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Having made such a smashing success out of its war with Iraq, the Bush administration now seems to be pondering the glories of yet another one in Iran.
In recent weeks, various administration officials and their amen corner in the neoconservative press have muttered and mumbled about the perils of Iran suddenly developing—guess what?—“weapons of mass destruction.”
Is there nothing that can embarrass these people?
Then there’s the matter of Iranian support for terrorism, which is probably more or less real, or certainly has been in the past. Not long after National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State John Bolton and President Bush himself started warning about Iranian nukes in the last month, the Iraqi government began whining that Tehran was actually helping arm the militias that the world’s youngest democracy in the Middle East seems unable to defeat.
Of course Iran may well be helping the militias. Many of the latter, like the Iranians, are Shiite, and because of past unpleasantnesses with Iraq, Tehran has every reason to want a friendly Shiite regime in Baghdad rather than governments like those of either Saddam Hussein or the current one.
But the main reason (or rather rationalization) for a snit with Iran by the United States is the sudden blossoming of its nuclear capacities.
Last week Mr. Bolton, a major proponent of war with Iraq, described Iran’s weapons as “grave threats to international security” and claimed Iranian diplomats told European diplomats they could produce nuclear weapons within a year.
The Europeans don’t quite bear out that version of what the Iranians said, but since when do you expect accuracy from this administration?
Even before Mr. Bolton’s remarks, Dr. Rice unloosed some of her own on CNN. Despite years of American warnings about Iranian nukes, nobody paid attention, but now, the world is “worried and suspicious” as we said they should be all along. “The United States,” Dr. Rice insisted, “was the first to say that Iran was a threat in this way,”[Transcript] and she came very close to saying the United States would take pre-emptive action if Iran didn’t just junk the whole thing.
Since the administration still insists its war with Iraq was justified as preemption, and since the basis for a preemptive strike on Iran is the same as that offered for the one on Iraq, war would seem to be the logical thing to do.
But when top officials like Dr. Rice and Mr. Bolton call another state a “threat,” war becomes more than just logical—it lurches toward the probable.
And war is exactly what the war party in the neoconservative hive wants and has wanted for some time.
Last month, neocon columnist Charles Krauthammer informed us that the imminence of Iran’s acquisition of nukes makes “the question of preemptive attack all the more urgent.” “If nothing is done, a fanatical terrorist regime openly dedicated to the destruction of the ‘Great Satan’ will have both nuclear weapons and the terrorists and the missiles to deliver them.” Wow, just like Iraq, remember?
[Axis of Evil, Part Two? Charles Krauthammer, July 23, 2004]
Then there’s Michael Ledeen, also a charter member of the Let’s-have-a-war-with-everybody-as-long-as-they’re-Muslims persuasion. Mr. Ledeen has been growling for a U.S. war with Iran for years, and especially in the last month on the grounds, among others, that Iran has links with Al Qaeda.
Some observers argue that the administration is ginning up another war with Iran to mask its failures in Iraq, but in fact, as the rumblings from chaps like Mr. Krauthammer and Mr. Ledeen (and others) suggest, war with Iran has long been on the neocon table anyway, regardless of the immediate threats it may or may not pose to anybody.
For its part, Iran has met all this bluster from the administration and its friendlies with predictable threats of its own. Last week the Iranian Defense Minister announced that Iran might just launch its own pre-emptive strikes against U.S. troops in the area if it thought its nuclear facilities were threatened.
Iran’s response is predictable for the simple reason that most of what the administration accuses it of is not only probably true but also probably justifiable from the perspective of its own security, especially given the U.S. war with Iraq.
Having seen what the United States has done and is willing to do in Iraq, neither Tehran nor any other government in the region should delude itself that we and the armchair Napoleons of neoconservatism would not do it to them. It therefore has every good reason to prepare for war.
And what that means, of course, is that the entire Middle East may now be on the eve of yet another generation of war and chaos—which is one reason some people opposed the war with Iraq in the first place.