David Bleidistel, Editor
Nothing short of self-respect and that justice which is essential to a national character ought to involve us in a war.
- George Washington
Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear, kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor, with the cry of ‘grave national emergency’. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not rally behind it.
- General Douglas MacArthur, 1957
THE NEXT BUSH WAR:
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In the time between President Bush’s inauguration and the beginning of his war in Iraq, there was a steady drumbeat of stories in the media that served to build up popular support for the war to a fever pitch. The stories began even before President Bush listed the “Axis of Evil” as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea (pay attention to the order). There were allegations that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. There were reports of Iraq’s development of chemical and biological weapons, particularly the use of “mobile weapons labs” that would be difficult for us to eliminate, and easy for him to hide. The term “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and its abbreviation, WMD, long used by the military, became part of the popular lexicon. Charges that Saddam was not complying with U.N. resolutions, that he had not cooperated with the weapons inspectors, and that he was hiding his various weapons programs were rampant. Links to al Queda were alleged, and purportedly verified. We became concerned that Saddam would eventually give one of his nuclear weapons to terrorists. Our President told us that Saddam represented an imminent threat against the United States. There was a strong implication that Saddam Hussein had been involved in the 9/11 attacks, although this was never said outright (and was absolutely not true). President Bush’s war in Iraq has overstretched our military, diverted resources from the real war on terror (the one against actual al Queda members), and even caused the diversion of several thousand troops from the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula (still paying attention?). The media pattern for building popular support was thus established – first the weapons programs, then a lack of cooperation with the U.N. and its weapons inspectors, then the links to al Queda, then the imminent threat posed to this country.
There is a new drumbeat now, but this beat sounds all too familiar. It started with media reports that Iran has reconstituted its nuclear weapons program (a key difference between Iran and Iraq is that Iran admits to the nuclear program, but – get this – claims it is for nuclear power plants, not for weapons use. Sure it is...). There have also been allegations of chemical and biological weapons programs. Sound familiar? The drumbeat continues. Weapons inspectors report that Iran is not being fully cooperative, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear regulatory branch, has denounced Iran for failing to disclose everything the IAEA would like. The latest reports on the nuclear issue involve Iran announcing it is building a centrifuge, but denying the centrifuge will be used for enriching uranium to weapons-grade quality. Now, recent media stories describe how key al Queda figures have long enjoyed safe passage through Iran to Afghanistan, and there have been reports that, with the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, al Queda has established even closer ties to Iran, setting up training camps and hiding al Queda leaders. The Los Angeles Times has reported that Iran is a major force behind the Iraq insurgency. CNN has run a series of stories under the heading “Iran’s New Threat”, including debates over whether we should take military action against Iran. For its part, Iran has become more and more defiant in the face of all this media attention.
Weapons programs, lack of cooperation with the U.N., links to al Queda. Only the declaration of an imminent threat to the United States was missing for this drumbeat to be complete.
And then, on August 12, 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “expressed his concern” about the new threat Iran posed to the United States; specifically, that a nation such as Iran, that has both a suspected nuclear weapons program and ties to al Queda, could end up giving a nuclear weapon to terrorists. If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, you were living in a cave during the build-up to the Iraq war. (An interesting side note: Pakistan, which is ruled by Pervez Musharref, the leader of a military coup that overthrew a democratically-elected government which had the full diplomatic recognition of the United States, also has close ties to al Queda – perhaps the closest ties of any nation other than Saudi Arabia – and it has nuclear weapons. Not a “suspected nuclear weapons program”, but actual nuclear weapons. But Pakistan is our ally, so apparently that’s OK. But what happens if Musharref is overthrown?)
One problem: our military is already stretched beyond reasonable limits, as evidenced by “stop-loss”, extended tours, and the fact that soon fully half of our troops in Iraq will be National Guard and Reservists. Due to these factors and the way this administration has treated our troops (cutting combat pay and health benefits, extending tours, making wounded soldiers pay for their meals while they recover in military hospitals, etc.) you can bet huge numbers of trained troops will leave the service as soon as they are allowed, causing a critical shortage of trained troops (with or without military action against Iran). So where would the troops to invade Iran come from? Other countries? Not bloody likely as long as George W. Bush is President. How about those 30,000 or so troops along the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula (please pay attention)? Oh yeah – they’ll all be transferred to the Iranian theater; you can count on it. But they won’t be near enough.
This leaves only one possibility: re-instating the draft. That’s right, I said the draft.
