As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And While You're Studying, We Create Our Own Reality

Scott Ritter spoke at the local public library last night, and while the auditorium was full and I had to go to the multi-purpose room upstairs and watch a video feed, I guess i can say that I saw him speak. And he was forceful and adamant, the kind of insistence one gets from someone who was proven right about so many things, yet still gets marginalized in the public debate (he talked about how the media got it wrong in Iraq, and how they're trapped by their own record, forcing them to put idiots like Ken Pollack on their shows, when he was in fact wrong about everything in the Middle East).

But he was most forceful about Iran, and this coming war which is moving at the speed of a freight train, with little or no resistance from anyone who can stop it. Ritter said that Iran and Iraq are part of the same policy of regime change in the Middle East. Iran is listed 16 times in the National Security Strategy of the US as the number one threat to security, and Bush feels that he already has all the authority he needs to go to war yet again. You don't put three carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf simply to pull back. And there are wanton lies being told about the actual threat that Iran poses. First it was that they we're ten years away from a nuclear weapon; to quote Ritter, EVERY COUNTRY on Earth is ten years away from a nuclear weapon. As to the more recent accounts of the IAEA saying that Iran could produce enough enriched uranium for a warhead in a year, this is theoretical and not actual practice; realistically, Iran can't do it and everybody knows this.

As for the casus belli that Iran is supplying Iraqis with weapons that kill Americans, not only could these EFP (explosively formed penetrator) weapons be made by anyone with a bare minimum of machine tools, but revelations in recent days show that this is exactly what Iraqis may have been doing:

The cache included what Maj. Marty Weber, a master explosives ordnance technician, said was C-4 explosive, a white substance, in clear plastic bags with red labels that he said contained serial numbers and other information that clearly marked it as Iranian.

But while the find gave experts much more information on the makings of the E.F.P.’s, which the American military has repeatedly argued must originate in Iran, the cache also included items that appeared to cloud the issue.

Among the confusing elements were cardboard boxes of the gray plastic PVC tubes used to make the canisters. The boxes appeared to contain shipments of tubes directly from factories in the Middle East, none of them in Iran. One box said in English that the tubes inside had been made in the United Arab Emirates and another said, in Arabic, “plastic made in Haditha,” a restive Sunni town on the Euphrates River in Iraq.

So we have a country, Iran, which is likely not to be arming Shiites in Iraq, is likely not to be able to acquire nuclear weapons in as urgent a time frame as was assumed, but a country which is under threat of attack at any moment by a US government making the exact opposite claims. And in the process, as Seymour Hersh explains in his bombshell piece for The New Yorker, we are actually doing the arming of insurgents who mean to kill American troops OURSELVES.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites [...]

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

So the Administration is running an off-the-books series of covert operations, aligned with the Saudis - the "16 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11" Saudis - to crush the growing Shiite sphere of influence that WE TOUCHED OFF by eliminating both of Iran's major rivals in the region, Iraq and Afghanistan. This, frankly, is unbelievable. We created a mess in the first place, and now we're creating a bigger one. We are literally IN LEAGUE WITH SUNNI RADICALS, not unlike those which make up Al Qaeda. Josh Marshall explains the incoherence at work here.

But wait ... Only a short time ago we were told that Cheney and his crew at the White House wanted to take the side of the Shi'as in Iraq's burgeoning civil war. In other words, for all the attention to who we're going to attack and how and how many soldiers we need to do it, there appears to be a basic debate (to be generous) or confusion (to be less generous) within the administration over which side we're even on.

We talk a lot about the 'surge' and that's important since it assumes a intensive military commitment in Iraq for years into the future. We worry about tactics and strategy and whether the White House is going to plunge us into another war as a way to wriggle out of the blame for the current one. But this is a level of folly that transcends all of that: at the most basic level, the folks running the show can't even decide who's side we're on. There's no real strategy here or grand aim or even stable aim -- more like a rather panicked set of improvisations aimed at finding a way to retrospectively justify the mistakes that got us here in the first place.

I think it's incoherent only to the reality-based community. For those that create their own reality, this is perfectly logical. It's time for another war to show everybody in the world who's boss, and it's time to plant some evidence proving that Iran is the gravest threat the world has ever known. America has allowed for strange bedfellows in the past (though ones who repeatedly and rampantly kill thousands of Americans as part of their ideology, well, that's a new one). So the neocons are creating their own reality, hoping that fear and ignorance will get the public on their side once again.

It's a sad irony that the only thing which may be standing between peace and war in Iran is a military coup, as five top generals are prepared to quit in the event of a strike:

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

But generals have resigned their posts before under this Administration, most notably Gen. Shinseki, and the military machine has moved mightily along. Until the public and the leaders in Congress are engaged on this issue BEFORE it happens, we will be moving inexorably toward war. Arthur Silber has a powerful post about this, about the need to speak out right now, about the need to tell the truth.

1. The criminal and immoral nature of an attack on Iran in the present circumstances and in the foreseeable future must be identified and stated with all the force imaginable, without qualification, in virtually every interview, every television appearance, and every news story that any politician (or any other public figure) takes part in, beginning tomorrow. THE INSANITY AND CRIMINALITY OF SUCH AN ATTACK MUST BE MADE NATIONAL TOPIC NUMBER ONE, UNTIL THIS ADMINISTRATION FULLY AND COMPLETELY DISAVOWS ANY AND ALL SUCH INTENTIONS AND PLANS -- AND UNTIL THE MAGNITUDE OF PUBLIC OPPOSITION CONVINCES US THAT THEY MEAN IT.

2. In every statement about an attack on Iran, no opponent of this administration can accept any of the terms of debate chosen by the administration. Such opponents must argue on completely different terms. If you argue within the framework they prefer to any extent at all, you will lose -- and the next global war may begin.

It's time to call your Representatives on this one. They're speaking in general terms about Iran, wary of Administration motives and wanting them to get authority from Congress before any attack. But the President doesn't feel like he needs that authority, the Congress is immobilized by partisanship (particularly in the Senate), and a lot of this stuff is being done without Congressional oversight anyway. Stop the Iran War is a clearing house of activism and information. The time is right now. We have to end this endless re-creation of reality. The purpose of citizenship, of our intelligence community, is to challenge everything and view every official source with suspicion, precisely the opposite of what this lapdog Lieberman suggested today. It's time to challenge the Administration on Iran.

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