Unlike a couple years ago, when the consensus was split, there recently seems to be a growing consensus among pundits and certain politicians that Washington will be launching a military attack on Iran. While pundits do not have the power to make war, politicians in Congress certainly do. Furthermore, pundits convinced that this is an advisable route will do their best to bend the ears of those politicians so that there wishes can be filled, especially if those pundits are representing interests that believe they would benefit from such an attack.
Why now? Part of the reason is because the majority of US troops are out of Iraq, thereby leaving a minimal number of American soldiers available for Iranian retaliation. A related reason could be the loss of prestige to Washington with the withdrawal of those troops. It’s not like Washington won its war in Iraq; it’s more like it was a stalemate with Tehran still holding on to a couple key cards. Israel, with an element of its ruling elites always ready to attack any perceived enemy, is of course a constant element in the drive to destroy Iran, as are the ruling families of certain Arab Gulf states that compete with Tehran in the oil market. Iran’s alleged support for various resistance movements in the Middle East and Asia provides Israel with but one more reason to call for war, especially since those resistance movements are primarily opposed to Israel’s expansionist anti-Palestinian policies.
For those warmongering pundits who haven’t yet quite jumped on the bandwagon for either an Israeli or joint US-Israeli attack comes an article in the January/February 2012 Foreign Affairs, a policy journal written by and for the US elites. The piece, written by Council of Foreign Relations member and Georgetown professor Matthew Kroenig, is titled “Time to Attack Iran.” While the title of the article leaves nothing to the imagination, Kroenig’s long-winded piece utilizes an almost Jesuitical argument as to why the United States should attack Iran now. Briefly put, the argument goes like this. Since it is clear that Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons and Israel is intent on preventing that, it would be best if the United States military launched a limited attack on Iran’s nuclear-related facilities before Israel does and starts a war with much greater consequences. After all, continues Kroenig, Washington’s forces are sophisticated enough to limit civilian casualties and take out the necessary targets. Furthermore, any retaliation would be limited, suggests Kroenig, because most of what Tehran says regarding retaliation is bluster. If some US troops die, that risk is worth it. After all, for men like Kroenig a nuclear Iran is too great of a threat to US national security, human lives be damned.
Let me briefly address this piece of idiocy. First, Kroenig does not provide any proof for his supposition that Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons. Instead, he accepts the common presentation of IAEA reports made in the Western press, a presentation that has been shown time and time again to be a misrepresentation of the facts in those reports. Naturally, that misrepresentation suggests that Iran is ready to go live at any time with a nuclear weapon and wants to do so. Second, Kroenig easily dismisses the possibility of Iranian retaliation. From the comfort of his office at Georgetown University he makes the statement that Washington could tell Iran certain acts would be subject to massive retaliation, while others like “token missile strikes against U.S. bases and ships in the region” would be acceptable. It’s as if Mr. Kroenig was talking about a game of World of Warcraft instead of an action that might start World War Three.
It is not time to attack Iran. It is time to back away from the insanity expressed in the recent GOP debates about the need to attack Iran. It is also time to end the nonsense put forth by men and women like Mr. Kroenig. Their use of neutral and technical language to demand an attack on Iran or any other nation is more reprehensible than the demagoguery of Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. When I read the ramblings of technocrats like Mr. Kroenig, I can not help but be reminded of Adolf Eichmann and his office as they sent memos back and forth discussing the destruction of the European Jews. The language those men used was bureaucratic and neutral. The results were anything but.
Washington does not like the government in Tehran. The reasons for this are many, but the primary one is simple. Tehran opposes Washington’s designs for the region. It also opposes Tel Aviv’s. Washington aligns itself with Tel Aviv no matter what it does. Until Washington alters its “special relationship” with Tel Aviv so that other interests in the region are considered in a fair manner, Iran’s presence will always be a threat to Washington’s interests. As has been written many times over, Tehran has good reason not to trust the words and motivations of the United States. The last sixty years of history between the two nations is one that includes a CIA coup against a popular government; years of support to an autocratic and despotic regime whose secret police tortured and killed unknown numbers of opposition members; a secret deal between some of the most reactionary elements of the post-1979 Iranian revolutionary government and the Reagan administration that helped destroy the democratic socialist and secular elements of the revolution; and a series of attacks on Iranian ships, civilian aircraft and, most recently, its scientists.
Once again, it is not time to attack Iran. Opposing war and sanctions on that country is not equivalent to supporting the Tehran government. However, it does mean demanding that Washington to stop edging towards war on Iran, end the sanctions and do everything in its power (including suspending ALL aid and loans to Tel Aviv) to prevent Israel from launching an attack. If nuclear weapons really are the issue, then it would seem that it is time for all parties in the Mideast to begin unconditional talks establishing a nuclear free zone. It is certainly not the time to begin a war that will only convince more nations that nuclear arms are the only way they can ensure their continued existence. We must step back from the precipice.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His collection of essays and other musings titled Tripping Through the American Night is now available and his new novel is The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com.