October 30, 2006

Final Act

By way of confirmation of my argument about the irrelevance and insignificance of the impending election, William Lind tells us about the possible arrival of the final act of the calamitous Bush administration:
The third and final act in the national tragedy that is the Bush administration may soon play itself out. The Okhrana reports increasing indications of "something big" happening between the election and Christmas. That could be the long-planned attack on Iran.

An attack on Iran will not be an invasion with ground troops. We don't have enough of those left to invade Ruritania. It will be a "package" of air and missile strikes, by U.S. forces or Israel. If Israel does it, there is a possibility of nuclear weapons being employed. But Israel would prefer the U.S. to do the dirty work, and what Israel wants, Israel usually gets, at least in Washington.


The Democrats taking either or both Houses of Congress, if it happens, will not make any difference. They would rather have the Republicans start and lose another war than prevent a national disaster. Politics comes first and the country second. Nor would they dare cross Israel.

Many of the consequences of a war with Iran are easy to imagine. Oil would soar to at least $200 per barrel if we could get it. Gas shortages would bring back the gas lines of 1973 and 1979. Our European alliances would be stretched to the breaking point if not beyond it. Most people outside the Bushbubble can see all this coming.

What I fear no one foresees is a substantial danger that we could lose the army now deployed in Iraq. I have mentioned this in previous columns, but I want to go into it here in more detail because the scenario may soon go live.

Well before the second Iraq war started, I warned in a piece in The American Conservative that the structure of our position in Iraq could lead to that greatest of military disasters, encirclement. That is precisely the danger if we go to war with Iran.
The rest of Lind's column explains how this would happen -- and why our vaunted "greatest military in all of history" can, indeed, be defeated: "Unbeatable militaries are like unsinkable ships. They are unsinkable until someone or something sinks them."

Lind's piece caused a connection to fall into place for me, one I hadn't seen clearly before. Many people have remarked upon the seeming equanimity with which Bush, Rove, and the other members of their criminal gang contemplate the possible loss of both the House and Senate. And I've indicated why the Democrats will pose no serious threat to the Bush administration in any event, not with regard to the most important issues.

But, as I've stated before, I think the Bush administration decided some time ago that they would attack Iran before Bush leaves office. Reading Lind's remarks about the possible imminence of that attack made me realize what I'm sure Cheney and Rove have understood very well for quite a while. In the chaos and hysteria that would follow an attack on Iran, with violence possibly spreading rapidly throughout the Middle East (and even beyond), everything else will go by the boards. The media will obediently fan the flames of patriotism and fear, and no one will be able to speak of anything else. Every other topic -- the Military Commissions Act, torture, corruption -- will be swept from the scene. It will be All Iran, All the Time, with related discussions of Iraq and the broader Middle East as events warrant. But Iran will be the primary focus, and the key.

The Democrats have been just as guilty as the Bush administration of grossly overinflating the possible threat that Iran might represent. They have spoken in identical terms of how "intolerable" and "unacceptable" it would be for Iran to seek to acquire nuclear weapons, or even to pursue the rights it undeniably has under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. So they will hardly be in a position to tamp down the hysteria, even if they wanted to. And they won't want to.

I think now that the Bush administration knows there is another war coming, the one they've planned for a long time. And they know it will make everything else irrelevant, probably until Bush and the rest have safely left office. Finally, they know that the next war will make the results of the election virtually meaningless, whether the Democrats win or not.

I think that's the plan. The Bush administration knows one other thing, as well: they know when the next war will begin.

The rest of us will have to wait to find out.