The U.S. government appears to be caught in a vicious cycle of its own making. It can still be stopped, but before long that option will have disappeared like a city in a cloud of nuclear dust.
A look at the facts is all that is required to see this situation. In 2003, President Bush invaded Iraq, claiming that that country had weapons of mass destruction, was close to developing nuclear weapons and therefore presented an ‘imminent threat’ to the United States. Against the advice of trusted allies, the United Nation and millions of Americans, Mr. Bush, from the safety of the White House, sent tens of thousands of dedicated soldiers to kill and die in Iraq. Apparently, but not surely, to Mr. Bush’s surprise, there were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear devices being prepared and therefore no threat to the United States. Iraq was left in a state of civil war, its infrastructure destroyed and its people suffering worse than they ever did under the now-deposed Saddam Hussein. Terrorist activity in and from that nation has skyrocketed. And the war continues.
Now Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others are all accusing Iran of developing nuclear weapons. Mr. Bush has even gone so far as to propose defense systems be installed in eastern European countries, much to the entirely-justifiable consternation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Putin stated that it appears as if Mr. Bush is attempting to resurrect the Cold War, that nearly fifty-year period during which the U.S. and the Soviet Union were engaged in fierce competition to outdo each other in weapons and public relations. It took the courage and foresight of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to take the lead in ending this dangerous period during and following a summit with President Ronald Reagan.
Congress, complicit in all of Mr. Bush’s crimes to date, seems to once again be an all-to-willing accomplice. From declaring Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization to stepping up the rhetoric on Iran in general, there seems to be little need for additional evidence that either the members of Congress are incapable of learning from their past mistakes, or fear appearing ‘soft’ on terrorism. So the U.S. marches almost inevitably off to war with Iran.
What must Iran’s response be to these actions? After having witnessed the carnage reaped by the U.S. on their neighbor, Iraq, would one expect Iran to wait around to experience the same fate? Or might one reasonably expect that Iran would increase its weapons production, including either starting or accelerating a nuclear program, in order to protect its 70,000,000 citizens? As Iran does so, the U.S. points its self-righteous finger at it and says “See? We told you so!” And Congress’s lemming-like members can all agree. “You see,” they may say, “we were wrong about Iraq, but we were right about Iran. Don’t go calling us soft on terror.”
So what is wrong with this picture? One can consider another, far less likely scenario. Mr. Bush blathers away about Iran (one cannot expect him to stop), but cooler heads prevail in Congress. There is no resolution naming the Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Talk by Mr. Bush of defense missiles based in Europe are given scant attention by the Congress that must fund them; they are dismissed as the simple ramblings of a desperate, lame-duck president. Mr. Putin, at first alarmed by Mr. Bush’s statements, recognizes that his proposals have no support in Congress, and makes a passing remark that Mr. Bush should somehow bring himself into the twenty-first century, and comments no more on the matter.
With the U.S. busy with the civil war in Iraq, and Mr. Bush alone ranting and raving about Iran with no one of any consequence listening, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can worry about the economic and other concerns of his people without needing to worry about being the next target of violent U.S. imperialism. He has no need to take a defensive posture against the U.S. because the U.S. is not harassing him in any way.
So there is no spiral, because there is nothing to give it impetus. Unfortunately, this scenario is a fairy tale.
In its most basic form, the following appears to be what is happening:
Iraq is in civil war, its people dying by the hundreds of thousands, all caused by the U.S. invasion and continually worsened by U.S. presence.
Mr. Bush proclaims that Iran is now a threat to the U.S.
Iran, seeing what happened to Iraq, prepares to defend its people.
Mr. Bush sees Iran’s preparations, and claims he was right all along, and that Iran is a threat to the U.S., and proposes missile sites in Eastern Europe.
Mr. Putin, having watched the increasingly dangerous Mr. Bush for years, says his lunacy has gone far enough, and opposes the missile sites.
Mr. Ahmandinejad watches the increasing tension between his ally, Russia, and his enemy (and Russia’s ally), the U.S., and accelerates his measures to protect Iran.
Mr. Bush sees Iran’s increased efforts, frequently in the form of support for Iraq’s freedom fighters, and issues sanctions against Iran.
Iran suffers as a result of these sanctions, and takes additional steps to prepare for war.
Mr. Bush can now proclaim that Iran is preparing for war.
Ms. Rice stated this week that Iran poses “perhaps the single greatest challenge” to U.S. security. She further stated, if you please, that the U.S. wanted to resolve this crisis, one of the U.S.’s making, through diplomatic means. Why she wasn’t making such commitments four and a half years ago is anybody’s guess. But she kept the war-mongering rhetoric high. Said she: “If they (Iran) choose to continue down a path of confrontation, the U.S. will act with the international community to resist these threats of the Iranian regime.”
It appears that it is the U.S. that is continuing ‘down a path of confrontation,’ and one can hardly expect the ‘international community’ to provide much more support to Mr. Bush’s invasion of Iran than it did his invasion of Iraq. Indeed, many nations who bought into that earlier folly may be difficult to persuade to follow the U.S. down that dead end road again.
But it appears increasingly likely that Congress will not hesitate to buy the same farm it purchased lock, stock and barrel five years ago. In order to protect U.S. interests from the next imaginary threat, more Americans will die, and another country in the Middle East will be reduced to ashes. If at least 1,000,000 of Iraq’s 25,000,000 citizens have died since Mr. Bush’s invasion, how many of the 70,000,000 Iranians will experience horrific deaths long before their time? Congress can stop this from happening, but there is nothing to suggest that the members of that august body, elected to end the Iraqi war, will prevent the next one from occurring. Mr. Bush, when he leaves office in January of 2009, will leave behind a bloody legacy, and three disastrous wars. The consequences for the U.S. and the world are beyond comprehension.
ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.‘