February 24, 2007

Dispatch from Germany, Summer of 1939

[Part III, with some specific suggestions for action, is here.]

Seymour Hersh, in an article published almost one year ago:
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be "wiped off the map." Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. "That’s the name they’re using. They say, 'Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?'"

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was "absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb" if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do," and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy."
An article dated February 24, 2007, titled, "Cheney Hints at Iran Strike":
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has raised the possibility of military action to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

He has endorsed Republican senator John McCain's proposition that the only thing worse than a military confrontation with Iran would be a nuclear-armed Iran.

In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Cheney said: "I would guess that John McCain and I are pretty close to agreement."

The visiting Vice-President said that he had no doubt Iran was striving to enrich uranium to the point where they could make nuclear weapons.

He accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of espousing an "apocalyptic philosophy" and making "threatening noises about Israel and the US and others".

He also said Iran was a sponsor of terrorism, especially through Hezbollah. However, the US did not believe Iran possessed any nuclear weapons as yet.

"You get various estimates of where the point of no return is," Mr Cheney said, identifying nuclear terrorism as the greatest threat to the world.

"Is it when they possess weapons or does it come sooner, when they have mastered the technology but perhaps not yet produced fissile material for weapons?"
The Democrats could take action to try to stop this criminal catastrophe, but they will not:
I indicated the other day some crucial actions the Democrats in Congress could take to stop these events, which are already gathering terrifying momentum. I repeat those suggestions here. ...

It simply is not true there's nothing the Democrats can do to stop the drive toward a wider war. For God's sake, they control Congress now. There's plenty they can do -- if they want to, and if they want to lead. The actions outlined above are critical; all of them together would throw a huge roadblock in the path of this criminal administration.


If, several months or a year from now, we are in the middle of a catastrophic and ever-widening war triggered by an attack on Iran (by either the U.S. or Israel), let no Democrat be heard to say: "But there wasn't anything we could do! We didn't want this to happen, but there wasn't anything we could do to stop it!"

It's absolutely not true. If this nightmare should come to pass, they will be its co-equal creators together with the executive branch.
From an article dated January 31, 2007:
Senior European policy-makers are increasingly worried that the US administration will resort to air strikes against Iran to try to destroy its suspect nuclear programme.

As transatlantic friction over how to deal with the Iranian impasse intensifies, there are fears in European capitals that the nuclear crisis could come to a head this year because of US frustration with Russian stalling tactics at the UN security council. "The clock is ticking," said one European official. "Military action has come back on to the table more seriously than before. The language in the US has changed."
Many similar stories have appeared in recent weeks.

The Democrats could take action to try to stop this immoral catastrophe, but they will not:
Yet, despite these crimes, the war chants rise once again, this time directed at Iran. If we should attack Iran in the near future, much of the world will treat us as we will fully deserve: as a barbarian, pariah nation, which no one can trust and which will join the most monstrous countries in history.

Is there a massive protest from Americans about the route we may follow? No. Are the Democrats who now control Congress at least trying to avert this catastrophe, which may be the last? No -- because they fully share the belief in American "exceptionalism" and in our "right" to worldwide hegemony. Is there even one prominent voice in America regularly explaining the horror of what we have already done, and what we may still do? No.

If this remains unchanged, and if we launch another war of blatant, unforgivable aggression, we will deserve everything we get -- and more. Historians, if there are any in the years to come, will see what we were and what we did, and they will judge us accordingly.

I honestly don't have the slightest idea what people are waiting for, before they finally begin to take action against the still worse nightmare that might be coming. I think most people must tell themselves that it won't be "that bad." But it will be; it will probably be worse than anything we can imagine.
I detailed the profound and horrifying immorality of a U.S. attack on Iran in the current circumstances, and some of the likely equally horrifying consequences, in "Morality, Humanity and Civilization: 'Nothing remains...but memories.'" From that essay:
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.

So an attack on Iran, even if confined to the use of conventional weapons, would confirm beyond the point of any remaining dispute that we have abandoned all the constraints on military action that the world has accepted for some time. We would make indisputably clear that we believe we have the "right" to make war on any nation, at any time, and on the merest whim. The existence of a threat to the United States is irrelevant and unnecessary to our actions. In effect, we will have declared war on the entire world, at least by implication. No one will be able to view themselves as safe: those we consider allies today might be viewed as enemies tomorrow. All concepts of "right" and "morality" would be jettisoned forever. We will have entered a world where brute force and military superiority are all that matter. Since no other nation can view itself as safe from our wrath, we can expect the rest of the world to make plans accordingly.

When the unprovoked, aggressive and non-defensive use of nuclear weapons is added to this picture, we will have entered a world of potential global holocaust.
The Democrats in Congress could take action to try to stop this impending catastrophe. They will not.

