Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Nightmare before Cheney and Bush leave office

On to Iran, my pretties! Mephisto in the Air (1828) by Eugène Delacroix

I remember sometime in the early/mid 1980s hearing Jerry Brown mention in a speech that everyone recognized that the fall of the Soviet bloc had huge repercussions for the politics of Europe. But that no one seemed to expect that the end of the Cold War could also have momentous consequences for American politics. As he often does, Brown was seeing currents of change in a way that few others were conceiving them at the time.

John Esposito wrote in the 1998 edition of his book The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?:

With the triumph of the democratization movement in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet empire, Islam constitutes the most pervasive and powerful transnational force in the world, with one billion adherents spread out across the globe. Muslims are a majority in some 56 countries ranging from Africa to Southeast Asia, and they exist in growing and significant numbers in the United States, the former Soviet Union, and Europe. For a Western world long accustomed to a global vision and foreign policy predicated upon superpower rivalry for global influence if not dominance - a U.S.-Soviet conflict often portrayed as a struggle between good and evil, capitalism and communism - it has been all too tempting to identify another global ideological menace to fill the "threat vacuum" created by the demise of communism. (my emphasis)
Islam became a convenient enemy for many, though it took the 9/11 attacks for it to become credible to enough people so that those interested in threat inflation could use it as the central justification for an American military establishment that spends half or more of the military spending of the entire world.

But the convenient enemy becomes more and more inconvenient when it requires hot war after hot war after hot war, each of them leaving behind military commitments that could linger for a decade or longer. Gareth Porter reminds us that For Neocons, Iran War Aim Is Still Regime Change Inter Press Service 10/30/07.

But the costs and benefits are spread unevently. Robert Scheer writes in his weekly column about the real existing military industrial complex, Cashing In on Terror 10/30/07. War is profitable for some companies. And while we hear endless references to "Munich" and "appeasement" and "1938" whenever somebody is agitating to start a war with yet another country, we hear and read very, very little about the how during the fabled Good War the United States imposed an excess profits tax and both Congress and the Executive actively regulated and investigated companies making money from war business.

Still, actual shooting wars threaten the cozy position of companies raking in profits from military business. The billions being poured down the ratholes represented by boondoggles like the ongoing Star War scam can go on for years without causing much of a public stir. But when something like the Iraq War exposes how deeply flawed many aspect of our military culture in general really are, it tends to raise embarassing questions. And to make more people pay attention to them.

Robert Dreyfuss blogs today on a Zogby poll with discouraging results: Americans favor bombing Iran 10/31/07. Dreyfuss also quotes Philip Gordon of the Brookings Institute in a panel presentation on Tuesday:

I can envision a scenario in which, sometime next year, the intelligence community is against a war, telling the White House it doesn't know enough; the military is against it, saying that they're bogged down in Iraq; the State Department is against it, saying that there won't be any allies for a war with Iran; and the political people tell the White House that Congress won't support it - and still, the president and the vice president decide to go to war anyway.
Still, I would hate to see a sense of inevitability arise around this. Because expanding the Iraq War to Iran is a bad, bad idea.

It would certainly help if our Democratic Presidential candidates would show some real leadership on this. Because the Establishment press certainly is not going to. From the excerpts I've heard from Tuesday's Democratic debate, Chris Dodd sounds the best on this issue to me.

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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
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-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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