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 Day 19

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Troop Escalation and Iran

Distracting Congress from the Real War Plan

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Is the surge an orchestrated distraction from the real war plan?

A good case can be made that it is. The US Congress and media are focused on President Bush’s proposal for an increase of 20,000 US troops in Iraq, while Israel and its American neoconservative allies prepare an assault on Iran.

Commentators have expressed puzzlement over President Bush’s appointment of a US Navy admiral as commander in charge of the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The appointment makes sense only if the administration’s attention has shifted from the insurgencies to an attack on Iran.

The Bush administration has recently doubled its aircraft carrier forces and air power in the Persian Gulf. According to credible news reports, the Israeli air force has been making practice runs in preparation for an attack on Iran.

Recently, Israeli military and political leaders have described Israeli machinations to manipulate the American public and their representatives into supporting or joining an Israeli assault on Iran.

Two US carrier task forces or strike groups will certainly congest the Persian Gulf. On January 9 a US nuclear sub collided with a Japanese tanker in the Persian Gulf. Two carrier groups will have scant room for maneuver. Their purpose is either to provide the means for a hard hit on Iran or to serve as sitting ducks for a new Pearl Harbor that would rally Americans behind the new war.

Whether our ships are hit by Iran in retaliation to an attack from Israel or suffer an orchestrated attack by Israel that is blamed on the Iranians, there are certainly far more US naval forces in the Persian Gulf than prudence demands.

Bush’s proposed surge appears to have no real military purpose. The US military opposes it as militarily pointless and as damaging to the US Army and Marine Corps. The surge can only be accomplished by keeping troops deployed after the arrival of their replacements.
Moreover, the increase in numbers that can be achieved in this way are far short of the numbers required to put down the insurgency and civil war.

The only purpose of the surge is to distract Congress while plans are implemented to widen the war.

Weapons inspectors have failed to find a nuclear weapons program in Iran. Most experts say it would be years before Iran could make a weapon even if the Iranian government is actively working on a weapons program. Since the danger, if any, is years away, why is Israel so determined to attack Iran now?

The answer might be that Israel has the chance now. The Bush administration is in its pocket. The White House is working with neoconservatives, not with the American foreign policy community represented by the Iraq Study Group. Neoconservative propagandists are in influential positions in the media. The US Congress is intimidated by AIPAC. The correlation of forces are heavily in Israel’s favor.

Part of the Israeli/neoconservative plan has already been achieved with the destruction of civilian infrastructure and spread of sectarian strife in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. If Iran can be taken out with a powerful air attack that might involve nuclear weapons, Syria would be isolated and Hezbollah would be cut off from Iranian supplies.

Israel has two years remaining to use its American resources to achieve its aims in the Middle East. How influential will Israel and the neoconservatives be with the next president in the wake of a US defeat in Iraq and Israeli defeat in Lebanaon? If the US withdraws its troops from Iraq, as the US military and foreign policy community recommend and as polls show the American public wants, the only effect of Bush’s Iraq invasion will have been to radicalize Muslims against Israel, the US, and US puppet governments in the Middle East. Extremist elements will tout their victory over the US, and the pressures on Israel to accept a realistic accommodation with Palestinians will be over-powering.

Now is the chance–the only chance–for Israel and the neoconservatives to achieve their goal of bringing Muslims to heel, a goal that they have been writing about and working to achieve for a decade.

This goal requires the war to be widened by whatever deceit and treachery necessary to bring the American public along.

The US Congress must immediately refocus its attention from the surge to Iran, the real target of Bush administration aggression.

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