The Iran Attack and Aftermath

“Whoopie! We’re All Gonna Die!”

“Yes. We’re going to hit Iran, big time. Whatever political discussions that are going on is window dressing and perhaps even a red herring. I see what’s going on below deck here in the hangars and weapons bays. And I have a sick feeling about how it’s all going to turn out.”

— a Landing Signal Officer in an aircraft carrier attack group, in the Gulf of Hormuz, in a telephone call to a friend quoted in an article posted then removed from the internet September 13, 2007.

There’s every indication that the Bush administration intends to attack Iran before leaving office. The military preparations are in full swing. According to former CIA official Philip Giraldi, writing in the American Conservative in July 2005, “The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons… As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing–that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack–but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.”

(That last observation may no longer pertain. The London Sunday Times reported in February 2007 that “up to five [U.S.] generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.” According to Inter-Press Service (May 15, 2007) Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command, has “vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking.” But Cheney and the neoconservatives shaping Middle East policy, few of whom have any military experience, seem unmoved by the brass’s alarm at the ramifications of an Iran attack.)

Two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups are in the Gulf, and there has been talk of sending a third (although Fallon has opposed this too provocative). The U.S. is constructing a new military base on the Iran-Iraq border. Several hundred British troops who expected to return home as Britain withdraws from Basra have instead been redeployed to the border at U.S. request.

The propaganda campaign is in full gear. An attack is being justified for two principle reasons, although a host of anti-Iran allegations ranging from psy-ops disinformation (like the story planted in the North American press in May 2006 that the Iranian parliament was planning to badge Jews) to the cherry-picking of facts: Iran is (1) pursuing a nuclear weapons program in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (to which, unlike nuclear Israel, Pakistan and India, it is a signatory); and (2) is assisting “insurgents” in Iraq, both Sunni and Shiite, especially by providing them with explosively formed projectiles (EFP) used against U.S. troops.

How closely it resembles the last great propaganda blitz preparatory to the attack on Iraq! Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy and one of the chief architects of that crime, admitted in an interview in May 2003 that the Bush administration had made a political decision to justify the attack by focusing on the issue of Iraq’s (non-existent) WMD: “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason.” We know from the “Downing Street memo” that British intelligence had concluded by July 2002 that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed [by the Bush administration around the policy.” In other words, the Bush administration, through its spooky “Office of Special Plans” under neocon Douglas Feith, and via agents in the press such as the New York Times’ Judith Miller, was disseminating disinfomation designed to terrify the American people into supporting what was entirely a war of choice. The coordinated repetition of the warning about a “mushroom cloud over New York City” was much in the spirit of the Nazi propaganda efforts of the 1930s.

“Naturally, the common people do not want war,” Herman Goering said during the Nuremberg trials, “but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” In carefully contrived speeches the Fuhrer built the case for war on Poland, that gathering threat to the German people, their homeland, their Reich. It worked. The neocons understand this very well.

Vice President Dick Cheney again plays a central role, along with his coterie of neoconservative aides and allies. He’s claimed for years that Iran doesn’t need a nuclear program, period. Since it has so much oil, it can only have one reason — the desire for nuclear weapons — to pursue its current, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-monitored program. But Cheney must know that when Gerald Ford was president (with Cheney as his White House chief of staff), the U.S. actively encouraged Iran (then a close U.S. ally under the Shah) to develop a nuclear power program. The reasons were clear then as now: Iran’s oil will run out in decade; Tehran would rather sell it than consume it, using the profits to abet diversified development; and nuclear power is cleaner. This doesn’t mean today’s Iran doesn’t want nuclear weapons; as Robert Gates told the Senate during his confirmation hearing as Defense Secretary, the Iranians “are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons — Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us [the United States] in the Persian Gulf.” Such an aspiration would be understandable. On the other hand, while the Shah once boasted that Iran would one day have nuclear weapons, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons as contrary to Islam, and the regime has pledged that Iran shall never acquire such weapons. Current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly reiterated this position. But President Bush claimed in August 2007, “…this is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon.” That is either a reflection of ignorance encouraged by others in his administration, or a bald-faced lie.

