Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fear for Iran

Below is a hodge-podge of links to articles about the U.S.’s targeting Iran. My fear that the U.S. will attack Iran keeps me awake at night. I’m not sure I can make sense of the following comments and opinions, so I hope you can.

First is Tony Karon’s April 7th post at Rootless Cosmopolitan, "The Perils of a Banker's War on Iran." Tony believes that “The neocons are not going to get their war with Iran….They’ve lost the Pentagon, and it’s abundantly clear that neither the uniformed brass nor Defense Secretary Gates have any interest in starting another catastrophic war….Nor is there any significant support (outside of Israel) among U.S. allies for a confrontational path.”

However, Karon observes that there’s a “privatized” war against Iran going on, one that isn’t covered in the mainstream media, and is being handled by the U.S. Department of Treasury through its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN):“[D]edicated to fighting the ‘war on terror’ via the international banking system.” On March 20th, FinCEN issued an “[A]dvisory warning [to] the international banking community that doing business with any Iranian bank, or bank that does business with an Iranian bank, runs the risk of falling afoul of the U.S. Treasury’s expansive interpretation and enforcement of UN sanctions and of anti-terror money laundering regulations adopted under the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act.”

Second: General Petraeus’s comments today and yesterday before Congressional committees about Iran’s involvement in the war in Iraq:

A. On April 7th, Gareth Porter posted "Petraeus Testimony to Defend False 'Proxy War' Line." “Based on preliminary indications of his spin on the surprisingly effective armed resistance to the joint U.S.-Iraqi "Operation Knights Assault" in Basra, Petraeus will testify that it was caused by Iran through a group of rogue militiamen who had split off from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and came under Iranian control. “

B. Yesterday, Gary Kamiya, who blogs for posted "The Iran boogeyman is back - Gen. Petraeus is reportedly going to blame Iran for why we need to stay in Iraq. If he does, it'll be destructive propaganda." “It's blame-blame-blame, blame-blame Iran. We've heard this song before. The Bush administration warbles it every time it needs to justify its failed Iraq policies and rally a skeptical public. Evil Iran, our archenemy, a charter member of the Axis of Evil, is killing American troops, and we can't leave Iraq, or Ahmadinejad and his cronies will take over the whole country. It's an updated version of the Cold War ‘domino effect’ argument, with Iran taking the place of the communist menace….

“There's just one problem with this story: It's nonsense.”

C. Were Porter and Kamiya right? Yes, according to David Ignatius, who wrote today in his Washington Post opinion column, “The language that Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker used yesterday to describe the Iranian role in Iraq was extreme -- and telling. They spoke of Tehran's 'nefarious activities,' its 'malign influence' and how it posed 'the greatest long-term threat to the viability' of the Baghdad government.

"Iran was the heart of the matter during Senate testimony on the war. With al-Qaeda on the run in Iraq, the Iranian threat has become the rationale for the mission, and also the explanation for our shortcomings. The Iranians are the reason we're bogged down in Iraq, and also the reason we can't pull out our troops. The mullahs in Tehran loom over the Iraq battlefield like a giant Catch-22….

"Fighting a war against Iran is a bad idea. But fighting a proxy war against it in Iraq, where many of our key allies are manipulated by Iranian networks of influence, may be even worse."

Third is Scott Ritter, who spoke before a group at Middlebury College in Vermont last week, as reported by the Rutland Herald. Ritter believes there is an 80 percent chance of war with Iran. He ticked off the reasons why:

“Preemptive strikes against the two groups most likely to erupt ifthe United States invaded Iran, Hezbollah (unsuccessfully attackedby Israel) and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army (unsuccessfully attackedin Basra by Iraq's central government)….

”Recent visits to Middle Eastern allies by high officials, ostensiblyf or other purposes, but really to prepare them for the effects ofsuch a war.

”The appearance of the ‘miracle laptop,’ as Ritter called it, a thousand pages of technical documents supposedly from a stolen Iranian computer, which dubiously had just the sort of information the administration needed to support a hard-line stand on Iran.

”Congressional supplementary funding for more ‘bunker-busting’ bombs, with a contract completion deadline of April.

”Congressional supplementary funding for the extra bombers to carry those bombs, with a contract completion date of April.

”Cheney's order to send a third aircraft carrier battle group close to the Persian Gulf, a necessary bolstering of forces for a war with Iran.

”Admiral William Fallon, the first admiral to be head of Central Command, said that level of naval forces was unnecessary and blocked the move.”

But wait! We haven’t read what Paul Woodward at War in Context has to say. Yesterday he wrote "Who's really special?" asking the question, “Is George Bush, ever so slowly, inching towards détente with Iran? If so, it’s probably something he won’t brag about. But what on earth could hint at such a possibility?

Consider these few things…”

If you’ve made it this far, I highly recommend you read Larry Beinhart’s April 6th article, "Report from Iran: Should We Really Bomb These People?"

I guess I have lived with the illusion that in a democracy, we citizens wouldn’t have to guess about whether or not our country will launch a war against another country. I guess I’ve been wrong all along.

(Persian miniature: - click on it to enlarge)

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