Every horror movie has that "Oh Shit!" moment, when the hero or heroes are huddled in some creepy hideout, and suddenly something happens that tells you that the monster is just around the corner, or just about to attack. In "Jurassic Park" it was the pulsing ripples in a cup of water, heralding the arrival of a T-Rex. In "Jaws" it was the deep bass music, letting you know that a monstrous shark was about to attack.
Well, we just got our "Oh Shit!" moment with the just-announced resignation of Admiral William J. Fallon, the military commander of US Middle East operations.
Adm. Fallon, 63, famously said that an attack on Iran would not happen "on my watch," and is widely believed to have already threatened, along with a number of other top generals and admirals, to quit the service if the Bush administration were to launch an air attack on Iran.
Put the pieces together. We know that the vice president is obsessed with a desire to attack Iran, and has been since before he even took office. Bush has repeatedly stressed that Iran cannot be permitted to continue with its nuclear processing (he calls it their "nukular" bomb program, though there is no evidence that the country has a nuclear bomb development program, and in fact the last National Intelligence Estimate on Iran said there was not and hadn't been since 2003). And Fallon has now quit.
The Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier battle group is in place there, and loaded to the brim with strike aircraft, Tomahawk missiles, and even nuclear weapons. It was long ago reported that air bases with aerial tankers had been put in place in Central Asia north of Iran, ready to refuel B-2 stealth bombers flown from the US or Diego Garcia islans in the Indian Ocean.
All the elements, that is to say, are being assembled for a massive air assault on Iranian targets, designed to destroy its nuclear program, cripple its military command and control, and--at least this is a stated Cheney goal-- to lead to the overthrow of the Iranian government by its own people.
It is, of course, the strategy of madmen.
The US has no forces to send into Iran. All they can do is bomb it. And bombing a country doesn't lead its people to rise up. It leads them to rally 'round the flag. Especially when the civilian casualties of our not-so-"smart" bombs start to soar.
If such an attack were to happen, we can kiss goodbye to six years of domestic peace, such as we've had. The Iranians have considerable capability to inflict damage on US targets of interest, both overseas and here in the domestic US using assymetrical warfare techniques. The worse part is, they'd be completely justified in doing so, since any attack on them would be a crime against peace--the gravest of all international crimes.
American troops already mired and pinned down in a war in Iraq, would find themselves suddenly under attack by Shia forces there, who for several years now have been largely leaving them alone.
And oil, which just bumped up against $110 a barrel, an all-time record, will double in price overnight, as the whole Persian Gulf becomes a war zone.
We can expect massive launches of small boats armed with missiles and torpedoes, as well as sophisticated anti-ship missiles from shore batteries, all fired at US ships in the Gulf, and it would be astounding if some or even many vessels of the US fleet weren't sunk.
Meanwhile, tanker traffic in the Gulf, which accounts for 20% or more of the world's oil, will cease as insurance rates for those vessels go through the roof.
The monster of war will be unleashed, and will not easily be defeated. That's why Adm. Fallon was so opposed to the whole idea. He knows that it will be a disaster for the US militarily, economically and politically.
The worst part is that Cheney knows this, too. He just doesn't care. This is the man's parting shot as he leaves office-- to put the country into the throes of a war so vicious that no one will think of pursuing him for his long list of crimes against the nation and the Constitution.
He is guessing--and he may be right--that the American public will, sheep-like as always, rally to the cause, with a new round of yellow magnet "ribbons" on their cars. He is hoping--and he may be right--that war will be a boon for the candidacy of Republican John McCain and for embattled Republicans running for Congress.
It's a kind of political Hail Mary.
Oh Shit! Here it comes!
Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now in paperback). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net