A New Sensless War

February 12, 2007

George Bush has now indicated with great clarity his intention to ignore all practical reason and that he will attack Iran.

A third carrier taskforce is now steaming to the Persian Gulf. Carrier task forces do nothing to strengthen Baghdad or Al Anbar province. From Bulgaria and Rumania come reports that we have this year established bases in those two countries as staging areas for stealth bombers and attack fighters. A Bulgarian newspaper reports that these are intended for launching attacks against Iran in April of this year. In Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, negotiations are reportedly underway for similar bases. Last spring Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that these plans include the use of nuclear weapons.

This week the administration began parading photos showing that Iranian explosives are killing Americans. The evidence is supposed to prove that it is Iranians, not our own failed policy, causing trouble in Iraq. Media outlets are now supplied lists of violations by Iran in past years of Security Council resolutions. Just as before the invasion of Iraq, these documents lay the foundation for CNN and Fox News to proclaim outrage and rail against Iran as a “threat.”

Ever since the arrival of Henry Kissinger in the Nixon administration 30 years ago, followed in succession by disciples of the so-called “Chicago School,” led by Leo Strauss who was an émigré from Nazi Germany, a gradually increasing circle of advisers to Republican presidents has begun to advocate that in an unstable world the remedy is military power. That is to say that our strength does not come from respect for the working poor, or the huddled masses, or civil rights, or for our reputation for generosity. To the contrary, the illusion is that our strength is measured in warships and nuclear weapons.

Henry Kissinger in his early years authored a book on world politics entitled “A World Restored.” In this volume he did not celebrate Lincoln or Jefferson or even Woodrow Wilson. Rather, he celebrated the doctrine that kings and ministers must do what they must do, including lying and deception in order to retain power. Power, for Kissinger, was its own justification. This was not his view alone. It was a particularly European view. Until Kissinger, however, it was not an American view.

Following Kissinger came such advocates of raw power as Douglas Feith, recently in the news accused of doctoring the intelligence for the Iraq war, and Paul Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq war. It is consistent that this country will now be taken into war with Iran with whatever excuse is available. No amount of public protest, no democratic congress, is apt to deter Mr. Bush who, on February 14th and in response to a question about attacking Iran, proclaimed, almost belligerently, that he will do “what he has to do protect our troops.”

Those are the new code words, and the excuse this time will be that simple. It is all quite clearly on a schedule that has already been developed and has been in preparation since the “Axis of Evil” speech in 2002. When the president protests that he does not have such schedule he is sounding exactly as he sounded in March, 2003, when he told the nation 11 times in one press conference that he hoped and wished and prayed for peace. He went to war two weeks later.

If foreign policy were governed by American common sense, there is no way we would now brand Iran as a threat and start a third war. But this is not practical thinking; this is ideological thinking. This is thinking, say the neo-cons, according to the ancient instructions of great minds like Plato and Machiavelli. This thinking runs parallel to and feeds into the ideological religious doctrine of the president, who tells us he is getting his instructions from the Bible, and therefore, again, such instructions need not be practical.

If the Bulgarians are right, look for war with Iran in April. It will come contrary to every ounce of common sense, fabricated with the same sort of trumpery that took us into Iraq in 2003. The excuses will be blossoming on the front pages these next few weeks. But never doubt that they are excuses. This war has been in the planning since this administration came to power. It is practical nonsense. But it is the politics of empire and today that is the politics that guides America’s benighted president.