October 03, 2006

Paranoia Is the Only Rational Response

Billmon writes:
But -- despite everything -- I still find it hard to believe an American president and his political hit team would deliberately use a war, and the inevitable war hysteria, to hold a few more marginal seats in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Call me naive, but I still don't think we've sunk quite that low -- yet.

It remains a fact, though, that this administration, and the criminal conspiracy it calls a political party, both desperately, desperately need to change the subject, and fast, if they're going to preserve their death grip on power and keep the process servers at bay. It doesn't look like a Code Orange Alert is going to cut it this time.


Like I said, I don't expect it happen. War with Iran may be and probably is coming, but I doubt it's coming on Karl Rove's timetable.

Still, given the hole the Rovians now find themselves in, and the stakes they're playing for, I'm going to be nervously paranoid each and every day until the polls close on November 7.

Can you blame me?
In an email to a close friend yesterday, I described the usually low-level anxiety I've been feeling for over a month. It ebbs and flows, and at certain times it's more intense than at others. But it never leaves me now. I noted that I did not expect it to lift until the evening of election day.

I can't say, as Billmon does, that "I don't expect" an attack on Iran to happen before November. [See here.] In a way, my judgment appears to me to be worse: I simply don't know. To me, it is entirely possible that the Bush administration will launch an attack on Iran before November 7. The totality of this administration's record demonstrates a level and depth of irrationality that is impossible to grasp fully. The monstrousness of such an act should always be emphasized, repeatedly:
Any military attack by the United States on Iran within the foreseeable future -- even an attack using only conventional weapons -- would be profoundly immoral, and eternally unforgivable. Remember the critical facts: all experts agree that Iran is approximately five to ten years away from having a nuclear weapon. Moreover, Iran is fully entitled to take the actions it does at present, including the enrichment of uranium it announced yesterday. It is entitled to take those actions under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory. While we condemn Iran and maintain that its actions are "intolerable" and "unacceptable" -- even though they are entirely permissible under the relevant agreements, and are only "intolerable" because we say so without any moral, legal or strategic justification for that stance -- we carve out exceptions for a country like India, which is not a signatory to the nonproliferation treaty. The position of the United States is an entirely unprincipled one, and one which devolves into incoherence.

These central facts lead to only one conclusion: an attack on Iran would represent a blatant, naked act of aggression against a country that does not threaten us. It would not be an act of self-defense, if that term has any meaning at all: there is nothing at present or in the immediate future to defend ourselves against. Of course, the same was true of Iraq. We refuse to learn any lessons at all.
We should always remember one further fact: those in the administration who drive our foreign policy have always wanted and intended to attack Iran. That was the big target from the very beginning. The question of timing is a separate one. From their perspective, and if they think such an attack would ensure continuing Republican control of Congress, why not do it in the next month? Two for the price of one, and all that...and never mind the possibly tens or hundreds of thousands dead, and possibly even more if the mayhem rapidly spirals out of control. Never mind that the United States would forever brand itself as one of most destructive, contemptible, damnable nations in history, engaging in murderous, aggressive war whenever the whim strikes it.

I don't do anything to alleviate my anxiety, except for occasional meditation and deep breathing, and diverting myself now and then with light reading or watching frivolous movies. I've learned to live with it. It's one of the necessities of living in perilous times, especially when you write about political and cultural issues.

But it's going to be a very, very, very long month.
What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy? -- Ursula LeGuin