National Security, Iran and Iraq


On September 19, the American public was presented with a “White House Discussion Draft” of a Resolution authorizing war on Iraq. As one would expect, it plays to the internationalist bent of the multinational media. We are reminded that Congress in 1998 sought to bring Iraq into “compliance” with its “international obligations.” Just as dutifully, we are asked to remember the suffering of the Kurdish people, at least that suffering imposed by the Hussein regime. We are informed that Iraqi military had the gall to fire back when fired upon, “on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.”. This document in many senses plays into the Wilsonian tradition, cloaking a naked grab for resources and power in the bland garb of UN “peacekeeping”, and serviceably rationalizes yet another military adventure overseas.

World peace notwithstanding, the case made in this Resolution offers no actual substantiation of Iraqi ability to directly attack US citizens within US borders. The Discussion Draft claims that “Iraq remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations, thereby continuing to threaten the national security interests of the United States”. National Security is one of the most flexible phrases in the lexicon of the post-Constitutional era, encompassing both U.S. military colonies (“bases”) and oil fields and machinery in scores of countries. Rarely is it used to address actual people living inside our borders, however.

So, instead of producing actual evidence of an attempted Iraqi attack on US territory, the Administration resorts to standard techniques of invective and defamation. Hussein, according to the current President, is “evil” and “hates”. Bush also claims that Stalin is Hussein’s hero. Perhaps while the Iraqis think of ways to flout more UN dicta, Tariq Aziz can call a press conference and make some claims regarding Nazi connections with US Intelligence Services, and then we can cap the whole affair off with a break dance contest.

But I digress. We all know that isn’t how the game is played on this level. The US is even now determining what payoff the Russians require, how many Muslims the Chinese want to exterminate, how much of Iraq Turkey would like to annex in the name of “democracy in the region.” Our masters — it is time we stop calling them our leaders or our representatives — envision a world managed by oil lobbyists, a world order enforced by remote-controlled bombing runs.

Curiously, there may be some outside Iraq who object to this. Intractable, maniacal regimes wanting to work out better terms for their capitulation. Michael Ledeen’s “Iran, Afghanistan, and Us”, a September 9th National Review Online piece that urges war on Iran as soon as possible, addresses the problems posed by those rogues in Tehran.

Ledeen begins the piece with a tacit defense of the assumption that preemptive war is the God-given right of empire, warning darkly of Iranian “doomsday scientists” working feverishly to demonstrate Iranian nuclear capability by the end of the year. If one believes Ledeen, these tests represent “impending threats to our national security.” The tests, coupled with “our whole vision for Afghanistan” being thwarted by assassination attempts on Hamid Karzai by “forces sponsored, organized, and armed by Iran”, justify taking a close look at taking what the kids call preventive action against those radicals in Tehran. In Ledeen’s phrasing, “it is only proper, since Iran is the mother of all modern terrorism, the great engine of terror in the region, and the sworn enemy of the United States.”

Ledeen is a serious man, and his rhetoric is serious to the point of histrionics. A cursory overview of history indicates that Iran has played ball with the US quite often, though not with the predictability of an official client state. We can justly give thanks to Iran for the outcome of the 1980 Presidential election, for example. More recently, Iran’s government has even cooperated in the War on Terror, by supplying a warm body or two with alleged Al Qaeda allegiances.

Michael Ledeen, like Walt Whitman, is not opposed to contradicting himself. Thus it shouldn’t surprise the reader that he espouses contradictions about our knowledge of Iran within the same paragraph. In sequence, Ledeen claims that our intelligence vis-a-vis Iran is “modest”, then goes on to assert that “some of our top officials seem oddly determined not to know what is going on there”. After arguably hinting that elements in the US government harbor an almost treasonous allegiance to Tehran, Ledeen then goes on to make the predictable linkage between the Iranian government and terrorist attacks against Israel (Stopping terrorist attacks against Israel, as we know, was first established by President Chester A. Arthur as a top priority of United States “national security”).

And there’s that phrase again, meaningless yet always with us, beyond the pale of questioning. Yet another third rail, yet another topic beyond the boundaries of acceptable discussion. Another nail in the coffin of our so-called representative democracy. And still, there are those among us who believe the Bush Administration and the rest of the War Party are behaving in good faith.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI, a Spokane, Washington freelance writer, can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com


ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

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