The crux of the administration’s case is that Iran concealed some nuclear research activity from the 1980s, and that this concealment can only be evidence for prohibited military research. (It should be noted that other countries have concealed such activities. South Korea separated some bomb-grade plutonium in 1982 without informing the IAEA, and in 2000 enriched a small amount of uranium in 2000 to a level close to weapons use. But the U.S. never mobilized its allies to impose sanctions on Seoul!) Iran has conceded some violations of the NPA rules. It had suspended the U.S.-backed nuclear program after the revolution, due to the Khomeini government’s opposition to nuclear technology and because many nuclear scientists had fled the country. But it resumed the program from the late 1980s with Chinese, Pakistani, and Soviet help. It concealed some activities from the IAEA, but when the concealment was revealed in 2003 (by an Iranian opposition group that was then and remains on the State Department’s “terrorist” list), Iran agreed to submit to the most intrusive inspections ever applied by UN inspectors.

Again, Iran is a signatory of the NPA. It’s allowed by the treaty to pursue a civilian nuclear program and to master the nuclear cycle, including the enrichment of uranium, under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA is headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the most highly respected UN officials and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He is a highly trained scientist, not an agent of U.S. foreign policy, and year after year he has reported he’s found no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Earlier, during the build-up to the Iraq War, he rejected U.S. claims about Iraqi WMD and discredited the Niger uranium allegation Bush had made in his 2003 state of the union address. For this he has incurred the wrath of the Bush administration — no friend of science in general.

(Recall how a “senior advisor” to Bush told journalist Ron Suskind in summer 2002 that people like Suskind were “in what we call the reality-based community” — people who ‘”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” But, he claimed, “’That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” This mentality can only be compared to the 1930s fascists’ celebration of “the triumph of the will” over reason. More recently Robert Draper in his book Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush has quoted Bush himself as stating, “You can’t learn lessons by reading. Or at least I couldn’t. I learned by doing.” I doubt he reads IAEA reports or even the U.S. intelligence reports that indicate Iran is a decade away from the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon. By all indications he doesn’t want to read anything that might challenge what he plans to do.)

In 2005 the Washington Post revealed that the administration had intercepted dozens of phone calls between ElBaradei and Iranian diplomats in an effort to undermine his position. Still, he was reelected as IAEA Director General that year after the U.S. — the only country opposing him — grudgingly withdrew its opposition. But U.S. efforts to undermine him continue.

Alongside the fear-mongering related to Iran’s nuclear program, there has been a concerted campaign to vilify Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, beginning immediately after his election to office in August 2005. First it was widely reported in the U.S. press that he had been a leader of the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah and the U.S. refusal to extradite him for trial in Iran. The CIA has discounted that claim. Then Ahmadinejad was reported as stating that “Israel will be wiped off the map,” while the correct translation of his words (quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, who died in 1989) was that the “Zionist occupation of Jerusalem” would “vanish from the page of time.” This was in a speech in which he spoke by way of comparison about how the USSR and Saddam’s Iraq had vanished from history. He has certainly not helped his own image by his Holocaust denials, which have been rejected by former president Ayatollah Khatami and some other Iranian leaders. But the bogus quote has been endlessly repeated in the press, and cleverly linked to the nuclear program. Iran, the argument runs, is rushing to produce nuclear weapons so that it can bomb Israel off the map, kill half the world’s Jews and succeed where the Nazis failed. Bush all but states as much in his recent speech to the American Legion, in which he warned, “Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.” Nuclear holocaust. Frightening, sensationalist words, rather like “mushroom cloud over New York.”

