Sleepwalking into a war with Iran?

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Father Roy writes:  This is quite a comprehensive essay.  Dan Stone is a peace activist in the San Francisco Bay area.  Dan has an extensive mailing list and is busy on the ground, as well.  In this post Dan builds on an essay written by Dr. Stephen Zunes (pasted below) who teaches at the University of San Francisco (USF).  Every word in this mailing deserves to be highlighted, so I’ve not done any.  However, I’m unable to resist adding a song written by Jacque Brel, my favorite contemporary poet:  “Sons Of” (03:26).   Peace, Roy

Sleepwalking into another war?

by Dan Stone

Irrational fears are being dragooned again to make the world a far worse place in which to live, especially for those in the Middle East. We Americans, who are isolated from the consequences of our own acts, and usually “opt out” of the decision-making process to continue to enjoy our lifestyles, no matter how much agony we inflict on others, are the only ones that can possibly stop any attack on Iran. We are definitely part of the decision-making process — the powers-that-be are counting on us to remain docile, as we usually do. They can point to our apathy as a sure sign of our decision to accept their vicious war designs on Iran.

As Professor Stephen Zunes points out in his article, which appears below, and which I also posted last night (“Congress Pushes for War with Iran“), the neo-cons are still fully in charge of the u.s. Security State or, as it should be called by everyone as its most accurate title, the “HATE” or “Huge American Terrorist Empire”. The House Resolution, HR 568, that he references, is simply the latest in a long line of legal measures designed both to condition the American people to accept an attack on Iran, and to provide the actual paperwork and foundation for such an attack.  Congress, fully in the pocket of the neo-con war hawks, has already decided for war. The proof is (a) their complaisance regarding Bush’s attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, and Obama’s blatant attack on Libya, and (b) the “assembly-line” resolutions they have passed against Iran over and over, each becoming more and more bellicose. This latest resolution HR 568 is extruding the President ’s options down into warfare.

Anyone who does not want war on Iran should start now taking concrete and continuous action to PREVENT war, not wait until AFTER an actual attack. I am reminded of a stock broker who led a demonstration in front of the San Francisco Stock Exchange to oppose any war on Iraq before the actual attack took place. Everyone else waited until after the attack before launching gigantic protests, but, by then, it was too late.

I was under the illusion for a long time that there was a meaningful anti-war opposition in congress, but, in fact, there are not enough of them to make any difference. So it is up to the people to do what their elected officials will not do — keep the peace.

Congress is totally controlled by the neo-con war-mongers, and any dissent is punished. We are goose-stepping toward war on Iran, and Obama and the American people are the only ones able to prevent such an attack. This attack probably will not take place before the election for political reasons. The danger zone will be after November.

Then, Obama will demonstrate, in his second term, whether he can hold to his promise to “change the mindset” that causes war, the mindset which permitted us to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. We have to support him and back him up in any resolve he may have NOT to attack Iran, to make such an important and fundamental change in foreign policy thinking.

“We” (our “leaders”) are at the point now at which we see all other countries as enemies or potential enemies, even our “allies”. We are a very sick nation. How did we arrive at this paranoia? From where did this paranoia come? The most obvious answer is that the HATE has to have a steady supply of enemies to justify the permanent military budget and gigantic military establishment that the HATE has burdened us with after World War II.

So, in this instance, it’s President Obama and the American people, standing against the entire power structure of the HATE. If Obama says, “Yes, go ahead and attack Iran”, all our other “leaders” will be happy. If Obama says “No”, . . . well, who would be courageous enough to incur the wrath of the real powers behind the throne? The only way the President would say “No” is if he and everyone else knows that he has the American people behind him against an attack on Iran.

Will we sleepwalk into another illegal, immoral, one-sided attack on a far smaller and weaker people? Only Obama and the American people will be able to stop the HATE from such an attack.

Decades ago, there was a Saturday Night Live skit on TV, set in medieval England. A military force of the King’s men burst into a wedding party in a castle in search of some imaginary enemy. Thinking that the wedding party were the enemy (sound familiar?), they ran through some of the wedding guests with their swords before being alerted that the real imaginary enemy was upstairs. So they rushed up the stairs, etc. When they came down, they looked somewhat chagrined, mumbled a weak apology, and left. This is the very pattern of the HATE for more than the past half-century — the same pattern over and over and over again in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, to mention a very few of our victims. The same pattern — HATE demonizing an “enemy” on false pretenses, a brutal attack, followed by a long, cruel, unproductive, unnecessary occupation, then slinking away after the American people no longer wish to foot the bill for such abject failure — is looming again regarding Ira n. Will we sleepwalk into committing yet another mass murder war crime?

excerpts from below Zunes article ::

[Obama] promised to “change the mindset” – the idea that the United States could unilaterally make war against oil-rich Middle Eastern countries that did not accept U.S. domination – that made the Iraq war possible. Both Democratic and Republican hawks, therefore, appear determined to force this moderate president to accept their neoconservative agenda.

This dangerous embrace of neoconservative military policy is now so widely accepted by both parties in Congress that the vote on the resolution was taken under a procedure known as “suspension of the rules,” which is designed for non-controversial bills passed quickly with little debate. Indeed, given the serious implications of this legislation, it is striking that there was not a single congressional hearing prior to the vote.

The resolution also demonstrates that the vast majority of Democrats, like Republicans, have embraced the concept of “full-spectrum dominance,” the Bush-era doctrine that not only should the United States prevent the emergence of another rival global superpower such as China, but it should also resist the emergence of even a regional power, such as Iran, that could potentially deter unilateral U.S. military actions or other projections of American domination.

