July 03, 2006

Our Date with Armageddon

For background, I suggest you read this post about Sy Hersh's latest article concerning the Bush administration's plans to attack Iran, and this entry about the irrelevance of intelligence when it comes to major policy decisions -- such as the decision to launch a war of aggression against a nation that does not threaten us, a war that almost inevitably would rapidly become a widespread regional conflict, and possibly something infinitely worse.

And then consider the absolutely phony sense of urgency conveyed by this news story:
BRUSSELS, June 30 (Reuters) - The United States rejected on Friday Iranian calls for more time to study an offer of incentives to curb its nuclear fuel programme, insisting Tehran must respond by a G8 deadline next week.

The Group of Eight industrialised nations told Iran on Thursday they wanted a "clear and substantive response" on July 5 to an offer of incentives to stop enriching uranium. But two Iranian officials immediately declared more time was needed.

A Western diplomat familiar with the issue said the Islamic Republic was unlikely to give a firm answer but that if one did not arrive by July 12, when major power foreign ministers next meet, U.N. Security Council action would loom.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns insisted the offer was "very straightforward" and Iran's chief negotiator Ali Larijani should respond as requested at a slated July 5 meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

"There will be a meeting here in this city next week, where we expect and hope that Larijani will give us an answer ... This is not a complicated offer," Burns said in Brussels.

"It is now high time, frankly, that we had a response from the Iranian government ... We always said this was a process of weeks not months," he told a news briefing.


Burns reiterated that the precondition for Iran receiving any support in building a civilian nuclear programme was that it stops enriching uranium -- something Iran, which has the world's second largest oil and gas reserves, has refused to do so far.

Western powers suspect Tehran has a secret programme to build nuclear weapons. Iran says it wants only to enrich uranium to a level suitable for use in generating electricity.
Let's summarize the key points of where we are:

1. As Hersh points out and has been obvious since it began, this latest effort at diplomacy directed by the U.S. is designed to fail. We are demanding that the Iranians concede the major point in dispute -- Iran's right to enrich uranium -- before the negotiations even begin. This isn't diplomacy. This is issuing an ultimatum: "You will do exactly as we say -- or else."

2. No one could legitimately expect this diplomacy to succeed, so what's the point? The point is precisely the same one achieved by the U.S.'s phony dance with the U.N. in the leadup to the Iraq invasion: to provide cover for a decision that has already been made. When the U.S. begins bombing Iran, Bush will say: "We tried diplomacy. No one wants war, which is always the last resort. But they refused to engage in diplomacy, so they left us no choice. After 9/11, we cannot permit threats to our country to grow unchecked. I will not allow the American people to be attacked again. An Iran with nuclear weapons was too great a danger, and it had to be stopped." At that point, as devastation begins to spread through the Middle East and Iraq explodes into even greater violence, no one will remember that we made it impossible for Iran to engage with us diplomatically, and that Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons and won't have any for at least five to 10 years -- and our media will never remind us of what actually happened.

3. Consider the unreality of what's happening here. Iran is fully entitled to pursue the non-military enrichment of uranium under the terms of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty -- to which it is a signatory. We make exceptions and give enormously valuable aid to countries like India that are not signatories to the treaty -- while we demand that Iran give up rights it indisputably has under the same treaty. Given the stakes involved, it doesn't even begin to capture the madness involved in this approach to describe it as incoherent and self-contradictory. As we stand on the brink of a military catastrophe -- one that we will have begun for no reason at all -- this is simply insane.

4. The overall pattern at work here is exactly the same one utilized for Iraq: phony diplomacy, then U.N. action which will similarly make compliance by Iran impossible, then a few speeches accusing Iran of defying the will of the "civilized world" and of being too great a threat to be tolerated -- and then the bombing. And almost no one will be heard to say that the "crisis" was created out of thin air, and that in fact no crisis exists at all. As I have pointed out a number of times, all of this is calculated to reach its climax sometime in the fall -- precisely so that it will have the greatest possible impact on the coming elections.

5. Note this sentence in the news story: "Western powers suspect Tehran has a secret programme to build nuclear weapons." As the Hersh article makes clear in detail, no one has any intelligence about Iran's nuclear program at all. Suspicions are all we have -- and they are suspicions based on precisely nothing.

This is as perfect a demonstration as could be asked for on the point I recently emphasized once again: intelligence is entirely irrelevant to major policy decisions. In this case, that must be true for the reason that even we must concede: we have no relevant intelligence of any kind. This is a decision of policy, pure and simple.

Let us state the final conclusion boldly and unmistakably, so we may appreciate its full horror: the Bush administration has already decided, and probably decided some time ago, that it will attack Iran. They want a wider war. Everything that is now going on is simply the cover for the moment when the bombing begins, intended to provide what will be accepted as "justification" for the attack by the American public and the world.

And all of it is a lie from beginning to end.

We must note one additional critical point. Up to this moment, there is not one major public voice identifying this madness for what it is. No one will say that the crisis is a completely phony one. No one will say that an attack on Iran would be completely unjustified and unprovoked, and that it would be a blatant act of aggression by the United States.

There is not even one person offering significant opposition to the Bush administration. Not one. And so we proceed to our date with Armageddon.

If there are any historians who look back on this period in years to come, they will wonder in astonishment at the nation of unthinking, obedient, herdlike animals we have become. We challenge our government on nothing of any importance. Most Americans aren't even aware of what is happening. The lunatics who lead us are taking us straight into incomprehensible catastrophe -- and we say and do absolutely nothing to oppose it.

Do we even deserve to be saved from our own madness at this point, and from our love affair with death and destruction? In the complete absence of significant public opposition to the insanity and unmistakable evil of this administration, I don't know any longer. I honestly don't know.