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William Pfaff, "Arms, Iran, and Attack"--2/14/07

 Columns
<http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/index.php?storytopic=1> :
Arms, Iran, and Attack
on 2007/2/14 11:50:00 (113 reads)


Paris, February 13, 2007 – The discovery of the obvious is not a
convincing casus belli, and the recent presentation in Baghdad of
munitions of Iranian origin found in Iraq, merited comparison with
Claude Raine’s declaration that he was “shocked, shocked!” when told
that gambling took place in Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca saloon.
Some critics of the George W. Bush administration, some specialists in
Iranian arms, and some reporters have been skeptical about the Baghdad
presentation, but I would think it perfectly reasonable for Iran to
supply weapons to the Shia militias and insurgents in Iraq.


The United States has been trying to overthrow Iran’s Islamist
government since 1979. It has successfully organized UN Security Council
sanctions against the country for its nuclear activities, and sponsors
opponents of the regime, anti-regime propaganda and political warfare
activities. American agents allegedly have been inside Iran promoting
resistance among the Kurdish and Turkic-speaking minorities.
Since the beginning of 2007, Washington and Tel Aviv have been
trumpeting threats against Iran, and circulating rumors of bombing
attacks – even nuclear ones – to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.
It would seem obvious that within the limits imposed by concern for
regional stability, the Iranians would do whatever they can to make the
American occupation of Iraq as costly as possible. Even if they are
caught doing it, they can assume this would make little difference to a
Bush administration and Israeli government determined to attack Iran --
whatever the American public thinks.
On February 8, former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski
suggested to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the
administration may intend to attack. He described a sequence of actions
that could furnish “a pretext for war.”
He said that in administration circles and among its neoconservative
allies “a mythical historical narrative” is being spun to justify war.
It claims that Iraq and Iran are part of “the decisive ideological
struggle of our time,” in succession to Nazism and Stalinism, an idea
that was first put forward by the American pro-Israel zealot Norman
Podhoretz. (Podhoretz was also the first to redefine anti-semitism as
criticism of Israeli government policy, now all the rage in right-wing
American Jewish circles.)
This is pernicious balderdash. It is historical gibberish to compare the
separate attempts of two totalitarian great powers -- one of them,
Germany, probably the most important industrial state of the pre-war
era, and the other a postwar nuclear power -- to establish
world-dominating positions, with the phenomenon of Islamic extremism, a
minor force inside contemporary Islamic society, and a negligible one
outside the third world.
The construction of this mythical narrative rests upon a naïve
conception of international progress that has been accepted and
celebrated by past Democratic administrations and liberal political
forces, as well as American business conservatives and ideological
neo-conservatives. This holds that an increasingly globalized and
integrated world society is marching unstoppably towards universal
prosperity and democracy: as the New York Times writer Roger Cohen has
forecast, “a century that will make a diverse world more unified,
prosperous and free than ever before.”
This simplistic faith in progress invites an equivalent exaggeration,
and diabolization, of whatever challenges it. Thus the neo-conservatives
have seized upon the Islamist fantasy of recreating a great caliphate
that would include the Mideast, Africa, Spain, Islamized Britain,
Mediterranean and Balkan Europe, and the Near East on to Central Asia.
Malaysia, Indonesia, and (why not?) ex-Moghul India could be part of it.
Even Muslim China and Mindanao (where American army advisors are already
alongside the Philippine army to fight the Muslim separatists that the
same American army failed to defeat in 1899-1913; our
great-grandfathers’ “Moro rebels” are now identified by the Bush
administration as a “terrorist movement.”
It is not a joke, though, that in important western political and policy
circles people are amalgamating the war in Iraq, now essentially
sectarian, religious and tribal, and the struggles in Lebanon and
Palestine with Hamas and Hezbollah (hence indirectly with Iran and
Syria), with NATO’s war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the war
against terrorist bands in East Africa and Arabia, the war against the
“Islamic Courts” in Somalia, Sudan’s humanitarian crisis in Darfur and
attendant struggles among political factions in Chad and the Central
African Republic -- and the “war” against disaffected Muslim youths in
British, French and German ghettos.
All is seen as making up an integrated and titanic global struggle which
will make it necessary for America to be mobilized for generations --
and in the immediate future to bomb Iran.
If that is not a sufficiently intimidating prospect, consider that an
Israeli attack on Iran, which inevitably would produce Iranian
retaliation against American forces in the region, or the deliberate
American provocation whose possibility Brzezinski noted in his Senate
testimony, could set this whole conflagration going, to the patriotic
acclaim of part of the American public, all of the neo-conservatives,
and to the (short-lived) satisfaction of Richard Cheney and George W. Bush.
© Copyright 2007 by Tribune Media Services International. All Rights
Reserved.
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