The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the Pentagon has plans for three days of massive air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran. Last week, Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, told a meeting of The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal, that the military did not intend to carry out “pinprick strikes” against Iranian nuclear facilities. He said, “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military.”
Bush has already set the wheels in motion. With Rovian timing, Alberto Gonzales’ resignation was sandwiched between two Bush screeds – one aimed at ensuring Congress scares up $50 billion more for the occupation of Iraq, the other designed to scare us into supporting war on Iran. As Gonzales rides off into the sunset, the significant questions are who will take his place and how that choice will facilitate Bush’s occupation of Iraq and attack on Iran.
One name that’s been floated for Bush’s third attorney general is Joe Lieberman, the “independent” senator from Connecticut. Lieberman, who advocates the use of military force against Iran, was the only person Bush quoted in his August 28 speech to the American Legion. Bush called Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” and pledged to “confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”
Gonzales greased the Bush/Cheney wheels for torturing in violation of the Geneva Conventions, illegally spying on Americans, and purging disloyal Bushies.
Similarly, Lieberman would ensure the Justice Department mounts a vigorous defense of a war of aggression against Iran. And Bush would get a two-fer: Connecticut’s Republican governor would appoint a Republican to fill Lieberman’s seat, returning control of the Senate to the GOP. A Republican-controlled Senate would direct the agenda, thereby furthering the Bush/Cheney plan.
Lieberman is closely affiliated with American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. “AIPAC leverages its power by an alliance with the Christian Right, which has adopted a bizarre ideology of ‘Christian Zionism,'” according to University of Michigan professor Juan Cole. “It holds that the sooner the Palestinians are ethnically cleansed, the sooner Christ will come back. Without millions of these Christian Zionist allies,” Cole added, “AIPAC would be much less influential and effective.”
During the 2004 election, a 100% “AIPAC voting record” was Lieberman’s litmus test for an acceptable presidential candidate. As the House of Representatives was on the verge of passing a resolution that would’ve required Bush to consult Congress before attacking Iran, the AIPAC lobby stopped it in its tracks.
Bush’s WMD-hyping against Iran is déja vu in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Disaster, where he played loose and fast with the truth about Iraq’s alleged WMDs. His statement that a nuclear Iran could put the region “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” conjures up his images of a “mushroom cloud” in the hype-up to Iraq.
How inconvenient for Bush that the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) just found Iran’s uranium enrichment program is operating well below capacity and is nowhere near producing significant amounts of nuclear fuel. The IAEA report says Iran “has been providing the agency with access to declared nuclear materials, and has provided the required nuclear material accountancy reports in connection with declared nuclear material and facilities.”
Iran and IAEA agreed on a plan with a step-by-step timetable of cooperation to settle unresolved issues. The agreement said there were “no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran’s past nuclear program and activities,” and characterized the accord as “a significant step forward.”
“This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence,” said IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei. “I’m clear at this stage you need to give Iran a chance to prove its stated goodwill. Sanctions alone, I know for sure, are not going to lead to a durable solution”
In 2003, when Dr. ElBaradei reported there was no evidence that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, the White House was not pleased. And as Saddam Hussein became more cooperative with the weapons inspector, Bush became “infuriated,” according to Bob Woodward.
Bush’s vow, “We will confront this danger before it is too late,” is the Iran incarnation of his illegal preemptive war doctrine, which he inaugurated in Iraq. In a clear signal he is seeking regime change in Iran, Bush called for “an Iran whose government is accountable to its people, instead of leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.”
Barnett Rubin reported on Global Affairs blog that one of the leading neo-conservative institutions has “instructions” from Dick Cheney’s office to “roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this – they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is ‘plenty.'”
Bush/Cheney created the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) to lead a propaganda campaign to bolster public support for war with Iraq. The White House decided to wait until after Labor Day of 2002 to kick off WHIG’s mission. Chief of staff Andrew Card explained, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” Five years later, they’re marketing a new and even more dangerous product – war with Iran. British military historian Corelli Barnett says “an attack on Iran would effectively launch World War III.”
Our military spending has reached $1 billion every 2-1/2 days and we are borrowing $2-1/2 billion per day. Bush is mortgaging our children’s future security and wealth. We have lost more than 3,700 soldiers in Iraq and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died.
We have already seen how easily Congress caves in to AIPAC. It’s up to the people. As Noam Chomsky said, “The most effective barrier to a White House decision to launch a war [on Iran] is the kind of organized popular opposition that frightened the political-military leadership enough in 1968 that they were reluctant to send more troops to Vietnam.”
MARJORIE COHN is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law.