Congress Pushes for War with Iran

By Stephen Zunes

June 13, 2012

www.fpif.org…

In another resolution apparently designed to prepare for war against Iran, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 401–11 vote, has passed a resolution (HR 568) urging the president to oppose any policy toward Iran “that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”

With its earlier decision to pass a bill that effectively sought to ban any negotiations between the United States and Iran, a huge bipartisan majority of Congress has essentially told the president that nothing short of war or the threat of war is an acceptable policy. Indeed, the rush to pass this bill appears to have been designed to undermine the ongoing international negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. According to Iranian-American analyst Jamal Abdi, a prominent critic of both the Iranian regime and U.S. policy, the motivation for the resolution may be to “poison those talks by signaling to Iran that the President is weak, domestically isolated, and unable to deliver at the negotiating table because a hawkish Congress will overrule him.”

President Obama’s “red line” on Iran — the point at which his administration would consider taking military action against the country — has been the reactionary regime’s actual procurement of nuclear weapons. The language of this resolution, however, significantly lowers the bar by declaring it unacceptable for Iran simply to have “nuclear weapons capability” — not necessarily any actual weapons or an active nuclear weapons program. Some members of Congress have argued that since Iranians have the expertise and technological capacity to develop nuclear weapons, they already have “nuclear weapons capability.” The hawkish Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has argued that “everybody will determine for themselves what [capability] means.”

In case there was any doubt about the intent of Congress in using this language, when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a clarifying amendment to a similar clause in a recent Senate resolution — declaring that “nothing in the Act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran” — both its Republican and Democratic sponsors summarily rejected the amendment.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, noted how “this resolution reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war, and could be the precursor for a war with Iran. It’s effectively a thinly-disguised effort to bless war.”

As the liberal Zionist group Americans for Peace Now observed, the legislation suggests that “unless sanctions imminently result in Iran voluntarily shutting down its entire nuclear program (and somehow deleting the nuclear know-how from the brains of its scientists), military force will be the only option available to the Obama Administration and will be inevitable in the near term.”

Though it is not legally binding, the resolution does limit the president’s options politically. As pundit and former Capitol Hill staffer M.J. Rosenberg has noted, the bill was “designed to tie the president’s hands on Iran policy.” And, as with the case of Iraq, the language of such non-binding resolutions can easily be incorporated into binding legislation, citing the precedent of what had been passed previously.

The End of Containment

There is enormous significance to the resolution’s insistence that containment, which has been the basis of U.S. defense policy for decades, should no longer be U.S. policy in dealing with potential threats. Although deterrence may have been an acceptable policy in response to the thousands of powerful Soviet nuclear weapons mounted on intercontinental ballistic missile systems aimed at the United States, the view today is that deterrence is somehow inadequate for dealing with a developing country capable of developing small and crude nuclear devices but lacking long-range delivery systems.

Indeed, this broad bipartisan consensus against deterrence marks the triumph of the neoconservative first-strike policy, once considered on the extreme fringes when first articulated in the 1980s.

This dangerous embrace of neoconservative military policy is now so widely accepted by both parties in Congress that the vote on the resolution was taken under a procedure known as “suspension of the rules,” which is designed for non-controversial bills passed quickly with little debate. Indeed, given the serious implications of this legislation, it is striking that there was not a single congressional hearing prior to the vote.

The resolution also demonstrates that the vast majority of Democrats, like Republicans, have embraced the concept of “full-spectrum dominance,” the Bush-era doctrine that not only should the United States prevent the emergence of another rival global superpower such as China, but it should also resist the emergence of even a regional power, such as Iran, that could potentially deter unilateral U.S. military actions or other projections of American domination.

Limiting the President

It is unprecedented for Congress to so vigorously seek to limit a president’s non-military options in foreign policy. For example, in 1962, even the most right-wing Republicans in Congress did not push for legislation insisting that President Kennedy rule out options other than attacking Cuba or the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. What might be motivating Congress is the fact that, in electing Barack Obama in 2008, the American people brought into the White House an outspoken opponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq who not only withdrew U.S. combat forces from that country but promised to “change the mindset” – the idea that the United States could unilaterally make war against oil-rich Middle Eastern countries that did not accept U.S. domination – that made the Iraq war possible. Both Democratic and Republican hawks, therefore, appear determined to force this moderate president to accept their neoconservative agenda.

Deterrence, when dealing with a nuclear-armed party, is indeed a risky strategy. The international community does have an interest in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, as well as in forcing India, Pakistan, and Israel to disarm their already-existing arsenals. All reasonable diplomatic means should be pursued to create and maintain a nuclear-free zone in that volatile region.

However, the idea that deterrence against Iran would not work because the country’s clerical leadership, which controls the armed forces, would decide to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack against Israel or the United States — and therefore invite massive nuclear retaliation that would cause the physical destruction of their entire country — is utterly ridiculous. The far more realistic risk to worry about is the enormous devastation that would result from a U.S. war on Iran.

The real “threat” from Iran is if that country achieves nuclear capability, it would then have a deterrent to a U.S. attack that was unavailable to its immediate neighbors to the east (Afghanistan) and west (Iraq), both of which were invaded by U.S.-led forces. Both Democrats and Republicans appear to be united in their belief that no country should stand in the way of the unilateral projection of military force by the United States or its allies.

Indeed, this resolution is not about the national security of the United States, nor is it about the security of Israel. It is about continuing U.S. hegemony over the world’s most oil-rich region.

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