“The draft? Surely not!” you say with alarm – there is no way President Bush would reinstate the draft. Really? While I grant you he certainly won’t do it before the November 2nd election, the truth is that all bets are off after that – for one thing, he wouldn’t have his re-election to worry about anymore. Besides, ever since the Carter Administration, every male citizen in America has had to register for the draft on his 18th birthday. You didn’t think the Defense Department would go to all that trouble and never plan to implement it, did you? Still doubt it? Here’s the scary part – Congress is already working on reinstating the draft! Yep, committees in both Houses are considering the “Universal National Service Act” as I write this. This act would require all citizens – men and women – 18 to 26 years old to serve two years in either the uniformed military or “in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security.” Don’t believe me? See for yourself: click here to get to the Congressional search page, then search for “Universal National Service Act”. Furthermore, the Defense Department has already begun hiring the draft boards, and an extradition agreement has been reached with Canada – the Defense Department wants to be ready just as soon as Congress passes the “Universal National Service Act”.
It’s practically a done deal.
And after Iran? If you have to ask, you haven’t been paying attention. With no more American troops positioned between the North and South Korean armies, President Bush would have a virtually free hand to go after the third member of the “Axis of Evil”, North Korea. He plans to effect a “regime change” in North Korea, and then to re-unify the Koreas. Remember, he watched his father preside over the re-unification of Germany, and he saw the plaudits his father received for that historic occasion. This President Bush wants his own place in history, and he thinks re-unifying a long-separated people is the way to get it.
At least on this one issue (the “Axis of Evil”), President Bush has not been secretive or disingenuous – he told us from the get-go what he planned to do. He listed the countries he planned to attack, and he even told us the order in which he would attack them.
We just weren’t paying attention.
UPDATE (1/24/2006): During the second Presidential debate between President Bush and Senator John Kerry, the President referred to rumors about a military draft that had been circulating around on “the internets”. He denied that a draft was imminent, and said flat-out that “there’s not going to be a draft.” In October of 2004, just before the election, the Republican leadership in Congress brought the “Universal National Service Act” up for a vote, for the sole purpose of defeating it, in an attempt to put to rest the rumors that a draft would soon be implemented. Nothing, however, has dissuaded my belief that a war with Iran is imminent. It may take the form of missile strikes designed to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability, but if it takes the form of a U. S.- led invasion (as in Iraq), a draft remains inevitable.
Meanwhile, Iran had engaged in talks with four European countries in an effort to reach a compromise regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The United States has stayed out of the talks, but has been encouraging the Europeans from the sidelines. The talks broke down in the Fall of 2005, and the situation escalated dramatically. It hasn’t helped matters that Iran’s new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has publicly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, questioned whether the Holocaust occurred, and generally shot off his mouth at every opportunity.
Since the talks broke down, the drumbeat against Iran has continued unabated, and Iran recently broke the U.N. seals put in place by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This action, followed by Iran’s resumption of its uranium-enrichment program in defiance of the Europeans, the United States, and the U.N., has led to a call for Iran to be brought before the U.N. Security Council for disciplinary action. Iran has threatened retaliation (presumably cutting off its oil shipments) should the Security Council take any action.
UPDATE (2/4/2006): In this year’s State of the Union Address, delivered on January 31st, President Bush said, “Democracies in the Middle East will not look like our own, because they will reflect the traditions of their own citizens. Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity. The same is true of Iran, a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. The regime in that country sponsors terrorists in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon - and that must come to an end. The Iranian Government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.”
This passage is significant for three reasons: first, President Bush included all three of the factors he cited in his build-up to war in Iraq, namely potential weapons programs, a refusal to cooperate with the International Community, and connections to terrorists. Second, President Bush referred to the Iranian government as a “regime” - twice - rather than as the freely elected government chosen by the Iranian people. This was not an accident - remember the phrase “regime change”? Third, the President continued his address with a message for the Iranian people: “Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.”
If this doesn’t sound familiar, let me refresh your memory:
In his January 28th, 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush said, “Tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.”
We invaded Iraq less than two months later.
But back in that 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush also said, “Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny...”
Like it or not, the Iranian people have done just that - they have chosen their current leaders, within the last year, in what the International Community has determined were free and fair elections. Like the election victories of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and most recently Hamas in the Palestinian territories, we don’t like the result (and, in all of these cases, we have very good reasons not to like the results). But if we are truly committed to the principle that President Bush cited, namely that all people “have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny” (a philosophy espoused in the Declaration of Independence, by the way), then we have to accept the choices those people make - even if they make a horrendous choice (such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran).
We cannot advocate for free and fair elections on the one hand, but then refuse to accept the results of those elections on the other. We can certainly express concern about a government’s policies, and we can certainly bring pressure to bear to try to convince them to change those policies. That pressure can take many forms, from diplomatic to economic, and, as a last resort, military. But to choose, as a first option, to fight a war to remove a government freely chosen by a people, in order to replace that government with one of our choosing - all justified by the philosophy that the people have a right to choose their own government - would require contortions of logic that would be impossible even for this Administration, especially considering the current political climate, with questions being asked by the Congress regarding the Bush Administration’s justifications for the Iraq war.