In this connection, IOZ anticipates me. I've been working on a lengthy essay, the working title of which is: "John Edwards -- A Case Study in Foreign Policy Ignorance, Amorality and Failure." Part of that post will analyze the plaudits accorded to Edwards by some of the more intelligent progressive bloggers, to their considerable discredit. Edwards fully embraces all the basic assumptions, the overall perspective, and the gross misperceptions (which is here a kind word for lies) that have led us to this fateful moment. And these bloggers swallow all of it, and don't even realize they are doing so.

In my notes for that essay dated February 16, I included a reference to this Wikipedia entry, which IOZ mentioned only yesterday. Let me offer the introductory paragraphs concerning the Gleiwitz incident:
The Gleiwitz incident was a staged attack on 31 August 1939 against the German radio station Sender Gleiwitz in Gleiwitz, Upper Silesia, Germany (since 1945: Gliwice, Republic of Poland) on the eve of World War II in Europe.

This provocation was one of several actions in Operation Himmler, a Nazi Germany project to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which would be used to justify the subsequent invasion of Poland.
This is our posture and strategy toward Iran: the posture and strategy of Nazi Germany toward Poland. But we are America the Good. We cannot commit evil of this kind. Many Germans believed the same thing about their country.

Germany, in the summer of 1939. Like most Germans then, most Americans will do nothing. In the hysteria combined with national triumphalism that will almost certainly follow a U.S. attack on Iran -- aided in significant part by many hawkish Democrats with their eyes on 2008, and by our criminally propagandistic media -- it is more than possible that martial law may be imposed. Perhaps only in several major cities to begin with, but a start is all they need. All the mechanisms are already in place for such action by this administration -- and the Democrats still have not learned how to fight this battle, either.

In "Thus the World Was Lost," I set forth several excerpts from Milton Mayer's, They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45. Mayer quotes one German, who said:
"You know," he went on, "when men who understand what is happening--the motion, that is, of history, not the reports of single events or developments--when such men do not object or protest, men who do not understand cannot be expected to. How many men would you say understand--in this sense--in America? And when, as the motion of history accelerates and those who don't understand are crazed by fear, as our people were, and made into a great 'patriotic' mob, will they understand then, when they did not before?

"We learned here--I say this freely--to give up trying to make them understand after, oh, the end of 1938, after the night of the synagogue burning and the things that followed it. Even before the war began, men who were teachers, men whose faith in teaching was their whole faith, gave up, seeing that there was no comprehension, no capacity left for comprehension, and the thing must go its course, taking first its victims, then its architects, and then the rest of us to destruction. ..."
I also offered parts of Mayer's recounting of the story of a chemical engineer, who first refused to take the "oath of fidelity" to the Nazi government, but finally did. When Mayer said that he didn't understand the engineer's reasons for contending that he should not have taken the oath, since the engineer did in fact save many innocent lives, the engineer replied:
"Perhaps not," he said, "but you must not forget that you are an American. I mean that, really. Americans have never known anything like this this experience--in its entirety, all the way to the end. That is the point."
And that, I fear more with each day that passes, is what we will finally learn: what "this experience" is like -- "in its entirety, all the way to the end."

And still, the Democrats in Congress and most Americans will do nothing that matters, and nothing to try to prevent catastrophe, should this administration decide to proceed with its plans to attack Iran.

I indicated recently that I would offer some specific suggestions about actions that might be taken (in addition to those genuinely critical actions I've already identified for the Congressional Democrats). Probably sometime in the next week, I still will do that. But I confess that I feel little motivation in connection with the task, for it strikes me as utterly futile.

I could observe how sad and pathetic it is, and what it reveals about our political culture generally and the world of political blogging more narrowly, that a writer with a very small readership needs to provide ideas of this kind -- while bloggers with huge audiences and "connections" to those in government appear to do absolutely nothing. But I'll let that go without further comment.

What destroys my motivation almost completely is my close to absolute conviction that, even when I do offer a number of suggestions, most of you will still do nothing, including virtually all the liberal and progressive bloggers. I honestly don't see any point in it whatsoever.

Still, I'll put forth those ideas I have. At least, I will know I did everything I could. [I'll post an entry setting forth the various ideas I have, and the rationales behind them, sometime on Monday, February 26. Done.] In the meantime, I strongly suggest you think about this:

Germany. The summer of 1939. What could the Germans have done, and what could they have done earlier -- before events reached that point? And what are you prepared and willing to do now?

If you care at all, you need to think about that. Start this weekend. For if not enough of us take action, then we may very well learn what the Germans did, and we may finally face this:
"[T]he thing must go its course, taking first its victims, then its architects, and then the rest of us to destruction."
And those of us who survive will have to endure the same nightmares -- nightmares that will not end for the rest of our lives.

AND: Part II of this series is here. And here is Part III, with some ideas about actions that can be taken.