is competent even if the Army isn't.


2/02/2007 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea, let the Israelis light the fuse.

Sounds fine, until the 6th Fleet is engaged. Then all bets are off.

A military engagement with Iran will escalate more rapidly than anyone dare imagine. The consequences of such profound miscalculations will come back to us in flight after flight of flag draped cargo: our dead sons, daughters, dads and moms.

2/02/2007 1:47 PM  
Blogger mrs panstreppon said...

I agree. Would-be Mrs CiC is shooting her big fat mouth off today about how she would end the war if she was elected president. This is the same Hillary Clinton who believes that Iran poses the biggest threat in the world to the US. If she won't take bombing Iran off the table (which she hasn't to date), she can't guarantee an end to the war.

2/02/2007 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This week's report that we have been training and supplying with weaponry al Sadr's militia is "untimely".

2/02/2007 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2/02/2007 7:36 PM  
Blogger wendyo said...

mrs. panstreppon, we're both correct:

back to your scheduled thread about this fucked up war. ;-)

2/02/2007 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Janet in Oakland, CA said...

We started the Mexican War in 1846 by the simple expedient of sending soldiers into disputed territory to cause a fight (and get killed), and then claiming that Mexico had "shed American blood on American soil". We then invaded.

2/03/2007 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about what would be the best solution to the conundrum we created.

There is no perfect solution. Therefore, we must seek the solution that ultimately saves the most lives, U.S. soldiers and civilian populations combined. That is the only ethical solution. I suggest a peace conference that includes all the countries in the Middle East. We should at best be a moderator.

2/03/2007 11:46 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Why leave out the first Gulf War?
The incubator story(lie)...Iraqi troops massing on the border with Saudi Arabia(lie). One of the reasons Ross Perot was labeled crazy, by our propaganda corporations we call the media, was he dared to suggest that our government would lie to us about such important things like war making. He dared to bring up April Gilespie's meeting with Saddam in which she told him...
“We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”

The rumor mill states that April Glaspie who retired in 2002 will not do interviews on the subject because the state department has placed a gag order on her.

Me...Americans are becoming less and less trustful. It will probably be too late for them to do anything to protect themselves...but Rod Dreher's mea culpa gives hope that not all are unreachable.

From conservative author Rod Dreher, of National Review and the Dallas Morning News, on a broadcast essay at NPR:
"As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.
"But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool....
"The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me....
"I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.
"I did not expect Vietnam.
"As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.
"I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority."

2/03/2007 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have people forgotten the war games about five years ago, in which a navy-assisted attack on Iran was carried out? The American general in charge of the "Iranian" side completely bollixed up the operation by sending waves of very cheap, but deadly speedboats filled with HE against the destroyers and carriers (a la USS Cole). So the commanding officers changed the rules so that he couldn't employ that (and other cheap and inventive tactics) and victory was declared.

If I can read and remember that, don't you think the Iranians have? I'll bet the rules-changers haven't thought of that. Honestly, if the carrier groups currently converging on the Persian Gulf do attack Iran, the resulting one-day death toll of American servicepeople will exceed the three-year total in Iraq.

And the political and economic repercussions . . . Argh!

2/04/2007 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when brzy speaks,must listen...he's the man...the greatest strategist of recent times...

2/04/2007 9:26 PM  
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