UPDATE (3/24/2006): The case of Iran’s nuclear program has now been referred to the United Nations Security Council, which is considering sanctions. China and Russia, however, are opposed to the sanctions being proposed by the U. S. and England – they consider the sanctions too “tough” – meaning the Security Council will be powerless to do anything (both China and Russia have veto power on the Security Council). This would leave it up to a power other than the U. N. (like, say, the United States) to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has stepped up the rhetoric against Iran and its nuclear program. John Bolton, the American ambassador to the United Nations, even went so far as to point out that Iran’s nuclear network required a series of facilities to coordinate their activities, and that we wouldn’t have to hit them all – just the weakest link in the chain. Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have made similar comments. While I agree that we can not allow someone like Ahmadinejad to possess nuclear weapons, I am hoping any military action we take is in the form of missile strikes targeted on the nuclear facilities, rather than an “Operation Iraqi Freedom”-style invasion.
UPDATE (4/4/2006): In case you were wondering, the draft issue has not gone away. The Universal National Service Act of 2006, introduced in the House of Representatives on February 14th, reads, “It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of national service...”. The previous version of this bill - the one voted down in October, 2004 - included an age range of 18 to 26. This year’s version would draft people all the way up to age 42! Notice also the phrase “and every other person residing in the United States”; this would include foreign students here for extended periods, legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, and even any members of al Queda who have managed to sneak across the border...
UPDATE (10/12/06): In what could be the clearest sign yet that President Bush is planning a war against Iran, the Eisenhower Strike Group (or “Ike Strike”), which consists of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio, two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Ramage and the USS Mason, the fast-attack submarine USS Newport News, as well as a frigate and supply ship, recently received “prepare to deploy orders”, or PTDO’s, to be prepared to sail to the Persian Gulf by October 1st. This group of ships has been in their home port of Norfolk, Virginia for several years, being refurbished, having the Eisenhower’s nuclear reactor refueled, and conducting training exercises, and was not expected to be deployed until next month at the earliest, perhaps not until next Spring. These new orders tie in with reports (in TIME magazine, among others) that another group of ships, apparently the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Force, consisting of an Amphibious Assault ship, the USS Boxer, an Aegis-class cruiser, the USS Bunker Hill, two more guided-missile destroyers, the USS Benfold and the USS Howard, as well as two mine sweepers, another submarine, and other support and supply ships, had also received PTDO’s to be ready to sail for the Persian Gulf by October 1st, and that unmanned predator drones and special forces units are already operating over and inside Iran, mapping out as many as 400 possible targets for the cruise missiles and bombers. In addition, the USS Enterpise and its supporting ships are already in the Arabian Sea, where it has been launching attacks in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and has been on station there for almost six months. Having the Enterprise Strike Group, the “Ike Strike” Group, and the Expeditionary Strike Group all in the Persian Gulf region at the same time would be a massive build-up of our naval forces. Normally, the Enterprise Strike Group would head home upon the arrival of “Ike Strike”. However, if the Enterprise Strike Group does not head home as would otherwise be expected, this would serve as an indicator that something big is happening.
What does this all mean?
The “Ike Strike” group is literally bristling with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles - the exact weapon regarded as the most likely to be used to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Could we be about to start yet another war? With the mid-term elections less than a month away, and the Republican Party’s chances of holding on to their majorities in the Congress not looking good, the Bush Administration may be feeling the need for a dramatic move - an “October Surprise”; in fact Karl Rove has been promising such an “October Surprise” to conservative groups in speeches at campaign fund-raising events. Could a missile strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities be that “October Surprise”?
When he addressed the United Nations recently (the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did so), President Bush told the people of Iran “we’re working toward a diplomatic solution” and that he was looking forward “to the day when you can live in freedom.” In the same speech, however, the President said that Iran’s leaders were funding terrorism, fueling extremism, and pursuing nuclear weapons. This same dichotomy of separate messages to the people and the leaders of Iran appeared in President Bush’s State of the Union address this past January and similar statements, regarding Iraq, appeared in his State of the Union address in January of 2003, just weeks before we invaded that country. Could we be at war with Iran by November 7th?
Such a thing would be madness.
While such an attack might very well be successful in destroying Iran’s nuclear capabilities (a worthy objective, to be sure), those capabilities are not yet an urgent threat; the most generous estimates are that Iran could perhaps become capable of developing a nuclear weapon in three or four years, and most estimates say it’s probably closer to ten years. Furthermore, while the Bush Administration and its various surrogates have claimed that Iran is enriching uranium with the intention of developing nuclear weapons, it must be enriched to 90% to become “weapons-grade”; our own intelligence agencies estimate that Iran has so far only succeeded in enriching it by about 3% or 4%. There is nothing about Iran’s nuclear intentions that would necessitate a military assault for at least the next three years, and certainly not in the next four weeks.
