Cheney, Israel and Iran

by GARY LEUPP

"There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy," writes Washington insider Steven C. Clemons on his Washington Note blog. "On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney’s team and acolytes — who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy." This is "worrisome" because the "person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney."

Clemons cites a Cheney aide as indicating "that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake" by supporting the diplomatic approach to Iran apparently favored by the State Department. So Cheney plans to deploy an "end run strategy" around the president (who’s more swayed at present by Condi Rice’s "realists" than Cheney’s neocons) if his flank doesn’t prevail and Bush resists the demand of the neocons and the AIPAC lobby for a bloody showdown.

"The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles This strategycould be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulfas to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war."

This is the most frightening piece I’ve read some time, along with Justin Raimondo’s latest column on antiwar.com that draws upon it. Raimondo citing a recent CNN interview with Seymour Hersh links Cheney and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams (the most powerful neocon presently in the administration) to U.S. support for the Sunni Fatah al Islam militia in Lebanon as a means to weaken Hizbollah. "George W. Bush," he declares, "is totally out of the loop" in what Raimondo calls "the Cheney administration."

These reports have the ring of truth, it seems to me. Bob Woodward citing Colin Powell has documented how Cheney and his neocon gang formed "a separate little government" back in 2002 in order to arrange the assault on Iraq, preceded by a campaign of disinformation which the fool in the Oval Office might well have swallowed eagerly and uncritically. Cheney stated on Don Imus’ MSNBC show in January 2005 that "Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards." He implied that if the U.S. didn’t take action against Iran, the Israelis might have to and be justified in doing so. AIPAC and neocon thinktank advocates of an Iran attack have the sympathetic ear of legislators in both parties. Despite setbacks and what thinking people might see as the thorough discrediting of the neocon faction resulting from the exposure of administration lies, the proponents of the broad neocon plan (the imposition of pro-U.S., Israel-friendly regimes throughout Southwest Asia) remains on track.

Cheney, Clemons states, is frustrated with Bush. Perhaps the mentor-disciple relationship he enjoyed with the younger, trusting, ignorant, impressionable president has waned over time. Perhaps Bush really believed the disinformation items placed on his desk by Douglas Feith, Abram Shulsky and the other Office of Special Plans operatives that have now been so well exposed, and now blames Cheney and his neocons for his embarrassment. Maybe he’s been urged by dear friend Condi to question Cheney’s judgment about Middle East policy. And maybe the most powerful vice-president in U.S. history in response to a cooling relationship is indeed persuing an "end run strategy" to realize the neocon agenda, leaving Bush out of the loop.

It’s been clear for five years at least that Cheney, the key figure in this administration formally headed by a hopelessly confused little boy still learning to talk, wants to get the boy to issue the orders necessary to bring down the Iranian and Syrian governments and crush their allies in Lebanon and Palestine. He and his chief of staff "Scooter" Libby, along with Perle and the whole cabal, seemed so in charge until the Iraqi people through their resistence to occupation caused the American people to realize the costs of imperialist aggression and created some space for critical journalism in an incipiently fascist atmosphere. Now there is indeed a "race underway" not just between two factions of the administration but between the antiwar movement and the Apocalypse Now movement spearheaded by Cheney.
Immediately after 9-11 Cheney spoke of a war to last generations, comparable to the Cold War, a war that wouldn’t be limited to a response to al-Qaeda but have multiple and changing targets. Here’s a man well aware of his mortality, at 66 having suffered four heart attacks, comfortable generating that artificial unprovoked war necessarily building upon ignorance and Islamophobia. He probably feels that if he unleashes total hell on Southwest Asia he will still die comfortably surrounded by his grandchildren. He’s smugly assured he won’t ever face the fate of a Tojo Hideki or a Heinrich Himmler. He’s probably right about that, but he’s surely impeachable, even on the grounds of what Clemons suggests may be "criminal insubordination" against his dumbass boss.

Last month Rep. Dennis Kucinich introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to impeach Cheney, in part because he has "openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran, absent any real threat to the United States, and has done so with the United States’ proven capability to carry out such threats." Don’t these latest reports augment the case against, and underscore the urgency to impeach, this monster?

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

 

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