News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: War with Iran as October Surprise?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

War with Iran as October Surprise?

The writer Spengler went on record several months ago with a prediction that the Bush admin. had an October surprise in store for the November mid-term elections. The "surprise" would be a war with Iran, something I have written about for many months now. In terms of the elections, I do not htink that the effect will be what the Bush admin. believes it will be: a rallying around the flag and overwhelming support for the Republican ticket. Instead, I think that such a war could solidify the growing diassatisfaction with this admin's foreign policy and war-making stance. ...

Several authors of renown have cast supsicion on any such war by the Bush admin. They note the fact that the US Army is stretched thin in Iraq. This situation would forestall any invasion of Iran by land forces. Yet, I think that these writers focus too much on land invasion. The Navy and Air Force have significant assets and resources available to undertake some form of attack on Iran. Such an attack would simply be undertaken to destroy supposed Iranian nuclear facilities and disruption of Iranian social and political institutions. I think that the Bush admin. believes here that an attack of this kind would undermine the Iranian government to such an extent that indigenous opposition groups would try to foment a coup.

Two reports highlight the reasons for heightened speculation about an imminent US attack on Iran. Mother Jones, for example, writes the following:

A strike force led by the aircraft carrier Eisenhower is currently making its way to the entrance of the Persian Gulf, with a predicted arrival date of October 21. The Navy officially claims that the Eisenhower’s deployment is part of a normal rotation of ships in and out of the Gulf. But The Nation reports that the carrier’s deployment date was pushed up significantly. Both Time and MSNBC say the move was accompanied by a request from the Chief of Naval Operations to revamp a plan to blockade Iran from the Persian Gulf.

The Nation got its story from an anti-war retired Air Force Colonel, Sam Gardiner, who claims that officers of the deploying ships contacted him and "complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress." But the president might see it differently. When Bush addressed the U.N. in mid-September, he claimed that Iran's leaders were "fund[ing] terrorism and fuel[ing] extremism." And President Bush has made a point of broadly interpreting the post-9/11 congressional vote authorizing him to combat terrorism (including as authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on American citizens). He could potentially initiate conflict with Iran with no further congressional approval.
In another posting, Steven Soldz at Psyche, Science, and Society writes:
Hedges may be wrong. In fact, we must hope he is. But I will no longer place bets on it. In fact, one factor he doesn’t mention that may increase the impulse to launch war is the free-fall the Republicans are experiencing in the polls, and in their hopes of maintaining control of Congress. Those who so confidently expected to dominate and remake the entire world in their image may, upon seeing their hold on power shatter, decide to launch the dice and see what comes up. The lure of the excitement may be too great for them to resist. Those who have had such apparent success at transforming their fantasies into reality may not gracefully accept their failure. After all, more than one despot in history has gone down in a blaze of glory. If our leaders decide to follow such a path, it may depend upon the rest of us to stop them so that we do not follow them along the path to destruction.
Soldz quotes Time's Chris Hedges' apprehensions extensively. Most notably, Soldz pinpoints Hedges' depiction of the chaos such an attack will ignite in the Mideast and the world economy:
An attack on Iran will ignite the Middle East. The loss of Iranian oil, coupled with Silkworm missile attacks by Iran on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, could send oil soaring to well over $110 a barrel. The effect on the domestic and world economy will be devastating, very possibly triggering a huge, global depression. The 2 million Shiites in Saudi Arabia, the Shiite majority in Iraq and the Shiite communities in Bahrain, Pakistan and Turkey will turn in rage on us and our dwindling allies. We will see a combination of increased terrorist attacks, including on American soil, and the widespread sabotage of oil production in the Gulf. Iraq, as bad as it looks now, will become a death pit for American troops as Shiites and Sunnis, for the first time, unite against their foreign occupiers.

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