Such an attack would also be against both United States and International Law; there has been no attempt to obtain an “Authorization to Use Military Force” (or AUMF) against Iran from the Congress, nor has there been any attempt to obtain a United Nations Security Council Resolution to authorize such an attack - and Bush would be unlikely to get either one if he tried. While President Bush has made it clear that he regards the original AUMF against al Queda, passed by the Congress shortly after the 9/11 attacks, as giving him the authority to carry the potentially endless “war on terror” whenever and wherever he sees a link to terrorists - hence his claim that the government of Iran is supporting terrorists - it would be ridiculous for him to argue that the Congress, back in the Fall of 2001, thought they were authorizing him to start a war against Iran five years later. The American people are not behind an attack, the military is already stretched too thin, and the international community is a little busy dealing with North Korea’s test of a nuclear weapon last week.
What would the likely Iranian response be? Make no mistake - there would be a response, and we won’t like it. According to retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, the Iranians would have several options: “They can activate Hezbollah; they can organize riots all over the Islamic world, including Pakistan, which could bring down the Musharraf government, putting nuclear weapons into terrorist hands; they can encourage the Shia militias in Iraq to attack US troops; they can blow up oil pipelines and shut the Persian Gulf.” They could also (and have in the past) mine the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, thus disrupting the oil supply, creating an oil crisis and skyrocketing the price of gasoline and other petroleum products. Lastly, it is important to note that the western coastline of Iran is, as one writer put it, “armed to the teeth with Chinese Silkworm antiship missiles, and possibly even more sophisticated Russian antiship weapons, against which the Navy has little reliable defenses” (Actually, our Aegis-class Cruisers can shoot down pretty much anything Iran could possibly shoot at our ships). Is the Bush Administration really prepared to risk the “Ike Strike” Group, with its many ships and thousands of sailors, for an “October Surprise” aimed merely at stopping the Democrats from winning majorities in the Houses of Congress?
It is important to remember that the Bush Administration has a history of making decisions based on ideological belief, rather than on the reality of a situation (remember how we would be welcomed in Iraq with flowers, there would be no insurgency, and how the Iraqi oil would pay for the cost of reconstruction? How about the one where Hamas had no chance of winning the Palestinian elections?). What worries me is that, if the Bush Administration believes that they can take out Iran’s nuclear program with no adverse consequences for the United States (or at least only “acceptable” consequences), they might very well convince themselves to go ahead, especially if they believe that yet another war would cause the voters to rally behind the President and the Republicans on November 7th. While the thought of Ahmedinejad having nukes scares me as much as the next guy, there is no indication that the Iranian government would sit idly by and not retaliate against such an attack - to think otherwise is just moronic. OF COURSE they will do everything in their power to retaliate.
Obviously, taking out Iran’s nuclear capability would be a good thing, but to do so just to gain votes in a domestic mid-term election would constitute a blatant abuse of power. To do so without regard to the potential consequences - and these consequences could be devastating - would be to knowingly act against the security of our nation; in other words, to aid our enemies. Last I heard, that was called treason.
Is it really possible that the Bush Administration will start another war before election day? Only time will tell, but let’s be clear: such an attack would not be about protecting us from an “urgent nuclear threat” from Iran (the real “urgent nuclear threat” is from North Korea, not from Iran); rather, such an attack would be about protecting President Bush and the Republicans from those whom they regard as the real enemy - the Democrats. We cannot allow the Bush Administration to start a war just to gain votes.
The wheels have already been set in motion; “Ike Strike” left its home port of Norfolk Virginia on October 2nd, and will arrive in the Persian Gulf on or about October 21st. My guess is that Iran will be blamed for “starting” the war by “attacking” our ships first (it would be politically impossible for Bush to be seen as starting the war). I believe that the Iranian “attack” on our ships will either be a “false flag attack” (meaning that we would stage an attack against ourselves and then blame Iran for the attack), or that there will be no actual attack at all – we will just claim there was an attack (hell, it worked in the Gulf of Tonkin…). President Bush would then be free to “retaliate” against Iran, causing Americans to rally behind their President (and his party) just in time for the mid-term elections!
Some “October Surprise”, huh?
So what can we do? We can do whatever it takes to stop this war from starting; the best strategy to prevent it is probably a public outcry before any attack takes place. We must take action: shout it from the mountaintops - write your Senators and Representatives in the Congress, write “letters to the editor” of your local newspaper, call in to radio shows, hold rallies and demonstrations, conduct phone campaigns, and anything else you can think of to get the word out.
There is not much time; “Ike Strike” is expected to arrive in the Persian Gulf, along the western coastline of Iran, on or about October 21st - less than two weeks from now.
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ã 2004 and 2006 David Bleidistel. All rights reserved.