What Would Have Happened if the "Bomb Iran" Contingent had its Way?
I'm going to leave the debate about whether Iran's election was "stolen" and the domestic implications within Iran to people who actually know what they're talking about (which is a very small subset of the class purporting to possess such knowledge). But there is one point I want to make about the vocal and dramatic expressions of solidarity with Iranians issuing from some quarters in the U.S.
Much of the same faction now claiming such concern for the welfare of The Iranian People are the same people who have long been advocating a military attack on Iran and the dropping of large numbers of bombs on their country -- actions which would result in the slaughter of many of those very same Iranian People. During the presidential campaign, John McCain infamously sang about Bomb, Bomb, Bomb-ing Iran. The Wall St. Journal published a war screed from Commentary's Norman Podhoretz entitled "The Case for Bombing Iran," and following that, Podhoretz said in an interview that he "hopes and prays" that the U.S. "bombs the Iranians." John Bolton and Joe Lieberman advocated the same bombing campaign, while Bill Kristol -- with typical prescience -- hopefully suggested that Bush might bomb Iran if Obama were elected. Rudy Giuliani actually said he would be open to a first-strike nuclear attack on Iran in order to stop their nuclear program.
Imagine how many of the people protesting this week would be dead if any of these bombing advocates had their way -- just as those who paraded around (and still parade around) under the banner of Liberating the Iraqi People caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of them, at least. Hopefully, one of the principal benefits of the turmoil in Iran is that it humanizes whoever the latest Enemy is. Advocating a so-called "attack on Iran" or "bombing Iran" in fact means slaughtering huge numbers of the very same people who are on the streets of Tehran inspiring so many -- obliterating their homes and workplaces, destroying their communities, shattering the infrastructure of their society and their lives. The same is true every time we start mulling the prospect of attacking and bombing another country as though it's some abstract decision in a video game.
After The Wall St. Journal published the Podhoretz war dance demanding that Iran be bombed, and after Podhoretz casually called for England to "bomb the Iranians into smithereens" if their sailors weren't immediately returned, I wrote:
In this week's Newsweek, Michael Hirsh has a worthwhile article reporting on his observations during his visit to Iran. While listing the internally repressive measures taken by the Iranian government, Hirsh describes Tehran as "bustling," as "traffic crowds the streets and boulevards," filled with the "chic" Iranian women and the "meterosexual" Iranian males who seek greater economic security and prosperity. That is what Norm Podhoretz and his friends hungrily want to annihilate.
Matt Yglesias, in a recent post about the administration's "debate" over whether to bomb Iran, wisely included a random photograph of an Iranian street with civilians walking on it. These are the people Norm Podhoretz and his comrades want to slaughter:
Our ability to render invisible the people we kill when cheering on our wars is one of the primary mechanisms which make it so easy to embrace that option.
Perhaps the scenes unfolding in Iran, our Enemy De Jour, will make those dehumanization efforts -- the linchpin of our militarism and state of perpetual war -- more difficult in the future.
© 2009 Salon.com