The president has not acknowledged that in May 2003 the government of Iran through the Swiss ambassador to the country sent a letter to the U.S. State Department proposing a dialogue “in mutual respect” concerning, among other major item’s. “full transparency for security that there are no Iranian endeavors to develop or possess WMD;” “stop of any material support to Palestinian opposition groups (Hamas, Jihad, etc.) from Iranian territory, pressure on these groups to stop any violent action on civilians within borders of 1967;” “action on Hizbollah to become a mere political organization within Lebanon;” and “acceptance of the Arab League Beirut Declaration” calling for a two-state solution in the Middle East. That remarkable offer was positively received by Colin Powell’s State Department, but according to Powell’s former chief of staff, indeed rejected summarily by Cheney who rebuked the Swiss ambassador for even passing along such a communication! Cheney has stated his own preference clearly: “We don’t negotiate with evil, we destroy it.”

In this same month, members of the U.S. wrestling team arrived in Iran at Tehran’s invitation to compete in Iran’s Takhti Cup. They received a warm reception and there were suggestions that the visit might produce some “ping-pong diplomacy” comparable to what had happened between the U.S. and China in 1971. In February 2003 Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage had described Iran as a “democracy” (i.e., it has competing political parties and hotly contested elections). The neocons ridiculed him for his statement, redoubling their efforts to isolate Iran and effect “regime change. By that time, as Powell later recounted to Bob Woodward, Cheney and Rumsfeld had constituted a “separate little government” sidestepping the State Department.

Among the most important players in the anti-Iran effort was John Bolton, posted under Powell in the State Department as its most forceful neocon presence and Bush nominee for the post of United Nations ambassador in 2005. As Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, he had told the Heritage Foundation in May 2002 that Cuba had a program to produce offensive biological weapons. (Powell dissociated himself from the baseless accusation.) Bolton’s approach to arms control issues was clarified in September 2002 when he was quoted in the London Guardian as declaring, “We tolerate nuclear weapons in Israel for the same reason we tolerate them in Britain and France. We don’t regard Israel as a threat.” Bolton’s testimony before Congress about Syria’s WMD programs had to be repeatedly rescheduled as intelligence officials disputed his claims, and amid reports of his history of bullying he became so discredited among legislators that they refused to confirm his appointment to the UN. He acquired the post anyway through a “recess appointment” lasting to December 2006. During that time he worked tirelessly to win a Security Council resolution against Iran that might serve as a fig leaf for U.S. military action.

In September 2005 the IAEA (a body with 35 national representatives, permanent and alternating) produced a report censuring Iran as “in non-compliance” with the NPT and calling on the Security Council to take action. NATO voted as a bloc. Algeria, Brazil, China, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen opposed or abstained. It was a significant triumph for Bolton’s bullying “diplomacy.” The report was sent to the Security Council for action and Iran was ordered to suspend its nuclear enrichment program. It refused, protesting that it has the right to enrich under the NPT. Sanctions have now been applied twice, but recently ElBaradei has suggested that the UNSC demand has been “overtaken by events.” Having recently negotiated an agreement with Iran whereby the latter agrees to answer all outstanding IAEA questions about its nuclear program by November, he is now under fire from critics for not taking a hard enough line against Iran. He walked out of a recent IAEA session recently to protest a speech by an European Union representative that failed to support his efforts.

The U.S. is pressing the EU to facilitate an Iran attack by intensifying pressure on Iran to stop its enrichment program or face “consequences.” It’s receiving cooperation from the new French administration. It is as though Paris having incurred Washington’s wrath for its rational opposition to the Iraq war wishes to make amends by embracing an equally irrational attack on Iran under the new “pro-American” Sarkozy government. On the other hand there are reports that Germany will oppose further sanctions on Iran, and that Cheney and his neocons find in this decision welcome justification to abandon the UN-centered diplomatic route to move towards an attack.

