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Is the Bush Administration Itching to Nuke Iran?

A Crisis Upon Us

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

A number of experts have concluded that despite the Bush administration’s desire to attack Iran, the aggression would be too rash and the consequences too dire even for the irrational Bush administration.

Military experts point out that at a time when generals are calling for more troops for Afghanistan and Iraq, it would be ill-advised for Bush to add Iran to the war theater. Experts note that Iran is well armed with missiles capable of attacking US ships and oil facilities throughout the Middle East and that Iran can direct its Shiite allies in Iraq to assault US troops there and set in motion terrorist actions throughout the Middle East.

Diplomatic experts point out that the US is isolated in its desire for war with Iran and has no ally except Israel, thus validating Muslim claims that the US is Israel’s instrument against Muslims in the Middle East. Experts note that military aggression is a war crime and that US violations of international law isolate the US and destroy the soft power on which US leadership has been based. An attack on Iran could be the last straw for Muslims chaffing under the rule of US puppet governments in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Economic experts point out that the impact on the price of oil would be severe and the economic consequences detrimental. With the US housing bubble deflating, now is not the time for an oil shock.

It is difficult to take exception to this expert analysis. Nevertheless, the Bush administration continues to send war signals. Credible news organizations have reported that US naval attack groups have been given "prepare to deploy orders" that would put them on station off Iran by October 21.

How can Bush administration war plans be reconciled with expert opinion that the consequences would be too dire for the US?

Perhaps the answer is that what appears as irrationality to experts is rationality to neoconservatives. Neocons seek maximum chaos and instability in the Middle East in order to justify long-term US occupation of the region. Following this line of thought, neocons would regard the loss of a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf as a way to solidify public support for the war. US public anger at the Iranians could even result in US public support for a military draft in order to win "the war on terror."

The Bush administration could bring Congress around by announcing a "Gulf of Tonkin" incident or by orchestrating a "terrorist attack." However, this is unnecessary as Bush has prepared the ground for bypassing Congress with his propagandistic allegations that Iran, by arming Iraqi insurgents, sponsoring terrorism, and building nuclear weapons, is the major part of the ongoing "war against terrorism." Now that Iran is blamed for rising violence in Iraq, an attack on Iran follows as a matter of course. All Bush has to do is to continue with his lies in order to bring the American public to a new war hysteria.

Bush’s attorney general has demonstrated that he has no qualms about validating any and all extra-legal powers that the White House requires for violating the US Constitution and international law. The congressional attempts to block illegal wiretapping and torture have failed. The Senate has refused to authorize torture, but the Senate has not prevented the administration from torturing detainees. The compromise leaves it to the White House to decide whether its interrogation practices are objectionable. In an editorial (September 22, 2006), the Washington Post concluded that "the abuse can continue."

Polls show that Bush administration propaganda has convinced a majority of inattentive Americans that Iran is making nuclear weapons. Polls show that a majority support an attack on Iran under this circumstance. The neoconservatives and their media allies have succeeded in causing the public to confuse Iran’s legal nuclear energy program with a weapons program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors pour over Iran’s nuclear energy program for signs of a weapons program, recently denounced a House Intelligence Committee report as "outrageous and dishonest." Written by the Republican neocon staff, the Republican report falsely alleges that Iran had enriched uranium to weapons grade last April and that the IAEA had removed a senior safeguards inspector to keep the alleged breach of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Pact secret.

Once again neoconservatives have shown that they will tell any and every lie to achieve their goal of attacking Iran. Jingoistic anti-UN Bush supporters will automatically believe the neocon lie and will swallow right-wing talk radio claims that the UN is protecting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. As we learned from the Iraq hysteria, facts and experts are no impediment to the Bush administration’s lies.

Rumsfeld’s neocon Pentagon has rewritten US war doctrine to permit preemptive nuclear attack on non-nuclear countries. As the US paid a huge public relations cost in terms of world opinion and distrust of the US by endorsing the first use of nuclear weapons, the revision of US war doctrine must have a purpose.

Neocons claim that tactical nuclear weapons are necessary to destroy Iran’s underground facilities. However, the real reason for using nukes against Iran is to intimidate Iran from retaliating and to threaten the entire Muslim world with genocide unless Muslims bend to the neocons’ will and accept US hegemony over their part of the world.

In his speech to the United Nations, Hugo Chavez might not have been too deep into hyperbole when he described Bush as an example of demonic evil.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com