These days we're on needles and pins. We keep our fingers crossed. We hope the US won't attack Iran. There are good reasons to believe it won't. Elsewhere I've argued the folly of doing so.
Cheney and Bush, no doubt, have heard such reasons and yet still itch to attack. They've got the aircraft carriers and Cruise missiles in place. They keep poking Iran hoping to get an overreaction. They keep saber-rattling.
Why, we all wonder, would they replay the same -- or even greater -- debacle as in Iraq? Many readers may be too humane to fathom what goes on in those men's minds. Sociopaths are hard to understand. Nonetheless we must try.
Who knows? Part of Cheney and Bush's crusade may be theological. Isn't it god-like to unleash the Predators? Isn't it god-like to threaten and surge, kill and explode? Islamic Iraq and Islamic Afghanistan may seem to those men like latter-day Sodoms and Gomorrahs. Having smote them, let Islamic Iran be next.
Besides, having failed to force Iraq and Afghanistan to submit, they may well crave another chance. They certainly seek to shore up their faltered administration. They've seen how a new war distracts from scandals in high places. And how it distracts from policy disasters, both domestic and international. A new war puffs up otherwise plummeting presidential and vice presidential polls. Our cowed and co-opted Congress rolls over during war. War pumps up executive power.
But for much of the power structure backing Cheney and Bush, it's economics that rule. The anti-Iran orchestra has all the might and momentum of the Imperium. The US -- with its proxies and puppets, its air, land and sea forces, its Delta and Special forces -- now occupies not only Iraq but much of the Middle East.
The threatened attack is bigger than Cheney and Bush. The US is engaged in a bi-partisan, multi-administration, region-wide resource war. The US oiligarchy covets the region's (including Iran's) vast energy reserves. [See Michael T. Klare's, "Blood and Oil" (2004)]. Reinforcing that imperial thieving are other, subsidiary greeds, other hungers for power.
Demonizing Iran is an old trick. It does what demonizing the Soviet Union did decades ago: it pumps up the jingo mindset. It pumps up military budgets. Military spending draws down domestic spending -- a key right-wing agenda.
Attacking Iran keeps the pot boiling. It perpetuates the phony war on terror. More war provides more enemies and so more pretext to erode civil liberties. Unscrupulous politicians and certain corporations thrive when fear keeps people dumb and dazed. With another invasion the Halliburtons and Blackwaters get to lap up more contracts.
Realpolitik demands we crush our rivals. Despite its intense resistance, militarily Iraq is broken -- in the Middle East that just leaves Iran. Going after Iran would further align our power structure to Israel's military machine and to its allies here in the US. Neutralizing Iran would further strangle those pesky Palestinians.
But note: It's delusory to think that attacking Iran will just be a spasm of quick, "surgical" air strikes. Wars morph; violence bounces. Violating Iran will generate enormous blowback, both in the region and here in the US. This country will polarize. Widespread dissent or "terrorist" retaliation -- contrived or otherwise -- might lead to martial law.
Surely the think tankers have explored the martial law card and have worked out every last detail of implementation. The plans are right there on the shelf. Martial law could provide the pretext for postponing the November election. Far fetched? Does the gang in Washington act as if it's ready to bow out? Can it really allow subpoena power and indictment power to fall into unfriendly hands?
Now, if elections do go forward and we're bogged down with Iran, McCain -- marketed as the tough, commander-in-chief type -- will be more likely to win this otherwise uphill vote. But even if Obama wins, at least his White House years might be hamstrung cleaning up one vast mess. An Iran war begun before either the election or inauguration would, conveniently, derail any partisan domestic agenda he and a Democrat-controlled Congress may have.
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If you've read this far, go with me a little further. Consider this back room scenario. Sometime late this summer Cheney and Bush's people offer the Obama camp a deal: "Have your new attorney general drop any Iraq war crime charges and we won't drop the bombs...."
Kinane visited Iran in 2007. Reach him at email@example.com.