On May 30 the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece by Commentary editor-in-chief Norman Podhoretz literally “praying” for the bombing of Iran. (The next day ElBaradei referred to “new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran,’” adding that he did not want to see another war like the one in Iraq.) Podhoretz has now been hired as a Middle East policy advisor by Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Bolton later said (not that this should surprise anyone) then said his “preference is for regime change” rather than diplomacy. Their main rationale is that the world cannot allow Iran to proceed with its nuclear program.

The second major charge against the Islamic Republic is that it is abetting the Iraqi “insurgency.” The most obvious argument to the contrary is that the Iraqi government ushered into power by the U.S. occupation actually has warm, close ties with Tehran. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki recently stated that Iran is doing “positive and constructive” work in “providing security and fighting terrorism” in his country. (Bush in response warned last month: “I will have to have a heart to heart [talk] with my friend, the prime minister, because I don’t believe [the Iranians] are constructive. . . . My message to him is, when we catch you playing a non-constructive role, there will be a price to pay.”) The administration has charged that Iran is aiding both the Sunni “insurgents” and the members of various Shiite militias. But the Sunnis tend to detest the Iranians, as Shiites and supporters of a Shiite-dominated regime. Meanwhile the Shiite militias include those supporting the government (deeply involved in the Interior Ministry in particular), opposing it or working with or against it depending on circumstances. Competing Shiite factions in Iraq (the only large Shiite-majority Arab country) inevitably have ties to Iran, the neighboring country with whom they share a long history. It could not possibly be otherwise.

U.S. and Iranian diplomats have met twice in Baghdad, in March and May 2007, in talks the neocons have opposed but may see as (to quote Podhoretz) “giving futility a chance.” Their predictable failure might allow the U.S. to say, “We went that extra mile to work for a peaceful solution, but it didn’t work.” The talks have occurred at the urging of the Iraqi regime, which has repeatedly said it doesn’t want Iraq to be a battleground in a U.S.-Iranian quarrel. Baghdad has also protested the occupiers’ arrest of Iranian diplomatic personnel whom it had invited to the country. It is humiliating for the Iraqi puppets, and a provocation of Tehran. But the U.S. continues to hold Iranians seized from the Iranian consulate in Irbil last December, provoking the indignation of the Iraqi foreign minister and President Jalal Talabani. It accuses them of links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and to support for armed actions against U.S. forces in Iraq. The Bush administration, heedless of the Iraqi to maintain friendly ties with Tehran, seems hell-bent on provoking Iran, while imputing its own failure to restore stability to the country to “Iranian interference.” I must doubt that the average Iraqi views Iran as “interfering” on anywhere near the scale the U.S. has interfered in the country since 2003.

The State Department is publicly mulling over the prospect of blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards as a “terrorist organization.” This would be an extraordinary step, and reportedly alarms European allies. The Guards were established after the 1979 revolution, as the Islamic regime took shape. Uncertain of the loyalty of the existing Iranian military trained under the Shah, the mullahs in power created a new, religiously zealous force that now numbers some 125,000 troops within the Iranian military. They fought with distinction during the Iran-Iraq War, when of course the U.S. was assisting Saddam in his aggression against Iran. The State Department list includes many who ought not be there, but this would be the first time that a division of the military of a state were so described. The justification would probably emphasize the Guards’ alleged role in training Lebanon’s Shiite Hizbollah militia (which the U.S. has branded “terrorist” although it enjoys huge popularity in Lebanon) and its provision of EFP to the Iraqi resistance. The evidence for the latter is meager, and indeed questioned by some mainstream journalists and intelligence analysts. This listing has the ominous implication that Revolutionary Guards captured in warfare would not be covered by Geneva Convention rules relating to the treatment of captured soldiers.

* * * * *

The New Yorker Magazinerecently reported that Cheney gave “instructions” for the dissemination of propaganda in favor of a strike against Iran in the media outlets that cooperate most closely with the administration: “the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects” will undertake a “heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained.” Fox in particular has indeed featured a steady line-up of neocon war advocates, including the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol and National Review’s Michael Ledeen, according them the most deferential treatment and indeed, disseminating propaganda as predicted.

