Thursday, August 5, 2010

Exiting one quagmire; entering another?

Time's Joe Klein, on the supposed end of the US combat mission in Iraq, signing off with "Requiem for a Profound Misadventure"  as a "moment for reflection and humility in the face of a national embarrassment."  He also offers a kind of apology for his assertion, years ago, that invading Iraq might be a good thing:
The issue then was as clear as it is now. It demanded a clarity that I failed to summon. The essential principle is immutable: we should never go to war unless we have been attacked or are under direct, immediate threat of attack. Never. And never again.
Indeed.  But why, then, are the useful idiots in Congress - both Republicans and Democrats - urging Israel to launch a military strike against Iran?  Newly introduced HR 1553 signals to Netanyahu that Congress is behind him if (when?) he decided to send in Israeli bombers.  Blessedly, the resolution is non-binding, but Mr. Obama can hardly ignore it, especially with mid-term elections approaching.  (And you can also bet your bottom dollar that AIPAC and its buddies are counting on the timing here.)

Such a strike, they surely must know, will bring in the US when the Iranians respond?  And make no mistake, they will.  Please, please read today's piece ("A Cakewalk against Iran") from former CIA officer (and Ron Paul advisor) Philip Giraldi, who takes on the bomb-bomb-Iran views recently promoted by William Kristol and Reuel Marc Gerecht .  Giraldi says it plainly: an attack on Iran would be an "unmitigated disaster."
The reality is that an Israeli attack on Iran will trigger an all-out war in the region, which will quickly include the United States.  It might or might not eliminate Iran’s technical ability to build a nuclear weapon and it would almost certainly accelerate that process.  It would not bring down the Iranian regime and usher in reformers who would embrace Israel and the United States while singing "Kumbaya" around the campfire.  It would be extremely nasty, would not solve any problems in the Middle East, and would kill tens of thousands of innocent people, if not more.  It could easily lead to the use of nuclear weapons by either the United States or Israel.  For the neoconservatives, it is easy to dismiss the possible downside while emphasizing the upside that they perceive, which is protecting Israel by damaging Iran’s nuclear program and possibly bringing about some version of regime change.  But we have seen too many times in the past how the neoconservatives can be wrong — think only of the "cakewalk" that has been Iraq now seven years on and still running.  A new war in the Middle East would be an unmitigated disaster for Iran, the United States, and even for Israel.  It must be avoided at all costs.

If you need more argument to that effect, read Paul Rogers' recent report for the Oxford Research Group on the consequences of war with Iran.  (By the way, this is the same Paul Rogers who so accurately predicted - in 2002 - the disasters that an attack on Iraq might bring.)

Finally, remember that an Israel+US attack on Iran would completely put paid to any remaining shred of hope that Mr. Obama's 2009 Cairo-speech outreach to the Muslim world can bear fruit.  Indeed, it may already be too late. Laura Rozen reports on a new Arab public-opinion poll (by Shibley Telhami, an enormously well-respected expert in the area):

The most striking finding is that while early in the Obama administration, in April and May 2009, some 51 percent of those polled expressed optimism about American policy in the Middle East; in the 2010 poll, only 16 percent were hopeful, while a majority, 64 percent, were discouraged.

The data leaves little doubt that the deciding factor in the shift of opinion toward the Obama administration is disappointment on the Israeli-Palestinian issue," Telhami said by e-mail.

"Basically, Arabs have concluded that he can't deliver on his promises at best, or that he's just like Bush at worst," George Washington University Middle East specialist and writer Marc Lynch said. "But there's still considerable residual hope at this point that they're wrong and that he'll come through in the end."

Finally, another key finding of the poll: "a slight majority of the Arab public now sees a nuclear-armed Iran as being BETTER [my emphasis] for the Middle East."  That "slight majority" will no doubt skyrocket if Israel+USA attacks - maybe enough so that "moderates" like Mr. Mubarak in Cairo and King Abdullah in Amman will find themselves in permanent exile.


Timothy Jay said...

By "moderates"... do you mean autocrats supported by the US in the name of "regional stability"?

Great blog:)

John Robertson said...

Yes indeed, that's what I mean.


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