Gary Hart in a recent column warns that the Bush administration may be planning an “October surprise” -- “a preemptive war against Iran sometime before the November election.”
“The steps,” writes Hart, “will be these: Air Force tankers will be deployed to fuel B-2 bombers, Navy cruise missile ships will be positioned at strategic points in the northern Indian Ocean and perhaps the Persian Gulf, unmanned drones will collect target data, and commando teams will refine those data. The latter two steps are already being taken. Then the president will speak on national television. He will say this: Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons; if this happens, the entire region will go nuclear; our diplomatic efforts to prevent this have failed; Iran is offering a haven to known al Qaeda leaders; the fate of our ally Israel is at stake; Iran persists in supporting terrorism, including in Iraq; and sanctions will have no affect (and besides they are for sissies). He will not say: ...and besides, we need the oil. Therefore, he will announce, our own national security and the security of the region requires us to act. ‘Tonight, I have ordered the elimination of all facilities in Iran that are dedicated to the production of weapons of mass destruction...’”
I don’t agree that Bush wants to go to war because “we need the oil.” I think it more accurate to say that this administration is dominated by people who think the U.S. needs to acquire hegemony over Southwest Asia in order to control the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, encircle rising China, cow allies and future foes alike with a string of military bases in the region, and maybe make the neighborhood friendlier to Israel. I think the whole project and international reactions to it should be understood in the context of inter-imperialist competition, rather than mere lust for petrol. But the former Colorado senator and presidential aspirant is surely right on target in suggesting that Bush has goals quite other than his stated ones in planning the assault on Iran. And he’s right to warn that such an attack -- however idiotic it may seem to many of us -- is very much on the table as the November elections approach.
Many of those who warn of this simultaneously bemoan the lack of an antiwar movement effectively organizing opposition. There is in fact a movement of some significance, however factionalized and flawed. In particular the organization World Can’t Wait has done some excellent work in uniting a wide range of war opponents in numerous actions and events. Daniel Ellsberg, Ray McGovern, Alice Walker, Howard Zinn, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Ralph Nader, Gore Vidal, Ed Asner, Sean Penn, Harry Belafonte, Tom Morello, Martin Sheen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gloria Steinem, Viggo Mortensen, Margaret Cho, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, Bianca Jagger, Kurt Vonnegut, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gen. Janis Karpinski, Ron Kovic, U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and thousands of others have endorsed the group’s call to “drive out the Bush regime” and to “stop the attack on Iran.” One step towards this worthy goal is a day of action October 5, with actions in many U.S. cities. I am not optimistic that the regime will fall so soon, but I hope there will be a substantial turnout in those demonstrations and that they will have a political impact.
But let’s say we don’t stop the attack on Iran. It happens and we learn of it some morning soon when we switch on the TV to learn that for extremely precise missile attacks on Iran’s nuclear weapons production facilities have been underway for several hours and that the Iranian leadership has also been targeted and probably eliminated. We couldn’t prevent the criminal attack on Iraq, and haven’t been able to prevent this additional imperialist atrocity. What do we do? What’s the plan?
According to a just released Reuters poll, 70% of Americans polled oppose a ground invasion of Iran. But 26% support it! (That’s the incorrigible hardcore butthead community which thinks Saddam Hussein was involved in 9-11, things are going well in Iraq, and that horrific bloodshed in the Middle East has to happen before Jesus comes back.) 42% favor a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities so long as Israel does the deed (obviously not a moral issue for them) while 47% are opposed. While one would hope that millions of people would fill the streets the day after the Iran attack, attempting in fact to drive out that regime which so arrogantly tries to drive out others, I’m afraid the forces aren’t there. The consciousness isn’t there. Still, a good turnout this Thursday, Oct. 5, could help change the political landscape, and could just maybe constitute a dress rehearsal for the protests that will have to follow the Iran attack.
There will be actions in over 150 cities. I urge all reading this to show up at the nearest one.
is a Professor of History, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative
Religion, at Tufts University and author of numerous works on Japanese
history. He can be reached at:
Other Articles by Gary Leupp
* From Cana to
Qana: From the Wedding Then, To a Slaughter of Innocents Now
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* “Ideologies of
Hatred”? What Does Condi Mean?