Meanwhile the political class has generally closed ranks around an Iran attack, encouraged by the AIPAC lobby. After receiving some boos during a speech to AIPAC in March, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi withdrew a provision in the military spending bill that would have required Bush to receive Congressional authorization for an attack on Iran. In July the Senate unanimously passed Sen. Joe Lieberman’s amendment calling on the U.S. to “confront” Iran. Clinton and Obama compete to assert a hard line against Iran, declaring with the Republicans that “no option should be left off the table” in denying Iran the right to enrich uranium. Despite the unpopularity of the Iraq War and popular recognition that it was based on lies, and polls showing that two-thirds of Americans oppose U.S. military action against Iran, there is little organized resistance to these military preparations, the propaganda war, or the bipartisan complicity in the Bush-Cheney attack plans. The New Yorker article indicates that Cheney & Co. “evidently. . . .don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this — they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is ‘plenty.’”

What better expression of the contempt this administration feels for popular opinion, and the arrogance underlying its mad grab for supremacy over the entire Middle East! But I fear that they might be right. They might not need more than minimal public support. They might get their way, and launch the attack ElBaradei calls “crazy.” And then what? The Bush base — the Lobby, the Christian Zionists, and part of the military-industrial complex will cheer, even if — maybe particularly if — the assault makes the “Shock & Awe” campaign in Iraq in 2003 look like a mere fireworks display. But how will the Iranians react?

* * * * *

The neocons continuously allege that the Iranians are the “most pro-American” people in the Middle East. That’s not saying much, given the loathing felt throughout the region for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the increasingly bloody occupation of Afghanistan, and the green light Washington offers the Israelis for attacks on Lebanon and expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. But they argue that Iranians admire the U.S. and will, in the wake of the coming attack — targeting not just nuclear facilities and military targets but the mullahs’ regime itself — topple any leader left standing. Then, with help from the apparatus of U.S. agents in place, they will establish a pro-U.S. regime. We will return to the halcyon days when Iran was America’s playground and the Shah its ever-cooperative gendarme of the Gulf. That’s their fantasy.

But a poll of Iranian public opinion conducted in late 2006 by, in partnership with Search for Common Ground and the U.S. Institute for Peace explodes this deceptive depiction. It shows that 65% of Iranians have a “very unfavorable” view of the U.S. 11% have a “somewhat unfavorable” view, and only 22% have a favorable view. 84% have a very unfavorable view of the current U.S. government, 9% unfavorable, and 5% favorable. Even American culture draws poor reviews: 67% view it very unfavorably, 11% somewhat unfavorably, and only 17% favorably. (So much for the notion that the appeal of Hollywood and hip-hop—which by the way don’t necessarily promote neocon values—might facilitate the reintegration of Iran into the U.S. camp.) Views of the American people were most interesting. 36% have a “somewhat favorable” feeling about Americans, 9% “very favorable,” but 16% “somewhat unfavorable” and 33% “very unfavorable.” So 45% favorable as opposed to 49% unfavorable in this “most pro-American country” in the Middle East.

Iranians are by all accounts ardent nationalists, proud of a history that dates to the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great over two and a half millennia ago. Heirs to a glorious culture that long predated the Arab conquest and advent of Islam, they are aware of and proud of their past. They are proud of their country’s nuclear energy program. 84% according to the poll think it “very important” for Iran to have full fuel cycle nuclear program; 9% say it’s just “somewhat important.” 76% give as the most important reason for that program “to secure Iran’s energy needs.” An attack on their country targeting this program will only produce outrage. Justified as a move to prevent a “nuclear Holocaust” and to protect nuclear-armed Israel, it will only deepen Iranian hostility towards Israel.

