A number of seemingly random news items caught my attention this relatively uneventful weekend, but by the time we get to the end of this column a pattern is bound to emerge:
Hypocrisy Watch: Christopher Hitchens, the professional warmonger turned professional atheist, is demanding the Catholic Church be “held accountable” for the crimes of pederastic priests. His appetite for “justice” is considerably reduced, however, when it comes to meting it out to those public officials who lied us into war with Iraq – a war he vociferously supported and continues to support. Apparently the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the decimation of their society by US occupiers, is not a crime in his book. Not even the growing dominance of religious fanatics in positions of power in “liberated” Iraq has managed to attract his ire. Of course, he’s otherwise occupied at the moment, but still – how about an act of contrition before he drops out of sight?
No chance of that, naturally: after all, we’ve “won” in Iraq, right? Never mind those bothersome bombs that keep going off, and the hundreds of casualties. And as for those “weapons of mass destruction” Hitchens and his buddy Paul Wolfowitz were so concerned about – didn’t you know they’re in Syria, now? Or perhaps the Pope – that fount of “peace at any price” appeasement – is hiding them in the Vatican..
Weapons Bizarre: Yossi Melman wants to know “Why are so many Israelis arrested over illegal arms deals worldwide?” Could it be because the Israeli government, in some shape or form, is directly or indirectly involved? After all, assassinations on foreign soil, identity theft, kidnapping, and aiding terrorist organizations are what made the Mossad a byword for ruthless amorality – why would they balk at a little illegal arms dealing?
Israel, by the way, is one of the biggest arms dealers in the world, and in terms of illegal (and thus unrecorded) sales, perhaps number one. The biggest war profiteer is, of course … yes, you guessed it.
Speaking of arms sales: the US has okayed the biggest in history, $60 billion worth of advanced “defense” technology, including F-15 fighter planes, to Saudi Arabia. Commentary on this has been limited to “see, even the Saudis are afraid of Iran” and the Israel lobby’s supposedly surprising turnabout on this issue. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that AIPAC and its allies were decrying US aid to Riyadh as little short of sending aid to Osama bin Laden.
Oh, but we’re all Iranophobes now.
Little remarked on is the complementary deal with Israel, which releases $3 billion dollars in super-high tech F-35 bombers. The deal would be funded almost entirely by US military aid. The sale goes to Lockheed, with other US military contractors getting smaller pieces of the pie.
The F-35 Lightning II program, which was supposed to be a cost-saving device, has turned out to be the biggest “defense” boondoggle in US military history. As Sen. Claire McCaskill put it at a recent Senate hearing:
“I need somebody to do an estimate on the problems associated with this program. I need to know whose fault it is. This is too big to fail, this program. And we’re going to push money across the table. We’re going to push back timelines. We’re going to push money across the table. And I need to figure out, I think we all need to figure out, whose fault is it?”
No matter. The Israelis are happy – they get free stuff that their sub rosa allies in the Kingdom have to pay for, and they’re getting better stuff. The F-35 is way ahead of the F-15 technologically, and Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren expressed his heartfelt thanks for “the administration’s efforts to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.”
The F-35 is a long-range bomber that is, in theory at least, the perfect vehicle for an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. As one study put it,
“The original rationale for the F-35 grew out of the experience of Desert Storm, in which Coalition F-16s, A-10s and F/A-18s pounded Saddam’s large tank armies in Kuwait and Southern Iraq, and out of a series of late Cold War studies on battlefield strike fighters to replace the A-10 and A-7, then intended to wipe out Soviet tank armies in the Fulda Gap. These were the fundamental influences that shaped the performance, size, payload and stealth specifications of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter during the mid 1990s.”
The F-35 was designed, in short, to fight a war in the Middle East against a nation that doesn’t quite measure up to our technological standards. One that can be expected to deploy large massed armies in its defense – and which, in the case of Iran, will have to be stopped from pouring into US-occupied Iraq.
With this move, it is clear that the US is arming its allies in the region – Israel and the Saudis – in preparation for an attack. When Obama said during the last presidential election campaign that he wasn’t taking such an attack off the table, he clearly meant it – and I said so at the time, so you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Does this mean that Israel will carry out its threat to take out Tehran all by itself – or, at least, start the bombing campaign on its own initiative?
That’s highly doubtful. After all, the Israelis are already complaining that the planes won’t arrive on time, because the alleged Iranian “threat,” you see, is so imminent. “”When those planes will arrive,” says defense commentator Yossi Melman, “they will have no use.” Don’t think this lets us off the hook, as far as the Israel lobby is concerned: it’s still our “responsibility,” as Obama put it to AIPAC in 2008, to defend Israel against those mullahs-gone-nuclear. The main blow will be struck by the US military, not the IDF. After all, why should Israelis fight and die when Americans are so willing to sacrifice their own?
These twin arms sales, combined with the draconian sanctions just passed by the US Congress, are acts of war. Which isn’t exactly shocking, because we are in fact already at war with Iran, at least on a low level, in view of US-sponsored terrorist attacks on Iranian territory and our ongoing campaign to isolate Tehran internationally.
Obama is continuing and expanding
the Bushian strategy of forging a Sunni-US-Israeli alliance against
Iran and its allies in Iraq and Lebanon, and the recent arms deals are
just part of it. When things really come to a head is the moment it
becomes politically expedient – and necessary – for the administration
to blame the economic crisis on an “oil shock” that is sure to accompany
a military conflict in the Gulf. No one can know precisely when that moment is coming, but its arrival is no longer very much in doubt.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
Now’s your chance to get in on the Antiwar.com autumn speaking tour, which will be taking me to campuses and other venues all across the country. Yes, I hate flying, especially these days, but I’m doing it for a good cause: promoting the idea of a newly-unified and revivified antiwar movement at the grassroots level. “Stop Obama’s Wars” is the unifying theme I’m taking on the road, and if you want your group to book me at your campus, write firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Antiwar.com office, at: 510-217-8665.