War With Iran

by , August 30, 2007

For months we at Antiwar.com have been monitoring the situation between Iran and the United States, parsing the words of administration spokesmen for any hints of when and how hostilities between the two countries might begin. We’ve been running reports from insiders saying that the Cheney faction is pushing for an attack, that Bush is quite amenable but is biding his time, and that an assault on Tehran is imminent. Now the president has come out openly with his warlike intentions. In a speech delivered Tuesday, he reiterated recent charges by Washington that Iran is arming and training Iraqi Shi’ite groups who are launching attacks on American forces in Iraq, and he announced: "I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities."

Translation: The bombing begins shortly.

A recent blog item on LewRockwell.com does much to confirm this well-grounded suspicion. In a letter to Rockwell, a former Hillsdale College student describes the celebratory attitude toward war held by Hillsdale lecturer Victor Davis Hanson and his fellow neocons (Bill Kristol, Midge Decter, Harvey Mansfield), adding this chilling anecdote:

"At one point during his class … Hanson related a story where he was in the Oval Office … discussing the matter of Iran [with the president]. Hanson closed his story by saying that Bush vowed to do something about Iran before his term expired."

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has become the intellectual and political touchstone for a whole generation of American politicians and pundits, who either did or did not predict the disastrous outcome and either did or did not sign on to a "patriotic" – and idiotic – cause that was popular at the time. A good number of our laptop bombardiers have since recanted, including Andrew Sullivan, who played the role of drum majorette in the march to war; Francis Fukuyama, who provided the Wagnerian musical score; and William F. Buckley Jr., who allowed his magazine to be used by the neocons as an instrument of lying war propaganda – and libelous smears directed at conservative opponents of the Iraq folly. Buckley shocked his fellows when he admitted "one can’t doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed" and urged on the administration and his fellow conservatives "the acknowledgment of defeat."

Ah, but not VDH and his fellow fantasists, including Buckley’s epigones over at National Review, who are stubbornly hewing to the neoconservative line. Immune to evidence, however vivid, that their premises and ideological theories are not only wrong but actively harmful to American interests in the Middle East and worldwide, these people – the neocon "dead-enders," to borrow one of Donald Rumsfeld’s favorite phrases – are quite simply crackpots. They are like proponents of the Flat Earth theory, or advocates of phrenology: in the face of all evidence to the contrary – mountains of it – they hold that the "real truth" (about the earth’s flatness, the "scientific" validity of phrenology, all the "progress" we’re making in Iraq) is being "suppressed." This dogged denial is the virtual definition of crackpottery, and it brings to mind a recent post by Matt Yglesias at The Atlantic wherein he complains that the crackpots (neocon variety) are being mainstreamed by ostensibly "liberal" Washington think-tanks:

"The crux of the matter is that we have here in Washington, D.C., a certain number of institutions working in the national security sphere that are essentially crackpot operations – AEI, The Weekly Standard, the Project for a New American Century, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies come to mind. Now one can argue ’till the cows come home whether or not it should have been clear in August 2002 that these were crackpot operations, but over the past five years they’ve demonstrated themselves to indubitably be crackpot institutions."

Yglesias’ beef is with Brookings, whose resident scholar, Michael O’Hanlon – currently playing the "left" wing of the administration’s push to legitimize and make permanent the "surge" – is getting up there on the stage with the AEI-PNAC-Weekly Standard peddlers of discredited nostrums. To those of us immersed in the arcana of neoconology, however, the establishment of a neocon-occupied beachhead on the liberal "left" comes as no surprise, since, after all, the left is where neoconservatism first cohered into a distinct political tendency.

What’s truly scary, however, is that this cult of snake-oil salesmen, of which Hanson is a prime example, have easy access to the White House, where they are the confidantes of a president who believes he has been chosen by God to carry out a vast and sacred mission of global regime change. Yes, it’s distressing that the neocons seem to have infiltrated the core institutions of liberal Washington, but the real danger is that these discredited crackpots are still in command of the White House.

Cheney is wounded but hardly paralyzed, and the cranks who surround him, and who predicted a "cakewalk" in Iraq, are now bawling that we can’t back down from confronting Tehran in view of Iran’s "provocations" in Iraq and Afghanistan. That none of the allegations against Iran are proven, or even all that credible to begin with, is neither here nor there: our crackpot theorists will take any factoid and readily fit it into the jigsaw puzzle of unsourced accusations, vague "intelligence," and other manufactured "evidence" of Iranian perfidy.

The other day I wrote about a piece that appeared on the Web site of the pro-war Family Security Matters, a front group for the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, in which the author called for Bush to make like Caesar, brush aside the Constitution, and proclaim himself president-for-life, while nuking Iraq (and presumably Iran). This crazed polemic caused a stir of outraged disbelief throughout the blogosphere, and many were and are convinced it was a hoax, a satire, the result of an LSD flashback, or perhaps all of the above. Whatever the truth may be, what one realizes upon reading of the president’s future war plans is that he has already made like caesar, thrown Congress aside, and crossed the Rubicon that flows between republic and empire. It is hardly necessary for Bush to formally dissolve Congress, since that body long ago abdicated its constitutional authority and responsibilities. When it comes to the conduct of American foreign policy, George W. Bush already has absolute power, and it is becoming all too apparent that he intends to wield it against Iran.

The Democrats’ failure to defund the Iraq occupation has led, inexorably, to the likelihood of a border "incident" with Iran that will – tragically, and almost inevitably – result in a conflict that will draw in every country in the Middle East, roiling the Muslim world. The compromises, the craven capitulations, the excuse-making for Democrats whose hearts were and are supposedly in the right place but who succumbed, in the end, to the lure of pork over principle, have brought us to this – to the prospect of yet another war, albeit a much bigger and potentially more destructive one.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

I wanted to wait until most of the returns came in before I thanked everyone who contributed to our summer fundraising campaign. While we’re still getting donations trickling in, I can safely (and proudly) announce that we raised $76,000 – exceeding our fundraising goal by some six grand. To all who gave, a heartfelt thanks – you came through once again. My trepidation, as the time to launch the summer drive approached, was, it appears, entirely unwarranted, and I’m very grateful for that: in this case, I loved being proved wrong.

We are working every day to justify your confidence in and support for the work we are doing. I know you agree it’s important work, and don’t imagine that we’re going to be resting on our laurels. We’re constantly striving to improve our coverage of world affairs, and you’ll be seeing some changes soon. One example: we’re instituting comments in the blog, and we’re thinking about having them for all columns and articles as well. What do you think?

Also, I’m blogging regularly over at Taki’s Top Drawer, where I’m allowed to write about stuff that has nothing to do with war and peace, or even, necessarily, politics. Here I comment on Sen. Larry Craig’s tearoom theatrics, and here‘s a note about the Lobby’s effort to quash all discussion of the new book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. A brickbat to Hugo Chavez and a bouquet to George Szamuely: it’s all happening over at Taki’s Top Drawer.

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