What can these attack advocates be thinking? That a tactical nuclear attack will so terrorize the Iranian people and those who will identify with them (notably the majority Shiite population in Iraq) that they will crumple like the stripped, dehumanized Abu Ghraib torture victim cowering on the ground as a dog snarls in his face? That U.S.-administered terror can neutralize hatred, the lust for revenge, religious rage? More likely they know exactly what they’re doing. They know Iran is not Japan, hit with atomic weapons in August 1945, promptly surrendering, passively submitting to occupation. Japan was a unique nation-state, defeated after a disastrous war of aggression its people blamed on hated militarists. Its people were able to understand occupation as their national karma, and to pragmatically make the best of it. Iran is a country linked to a world of a billion Muslims, with ongoing historical grievances against western imperialism, that has never in modern history invaded another country. It is a country of Shiites, whose religious mindset is all about historical victimization and has acquired spiritual tools to respond to it. If the U.S. bombs “big time” it will not produce an ally, an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” like Japan, but an enemy irreconcilable until such time as the American people renounce the infamy and hold the appropriate war crimes trials. The Japanese kamikaze disappeared after the Pacific War and came to be seen as pathetic examples of patriotic fanaticism. The Iranian kamikaze have yet to be born but a nuclear attack with surely generate them, like the monstrous vegetation that after a time sprouted around Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the irradiation.

The neocons may well anticipate that the Iran attack will result in retaliatory strikes — “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” pitting the entire Muslim world against the U.S. as it has been pitted for 60 years against Israel. They may well anticipate that suicide bombings, mini-9/11s, will regularly punctuate American life, causing the masses to turn — in their beautifully exploitable primitive fear — to their wise leadership, exercised from their bunkers and undisclosed locations against the evil-doing Enemies who “hate our freedoms.”

* * * * *

Recall the news story of the Israeli “art students” who were questioned by New York City police after they were observed rejoicing as they viewed the burning of the Twin Towers on 9-11. According to James Bamford, a journalist specializing in intelligence and winner of the 2006 National Magazine Award for writing, and Vincent Cannistraro, a high-ranking former CIA official and consultant on terrorism for ABC News, the “students” were part of an Israeli spy ring engaged in electronic interception of radical Muslims in the U.S. “According to the police report,” reported ABC in June 2002, “one of the passengers told the officers they had been on the West Side Highway in Manhattan ‘during the incident’ — referring to the World Trade Center attack. The driver of the van, Sivan Kurzberg, told the officers, ‘We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.’”

Of course, there were no Palestinians involved in the 9-11 attacks. But this statement, “Your problems are our problems” ought to provoke some thought. There are crazy people in this world who can look at burning towers and rejoice at how such burnings bring the right sort of people together. The above-mentioned Ledeen (an Iran specialist who was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, is widely suspected of involvement in the Niger uranium document forgeries, and works closely with Syrian and Iranian exiles to topple their governments) wrote in December 2001 in the National Review: “We need to sustain our game face, we must keep our fangs bared, we must remind them [‘our enemies in the Middle East’] daily that we Americans are in a rage, and we will not rest until we have avenged our dead, we will not be sated until we have had the blood of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away, and every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle.” He’d earlier written in his 1995 book Universal Fascism: “In order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to ‘enter into evil.’ This is the chilling insight that has made Machiavelli so feared, admired and challenging… [W]e [ordinary people] are rotten. . . . It’s true that we can achieve greatness if, and only if, we are properly led.”

In 2002, while working with the Office of Special Plans to prepare the case for war on Iraq, Ledeen wrote in National Review: “One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists.” In February 2005 he again groaned, “Faster, please!” urging the administration to more urgently topple the mullahs. You can bet he’ll be repeating this on Fox News until it happens.

