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Chris Hedges: Bush’s Nuclear Apocalypse

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TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below, to cheer everyone up, is an article by Chris Hedges,
former Middle East bureau chief of the New York Times.
I am unable to view the recent polls showing a 23% Democratic lead in
nationwide voting intentions for next month's Congessional elections
with unnuanced pleasure. I fear that, the bigger the poll gap is, the
more likely the regime will opt for an "October Surprise" -- and that it
will be the one Hedges describes.

*Chris Hedges: Bush’s Nuclear Apocalypse*

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Oct 9, 2006

By Chris Hedges

/Editor’s Note: The former Middle East bureau chief for The New York
Times and author of the bestseller “War Is a Force That Gives Us
Meaning” reports on Bush’s plan for Iran, and how a callous war,
conceived by zealots, will lead to a disaster of biblical proportions./

The aircraft carrier Eisenhower, accompanied by the guided-missile
cruiser USS Anzio, guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage, guided-missile
destroyer USS Mason and the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, is,
as I write, making its way to the Straits of Hormuz off Iran. The ships
will be in place to strike Iran by the end of the month. It may be a
bluff. It may be a feint. It may be a simple show of American power. But
I doubt it.

*War with Iran—a war that would unleash an apocalyptic scenario in the
Middle East—is probable by the end of the Bush administration. It could
begin in as little as three weeks*. This administration, claiming to be
anointed by a Christian God to reshape the world, and especially the
Middle East, defined three states at the start of its reign as “the
Axis of Evil.” They were Iraq, now occupied; North Korea, which, because
it has nuclear weapons, is untouchable; and Iran. Those who do not take
this apocalyptic rhetoric seriously have ignored the twisted pathology
of men like Elliott Abrams, who helped orchestrate the disastrous and
illegal contra war in Nicaragua, and who now handles the Middle East for
the National Security Council. He knew nothing about Central America. He
knows nothing about the Middle East. He sees the world through the
childish, binary lens of good and evil, us and them, the forces of
darkness and the forces of light. And it is this strange, twilight
mentality that now grips most of the civilian planners who are barreling
us towards a crisis of epic proportions.

These men advocate a doctrine of permanent war, a doctrine which, as
William R. Polk points out, is a slight corruption of Leon Trotsky’s
doctrine of permanent revolution. These two revolutionary doctrines
serve the same function, to intimidate and destroy all those classified
as foreign opponents, to create permanent instability and fear and to
silence domestic critics who challenge leaders in a time of national
crisis. It works. The citizens of the United States, slowly being
stripped of their civil liberties, are being herded sheep-like, once
again, over a cliff.

But this war will be different. It will be catastrophic. It will usher
in the apocalyptic nightmares spun out in the dark, fantastic visions of
the Christian right. And there are those around the president who see
this vision as preordained by God; indeed, the president himself may
hold such a vision. The hypocrisy of this vaunted moral crusade is not
lost on those in the Middle East. Iran actually signed the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has violated a codicil of that treaty
written by European foreign ministers, but this codicil was never
ratified by the Iranian parliament. I do not dispute Iran’s intentions
to acquire nuclear weapons nor do I minimize the danger should it
acquire them in the estimated five to 10 years. But contrast Iran with
Pakistan, India and Israel. These three countries refused to sign the
treaty and developed nuclear weapons programs in secret. Israel now has
an estimated 400 to 600 nuclear weapons. The word “Dimona,” the name of
the city where the nuclear facilities are located in Israel, is
shorthand in the Muslim world for the deadly Israeli threat to Muslims’
existence. What lessons did the Iranians learn from our Israeli,
Pakistani and Indian allies?

Given that we are actively engaged in an effort to destabilize the
Iranian regime by recruiting tribal groups and ethnic minorities inside
Iran to rebel, given that we use apocalyptic rhetoric to describe what
must be done to the Iranian regime, given that other countries in the
Middle East such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are making noises about
developing a nuclear capacity, and given that, with the touch of a
button Israel could obliterate Iran, what do we expect from the
Iranians? On top of this, the Iranian regime grasps that the doctrine of
permanent war entails making “preemptive” and unprovoked strikes. Those
in Washington who advocate this war, knowing as little about the
limitations and chaos of war as they do about the Middle East, believe
they can hit about 1,000 sites inside Iran to wipe out nuclear
production and cripple the 850,000-man Iranian army. The disaster in
southern Lebanon, where the Israeli air campaign not only failed to
break Hezbollah but united most Lebanese behind the militant group, is
dismissed. These ideologues, after all, do not live in a reality-based
universe. The massive Israeli bombing of Lebanon failed to pacify 4
million Lebanese. What will happen when we begin to pound a country of
70 million people? As retired General Wesley K. Clark and others have
pointed out, once you begin an air campaign it is only a matter of time
before you have to put troops on the ground or accept defeat, as the
Israelis had to do in Lebanon. And if we begin dropping bunker busters,
cruise missiles and iron fragmentation bombs on Iran this is the choice
that must be faced—either sending American forces into Iran to fight a
protracted and futile guerrilla war or walking away in humiliation.

“As a people we are enormously forgetful,” Dr. Polk, one of the
country’s leading scholars on the Middle East, told an Oct. 3 gathering
of the Foreign Policy Association in New York. “We should have learned
from history that foreign powers can’t win guerrilla wars. The British
learned this from our ancestors in the American Revolution and
re-learned it in Ireland. Napoleon learned it in Spain. The Germans
learned it in Yugoslavia. We should have learned it in Vietnam and the
Russians learned it in Afghanistan and are learning it all over again in
Chechnya and we are learning it, of course, in Iraq. Guerrilla wars are
almost unwinnable. As a people we are also very vain. Our way of life is
the only way. We should have learned that the rich and powerful can’t
always succeed against the poor and less powerful.”

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.

The country, however, that will pay the biggest price will be Israel.
And the sad irony is that those planning this war think of themselves as
allies of the Jewish state. A conflagration of this magnitude could see
Israel drawn back in Lebanon and sucked into a regional war, one that
would over time spell the final chapter in the Zionist experiment in the
Middle East. The Israelis aptly call their nuclear program “the Samson
option.” The Biblical Samson ripped down the pillars of the temple and
killed everyone around him, along with himself.

If you are sure you will be raptured into heaven, your clothes left
behind with the nonbelievers, then this news should cheer you up. If you
are rational, however, these may be some of the last few weeks or months
in which to enjoy what is left of our beleaguered, dying republic and
way of life.

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[User Picture]
On October 12th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC), nebris commented:
Major Crap Shoot
I'm sure the crew in Tehran are watching all of this carefully, including the Mid Term polling numbers. In order for this to be an October Surprise, well, it has to happen in October. That gives Iran enough time to 'set Iraq on fire' and push American military fatalities in Iraq from the present 3 to 4 a day up to 3 to 4 an hour. And I'm fairly certain that they have both the will and the capacity to do so. If we lose 200 to 300 dead in the weeks running up to the Mid Terms, the Rethuglicans are fucking finished.

But however one slices this, many more are going to suffer and die before this thing ends. *sigh*

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