News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Moving Beyond Iraq... On To Tehran

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Moving Beyond Iraq... On To Tehran

As I listen to the Senate Armed Services Committee's questioning of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on C-Span, I hear a strange emphasis on Iran. Ostensibly, the testimony of Rumsfeld is about the security situation in Iraq. Yet, the shadow of Iran plays at the edges and consequently the words, and what I can only call innuendo, evoke veiled threats against Iran. ...

In many conversations there's always the lag or opening left between what's said and what is not said. In the testimony of bureaucrats there's always this lag because they're always trying to do what bureaucrats do when speaking bureaucratese: running away from personal responsibility and trying to give the impression that whatever happens in their organization is done by some undefinable necessity or force.

Add to this general observation about bureaucracies the notion that Rumsfeld and his aides are simply unwilling to show their hand and hide as much as they show, the lag becomes ominous with an emptiness overflowing with a vague threat.

The Bush admin's rhetorical strategy is to paint the Iraqi war as one front in a wider confrontation with so-called Islamofascism. As such a front, establishing complete order or total non-action on the part of the Iraqi insurgency is not necessary. The way Rumsfeld and the generals are describing Iraq before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee leads me to think that they are looking at Iraq in such a way that the fighting is manageable.

They are saying that in such a situation, we do not need to focus completely on Iraq, since the Iraqis themselves can now deal with the insurgency. From a military standpoint, the Iraqis themselves, while incapable of winning the insurgency, are strong enough or growing strong enough to carry on the fight without full US military support.

If such a speculative framework is at least plausible, it then becomes apparent that the Rumsfeld/Cheney military paradigm sees the possibility fo expanding the theater of war to Iran. With Hizbullah neutralized or in retreat from the Israeli invasion, an attack on Iran becomes even more tenable to this way of thinking.

It is important to note, however, that not only is Hizbullah semi-neutralized but that Israel can also pose a military danger to Syria, should that prove necessary. Of course, the neocon game plan has dais all along that any viable solution to the Mideast problem involves not only taking out Iran but also Syria. So the danger posed to Syria is not just a defensive one but has the potential to become an offensive into Syria itself.

President Bush's foot-dragging on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is supposedly about creating a wider, more viable, deeply ingrained peace in the region. While I am against a band-aid approach to the Israel-Hizbullah-Palestinian conflict, I do not think that this is what Bush means. His notion of peace includes widespread regime change throughout the region. Most importantly, it involves the destruction of the Iranian government.

In his recent radio address, the President stated--from under the cover of supposedly talking about the Lebanese"tragedy"--the neocon policy quite explicitly. This policy is quietly but surely manifesting itself.
The President said:

As we work to resolve this current crisis, we must recognize that Lebanon is the latest flashpoint in a broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region. For decades, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by promoting stability in the Middle East, yet these policies gave us neither. The lack of freedom in that region created conditions where anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits. We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 innocent Americans.

The experience of September the 11th made it clear that we could no longer tolerate the status quo in the Middle East. We saw that when an entire region simmers in violence, that violence will eventually reach our shores and spread across the entire world. The only way to secure our Nation is to change the course of the Middle East — by fighting the ideology of terror and spreading the hope of freedom.

So we have launched a forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East, and that strategy has set in motion a transformation that is changing millions of lives for the better. From Kabul to Baghdad, to Beirut, and beyond, we've seen the birth of democratic governments that are striving to serve their people, reject terror, and work for peace. We're also seeing those who oppose democracy fighting its progress with all the destructive power they can muster. We see this in Hezbollah's attacks on Israel, in the suicide bombings that kill innocent Iraqis, and in al Qaeda's campaign of terror across the world. [my emphases]
The words in boldface are significant not necessarily for what they say in the context of this speech but in what they do not say in the context of the “war on terror” in general. As I have tried to bring to light from at least the beginning of this year, the Bush admin’s objectives and overall strategy vis a vis the Mideast includes not only securing and pacifying Iraq but in destabilizing the entire region.

Whether the US strategy is part of a plan to create anarchy or not, or what the neocons call “creative destruction,” the current admin’s long-term goals appear at least to be showing their true form. That it involves a massive and unprecedented plan to counter what those who support this plan call “an existential struggle” between the forces of light and darkness seems clear.

There are numerous untested and perhaps fallacious premises and conclusions contained in this scenario. That there are does not necessarily, however, mean that the general drift of the comments are wrong. I could have all the facts wrong and yet the outcome itself could become reality all the same.

To tell the truth, I hope that I am wrong. But I feel that these anxieties must be aired so that they can be discounted and so that the real questions and the reality does become clear. On the other hand, I think that this administration and its neocon supporters invite such anxieties because they consciously obscure and misinform about their intentions vis a vis the Mideast.

There will soon be few alternatives left in dealing with Iran, it seems. Western media continue to portray it as a seething, malignant mass of anti-Semitic war-mongers hell-bent on some version of past Islamic empires. Contrary to this over-simplified view, however, is one expressed by Lebanon's Newspaper, The Daily Star:
Iran's interests are complex enough that there might be something to discuss with the US. Both countries are in competition in Iraq, but also have a vested interest in averting a civil war there. The nuclear issue is rapidly escalating into a confrontation between Iran and the rest of the international community, and while the US and its partners may be unsure of what to do next, it's not Tehran's intention to become a global pariah. And for all its bluster, Iran's regime is not keen to preside over a growing clash between the Middle East's Sunnis and Shiites - with a Hizbullah victory or defeat in Lebanon certain to exacerbate communal tensions.
I think the neocom monologue with its own hubris is immune to such arguments. I can only conjecture that they believe that they are justified in doing because they think that they have right and truth on their side. Along with Leo Strauss, they appear to further believe that lies and deceit are justified when virtuous men bent on the greater good must contend with what they perceive as unenlightened multitudes and minds incapable of seeing the true Good--as Plato conceived it--for what it is in and of itself.

Update 1 For some people, at least, the Bush strategy seems to be in danger from the instability caused by the Iraqi civil war (via War&Piece):
British ambassador to Iraq, in leaked memo: "The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy. ... Even the lowered expectation of President Bush for Iraq - a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror - must remain in doubt."

Update 2 See the excellent, excellent review of the neocon game plan at No Quarter. She has unearthed great quotes from the neocons, as well as some that show how Bush is buying into the neocon party line.

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1 comment:

The Avid Reader said...

Interesting CL. I wonder if this use of 'Creative Destruction' really has a double meaning.

I remember Joseph Schumpeter was the first to use the term in his description of Capitalism:

The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation–if I may use that biological term–that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .