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Setting the Table
Preemptive War—a Moveable Feast

By Ian Murphy

It’s been an exciting week of inspired rhetorical overture, emanating from both the American and Iranian regimes. Propagandas clashed, danced and performed public relations slapstick comedy to win the hearts and minds of a skittish worldwide audience. In the fallout of the latest Seymour Hersh bomb in the New Yorker, the American press has been coughing up bloody chunks of White House sputum like “wild speculation” and “fantasy land” out of one side of its mouth, while hissing the administration’s ominous mantra, “all options are still on the table,” from the other. Picking and choosing, playing to the audience. The hypocrisy was overwhelming.

In an April 8th clusterfuck masterstroke, Eric Schmitt of the New York Times even went so far as to chide Hersh for his repeated use of anonymous sources and attempted to repudiate Hersh’s claims by quoting unnamed “senior pentagon officials” So far, calls to arrest Hersh for sedition are only coming from the most ignorant and insignificant right wing bloggers, and not from well-known columnists as happened last year when Hersh published pretty much the same story, about secret US military operations inside Iran.

The Iranian regime, on the other hand, has gone the route of doves and flag waving, athletes posing with the love of Allah in their eyes and a capsule of enriched uranium in their outstretched, thankful hands. Iran’s well-orchestrated press conference, ostensibly geared to play well with UN Security Council nations Russia and China, produced such glorious photos as to make the viewer smile and think to themselves “every time Mahmoud Ahmadinejad enriches uranium, an angel get his wings!” Of course, Iran has more than electricity production in the works. It would be foolish to think a small nation with the world’s only superpower breathing down its neck wouldn’t seek a bona fide means to defend itself. It’s worked for North Korea, right?

The Hersh piece, largely reiterating widely known and published American military policy, seemed to surprise only the most dimly aware media outlets: namely, all US dailies and 24-hour news channels. One need only peruse the DoD’s and Joint Chiefs’ websites to confirm Hersh’s “wild speculation.” Check out Joint Publication 3-12, Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations. The 69-page ode to glass craters made minute ripples in the US media when it was released last year, detailing “The Role of US Theater Nuclear Operations,” including the strategy and legitimacy of using preemptive nuclear strikes in the war on terror. The preemptive groundwork was laid out in a previous document, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, in September 2002. And the recently released DoD Quadrennial Defense Review Report renamed our current conflict “The Long War,” and further enforced the pentagon’s desire “to operate clandestinely and to sustain a persistent but low-visibility presence.”

So there you go; all of Hersh’s major assertions (current military activity in Iran and plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to destroy underground uranium enrichment facilities without military provocation) fit perfectly with our stated policies. Official US “defense” documents explicitly outline a strategy of preemptive war, expound on our right to use nuclear weapons in such a context and even perform covert operations indifferent to borders, yet we take little notice until Sy Hersh puts a name to what said documents call “beyond Afghanistan and Iraq.” Now, everyone is freaking out. These facts don’t warrant debate, confirmation or denial. The country named is the only minor point of contention, but the drumbeat has been increasing in volume since Bush named Iran as a member of the “axis of evil.”  The fact is: there are contingency plans for this type of activity all over the Middle East. All that remains to be seen is where and when.

What isn’t getting much play however, are Israeli reports of the penciled-in strike date of 2007. Israeli security experts, as reported by Israel’s leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on April, 11, have settled on 2007 as the best time for America to perform as Israel’s proxy military in the region. Among the reasons given in the article was the US presidential election cycle, naturally.

The global strategic significance of Iran is important to not only to the US, but also Russia, China, Europe, and of course Israel. The oil resources offer these major powers, if they can control them, leverage over the other. The fate of the country and the people who happen to be living above the oil is insignificant. Russia and China resist even the notion of economic sanctions because of their proximity to existing and proposed Iranian pipelines; we’re not the only ones addicted to oil, after all. Both countries have been cultivating a friendly codependent relationship with the Islamic republic for years. But all the way on the other side of the planet, the story is quiet different. To access the resources of a nation which has dubbed you “the great Satan” is not an easy task. It requires a trumped up threat to national security, merciless plans for global hegemony and a friend in harm’s way. Luckily, Israel can be reached by Iran’s nuclear warheads, or, um, the warheads they will have in 2007.

Israel has long been our “cop on the beat,” holding the threat of nuclear attack over the heads of all Middle Easterners. Now that a country is seeking to balance power in the region (whether through peaceful or violent use of nuclear technology), it has become clear that our duty is to nip it in the bud. Irrelevant is the fact that Israel’s armed to the teeth with US military hardware, and could easily defend itself if it weren’t for fear of a backlash in the neighborhood. Enter the Israel lobby, and subsequent US military planning. If you doubt Israel’s influence in Washington, read the recent Harvard study, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. But be warned: even thinking about reading this study makes you anti-Semitic.

The idea that is going to be pounded into the American mind for the next year or so is a simple one: the Iranians are nuts, and as soon as they develop a nuke they’ll use it, on Israel or even the US. But even if they succeeded in developing such a weapon, do you really imagine they’d use it, when the obvious consequence would be their instantaneous incineration? Yes, you probably will, by the time your TV is done with you.

Yup, exciting times: two messianic regimes jostling for pole position in the apocalypse 500, tactical nukes, sticks, carrots, “wild speculation” and warheads. While it is quite apparent that war with Iran would be as idiotic as invading Iraq has turned out to be, just keep in mind that “everything is on the table.”



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