This is the mentality of many at the highest levels of the Bush administration. Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams (another one of the officials convicted then pardoned in the Iran-Contra scandal) is another key Iran attack advocate. Eliot Cohen, appointed Counselor of the State Department earlier this year, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on November 20, 2001 that :

Afghanistan constitutes just one front in World War IV, and the battles there just one campaign. . . . the U.S. should throw its weight behind pro-Western and anticlerical forces there. The immediate choice lies before the U.S. government in regard to Iran. We can either make tactical accommodations with the regime there in return for modest (or illusory) sharing of intelligence, reduced support for some terrorist groups and the like, or do everything in our power to support a civil society that loathes the mullahs and yearns to overturn their rule. It will be wise, moral and unpopular (among some of our allies) to choose the latter course. The overthrow of the first theocratic revolutionary Muslim state and its replacement by a moderate or secular government, however, would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of bin Laden.

(Note that this was before any of the accusations currently hurled against Iran were even being leveled by U.S. officials. It was a plain cold-blooded plea for the administration to use 9-11 to target a country unrelated to the attacks.)

These men seem prepared to trigger the Armageddon that the Christian Zionist fundamentalists yearn for with a fervor rivaled only by the religious yearning for martyrdom experienced by the Muslim jihadist fanatic. They have no moral qualms about “turning the region into a cauldron” if that abets what they consider U.S. and Israeli interests.

* * * * *

It all makes me remember the 1967 classic “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish. Just substitute “Iran” for “Vietnam.”

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We’re gonna have a whole lotta fun.

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Iran;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! We’re all gonna die.

I share the Landing Signal Officer’s sick feeling. But I think the crazies, who think World War IV is upon us, are indeed gonna have a whole lotta fun — while the world continues to recoil in horror at the pain they inflict. I don’t know how best to oppose them. They seem to have the Congress and corporate media in their pocket, and while the best and most serious of the antiwar organizations are making Iran a central issue, consciousness lags painfully even among those dead against the war in Iraq.

“Yes. We’re gonna hit Iran, big time,” says the Landing Signal Officer on the carrier in the Gulf.

“You will open the gates of Hell,” say the Iranians. In which case I can only ask, with Marlowe:

Lives there who loves his pain,

Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,

Though thither doomed?

We can do better than to allow this sort of craziness in this world. We need to break loose from this Hell and throw the crazies out.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Gary.

8 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 17th, 2007 at 6:52am #

    That the world is being propelled headlong towards Armaggedon by a virulently racist state, driven by an ideology of racial supremacy, to the rest of humanity in general, but to the Moslems of the Middle East in particular, would be mad and bad enough, but the cowardice of popular opinion is even more lamentable. Naturally this gutlessness is partly the result of ferocious indoctrination. In Australia, the Murdoch flagship ‘The Fundament’ (‘the arse-hole of the nation’ ) is running a near demented campaign against the other big newspaper oligarch the Fairfax Group. Fairfax is hardly any less biased towards Israel and against the Arabs than the rest of the media. Its journalists, particularly the Jewish ones (not many Chomskys amongst them, just the usual Likudnicks) openly demonise Iran and spread the now familiar lies. Apparently the millions killed in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan have not yet slaked their blood-lust. However, next to News Ltd, where an insane fanaticism suffuses every commentary on Israel and the Middle East, Fairfax does occasionally practice ‘appeasement’. Its journalists every now and then infer that Palestinians might be humans, that their perpetual imprisonment and humiliation might not necessarily be yet further evidence of Israel’s ‘moral purity’. This brings down on their heads a fury of denunciation of bias and, of course, anti-Semitism. This process seems to have no end. Any position but utter obeisance to Israel, and complete condemnation of the Arabs, Palestinians in particular (arch-Quisling Abbas currently, and temporarily, excepted)is motivated by hatred of the Jews, and those uttering the profanities are clearly closet Nazis, lusting to open new Auschwitzes. The level of bellicose arrogance of the local pro-Israeli bully-boys and girls is steadily increasing, as the attack on Iran looms. Has there ever been such a collective loss of mental and moral equilibrium, and such moral cowardice as the complete capitulation to the forces of race hatred that have brought us the genocide in Iraq, and are just itching to repeat the horrors in Iran?

