Sunday, September 30, 2007

Three big questions

1. Why did Israel bomb Syria? According to Jonathan Cook, in his September 27th article, it could be an opening shot for a war on Iran. “…[T]he political significance of the justifications for the Israeli air strike is that both neatly tie together various strands of an argument needed by the neocons and Israel in making their case for an attack on Iran before Bush leaves office in early 2009. Each scenario suggests a Shia ‘axis of evil’, coordinated by Iran, that is actively plotting Israel's destruction. And each story offers the pretext for an attack on Syria as a prelude to a pre-emptive strike against Tehran -- launched either by Washington or Tel Aviv -- to save Israel.”

2. Why did Saddam Hussein want to take WMD papers with him into exile? In his September 28th post, Bush-Aznar Transcript: The War Crime of the Century, Juan Cole states, “…[T]he documents presumably showed that the Reagan and Bush senior administrations had secretly authorized his chemical and biological weapons programs. With these documents in his possession, it was unlikely that Bush would come after him, since he could ruin the reputation of the Bush family if he did. The destruction of these documents was presumably Bush's goal when he had Rumsfeld order US military personnel not to interfere with the looting and burning of government offices after the fall of Saddam. The looting, which set off the guerrilla war, also functioned as a vast shredding party, destroying incriminating evidence about the complicity of the Bushes and Rumsfeld in Iraq's war crimes.”

3. What is standing in the way of a U.S. attack on Iran? On September 28th, Glenn Greenwald posted The U.S. military's role in preventing the bombing of Iran: “What is most striking about all of this is that even after all of this time, even after it has become more or less conventional wisdom that the Iraq War is an unparalleled disaster, no real political checks on their extremism exist. The Cheney-led neoconservatives are still the most powerful force, by far, in the American government….

“So that is the environment in which the U.S. military seems to be taking a defiant stand against the neoconservative radicals in our government -- one in which all other political checks are far too broken and weak, if not supportive, to do anything to stop them in their ongoing Middle East war march. Steve Clemons' recent, much-discussed article in Salon emphasized the role military commanders have played in insisting that a military strike against Iran would be disastrous. And Clemons cited this post from Time's Joe Klein which reported that the Joint Chiefs, when asked last December by Bush about air strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, were ‘unanimously opposed to taking that course of action,’ and they warned that ‘the Iranian response in Iraq and, quite possibly, in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating.’

“I'm far from convinced that, as Clemons and Klein both suggest, these warnings have persuaded President Bush that he cannot pursue a military confrontation with Iran. That is not how Bush works. When he is convinced that there is a moralistic imperative to his actions, he will pursue it even in the face of military opposition….

“Bush asked the Chiefs [Joint Chiefs] about the wisdom of a troop ‘surge’ in Iraq. They were unanimously opposed.

“…[F]or Bush, remaining in Iraq is the Right Thing, so Bush ignored the military's advice and replaced the top Generals with David Petraeus, who told him what he wanted to hear. Bush continues to believe that Iran is part of the "Axis of Evil" and that his legacy depends upon destroying that regime, and particularly stopping them from acquiring nuclear weapons, no matter what the cost. It is hard to envision Bush accepting the notion that he cannot bomb Iran. The central lesson of this presidency has been that Bush does not accept limits of any kind on his decision-making powers -- whether such limits are grounded in the law or in the basic constraints of reality.”

(question mark: University of Northern Iowa library)

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