  2. Binh said on September 17th, 2007 at 7:07am #

    The Senate has already voted 97-0 (meaning every single Democrat, Obama, Hillary, etc) for war with Iran:

  3. Shabnam said on September 17th, 2007 at 6:42pm #

    The propaganda machine of the west is working hard to fabricate “evidence” to convince
    The gullible people that Iran is a security tread. One of these stories is lies related to EFP As Javad Zarif, the former Iran ambassador to the UN explained on Charlie Rose show that evidence related to Iran involvement in killing soldiers with EFP is without merit because that evidence showed that these EFP were dated according to American system and not Iranian. Iranian like European bring days before months contrary to the American system where bring month before day.
    We should not surrendered ourselves to the vision of few fascists in Washington and their associates who reserve the right to kill for their interests. Enough is enough. Therefore, it is necessary to take the threat of war very seriously and STOP FUNDING THE WAR BY NOT WORKING ONE DAY EVERY WEEK UNTIL THE OCCUPIERS GET OUT OF IRAQ. The fascists are united against humanity, so we should do the same and be united against the evil force of our time.
    American must take responsibilities because it is not acceptable anymore to hide behind a statement such as: WE DON’T HAVE POWER. No one is going to give you that kind of power, you have to create it yourself, and especially knowing that ceremonial election in the FAILED STATE, America, is not going to bring any meaningful changes.

  4. Brit Pat said on September 18th, 2007 at 2:45pm #

    …How many dead in the Middle East now….
    We really are the Bad guys,
    how in hell did it get to this…….
    This is Lunacy, sheer Madness

  5. Timber said on September 18th, 2007 at 9:00pm #

    I can’t get past the premise of the sailor/former Marine’s premise that she was on the tip of the sword “defending America” by sitting on an aircraft carrier on the other side of the world.

    I also can’t get past her apparent belief that it’s just common sense that a person in the military would rather participate in unprovoked mass murder–and I really don’t care anymore how small a cog in the machine they are–than have a military career “pulled out from under them.” Would we nod in sympathy with a college professor who went on a killing spree to retain tenure, or a junior executive who burned down an apartment building full of people to maintain his seniority?

    If we’re to be encouraged by the idea that a few sailors are whispering to each other that maybe, just maybe it’s wrong to nuke Iran, our expectations of our military personnel, our fellow citizens, and our fellow human beings have really gone into the toilet.

  6. Benjamin said on September 19th, 2007 at 3:30pm #

    Well researched article.

    It may be too long for the “paris hilton” obsessed media to handle as their craniums might explode past the first 30 seconds of thought. It is however, a very important article that I wish would have been published in the mainstream media.

    The mistranslation of the phrase “wipe out Israel” when it was “the Zionist regime in Jerusalem will be in the dustbins of history” (the dustbin is a common Tehrani expression, the American equivalent of the something belonging to the dustbins of history is “This too, shall pass” not this too shall be annihilated as translated” has troubled me for some time. I mean, how come none of the media outlets from the liberal to the conservative noticed the grand error in translation. Irish, South African, and English news papers have commented on the topic. Then I realized that every time Ahmadinejad is mentioned in the western press , it reads something like this: ….. blah blah blah something “wiped off the map” something blah blah blah. It dawned on me. The quote is out of context on purpose, and nobody is going to (or is allowed to) ask or print the WHOLE sentence.

    The regime in Iran may very well be evil or whatever they say they are, but so is lying and disinformation, and we seem to be doing it more and more, in the name of “safety”.

  7. gerald spezio said on September 19th, 2007 at 5:38pm #

    Gary, most of my friends aren’t overly concerned about the distinct possibility that Iran will be attacked.
    I am not an alarmist , but this is looking more and more like the end of the entire world.
    What fat chance is there to throw the bastards out when Joe Lieberman’s Bill to confront Iran waltzes through the Senate, 97 – 0?

  8. Mike McNiven said on September 21st, 2007 at 1:50pm #

    As the Iranian Left see the situation: