Pavlov’s Dogs of War Revisited

Super Dave Petraeus, newly installed as top banana in the Bananastans*, is practicing the exploding-cigar kind of diplomacy Dick Cheney and his cabin boys perfected during the Li’l Bush regime.

Following policies outlined by the neoconservative cabal in their September 2000 manifesto Rebuilding America’s Defenses, Dick and the Destroyers’ negotiations with Iran amounted to a bad practical joke. Making an unacceptable demand as a precondition to talks – namely that Iran give up its UN-guaranteed right to refine uranium for peaceful purposes – ensured that talks would never take place. When the Iranians refused to knuckle under to an outrageous demand, Team Cheney could say they tried diplomacy and it didn’t work, and continue to press for war.

Nothing has changed under the Obama administration; we’re still demanding that Iran give up its right to refine reactor-grade uranium, and it still refuses to cave in to what amounts to bullying on our part. And perennial AIPAC Shemps** John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham are still running around telling the world how we’ll go to war with Iran if we have to and that the U.S. Congress “has Israel’s back” in return for Israel maintaining the oldest established permanent floating campaign-finance racket in American history. So our animosity toward Iran is theoretically based on the threat Iran poses to Israel, even though, despite what the Ministry of Truth Network would have you believe, Iran can’t do anything to Israel militarily.

It’s little wonder then that one of King David’s first acts as praetorian governor of Central Asia ensured that peace talks don’t take place among the concerned local parties. As “senior officials” have told the New York Times, the Teflon General has introduced the idea of “blacklisting” the Pakistani warlord group known as the Haqqani network by having it declared to be another Club Terror affiliate. That would disrupt the peace coalition Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai is trying to form.

In one version of that coalition, Haqqani network leader Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani would become Afghanistan’s prime minister. Given his connections, Haqqani could coax the Afghan Taliban into a power sharing agreement with Karzai’s government, and because of Haqqani’s close ties to Pakistan’s government, he could broker terms with Afghanistan’s neighboring archrival as well.

And good golly, we wouldn’t want that. If all those Bananastanis decide not to fight each other, then the only excuse we’ll have for staying there is that we don’t want to leave, and we don’t want to admit to something like that out loud. We like to at least cover our aggression with a fig leaf. Mom and the kids are watching, for heaven’s sake.

By now, everyone with a brain larger than a tea bag knows our so-called war on terrorism isn’t about terror. The only effect our war is having on terrorism is to enhance it by creating more terrorists. But even bona fide brainiacs are hard pressed to say what our war on terrorism is about.

Everything we’re doing now is as it has been since young Mr. Bush took office: in strict accordance with Rebuilding America’s Defenses, the neoconservative manifesto that said since we no longer had a peer military competitor we had better invade and occupy the entire world before somebody came along who could stop us (like the Vulcans, maybe).

Occupying Iraq was step one. It had little to do with Saddam Hussein; he was just a convenient excuse. The neocons weren’t concerned about weapons of mass destruction, and they didn’t give a gnat’s meow about terrorism. Iraq had enormous geostrategic importance, though. Located in the middle of the Gulf region and featuring easily navigable terrain, it offered a perfect bully base of operations from which U.S. land and air power could molest the rest of the Muslim world until kingdom come or the planet ran out of oil, whichever came first.

Ray “Desert Ox” Odierno floated his recent suggestion that the UN establish a long-term peacekeeping mission in Iraq with the prime neocon directive in mind. The present disarray of Iraq’s government provides a choice opportunity to slip into place a new UN occupation mandate that extends beyond the December 2011 deadline of the present status of forces agreement. And, naturally, the troops who fill the new UN mandate would be the same as the troops who filled the old UN mandate, i.e., U.S. troops. (Pretty clever, huh? Maybe we should start calling Odierno the Sly Ox.)

Now that Teflon General Petraeus is directly in charge of ensuring peace doesn’t break out in the Bananastans, Obama’s promise to limit our military involvement there is as bogus as a George Washington penny. The reasons the pentagogues*** keep feeding us for staying the course in the Bananastans are equally specious, but their true ambitions become clear when we again consider geostrategic bases of operations.

Iraq provides expanding lines of operations, interior lines of communications, and all the other operational artistry that goes with a central base of operations. The Bananastans provide us with exterior position. Exterior bases of operation provide converging lines of operations, and when we combine the land bases in Bananastan and Iraq with our maritime posture in the Indian Ocean, we have more than sufficient geostrategic leverage on Iran to squeeze it like the boil on a wicked witch’s forehead.

Now little old me figured this out, and all I have are myself and an iMac and two dogs for research assistants. The neocons have global networks of tank thinkeries staffed with multi-degreed career warmongers, so they’ve surely stumbled upon similar revelations, and this is without question the general scheme of operations they’re presently pursuing.

What I can’t figure out is how Pavlov’s dogs of war have managed to convince so many people that the Iranians are worth expending American national effort against. Their defense budget is less than 1 percent of ours. Their conventional air, sea, and land forces are strictly defensive in nature, unable to project power significantly beyond Iran’s borders and shores. Their ballistic missiles are unlikely to work properly in real conditions. Even if one of their missiles did work, it wouldn’t be worth shooting at anybody because the Iranians don’t have a payload worth wasting an expensive missile on. They don’t have nuclear weapons, and despite the dedicated efforts of Israeli-sympathizers in the CIA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and elsewhere to convince you otherwise, the Iranians don’t have a nuclear weapons program either.

One might attempt to build a blanket rationale for the American military to run rampant in Central and Southwest Asia by playing the oil card, but that’s bogus too. Neither Iran nor any other oil country wants to shut down the flow of oil from the Gulf. The people who have oil need to sell it as badly as the people who need oil want to buy it.

So what explains America’s seemingly unalterable aggression? History shows that some people will fight over whatever there is to fight over, and that if there’s nothing to fight over they’ll fight over nothing. People with this type of personality disorder typically get themselves put in charge of things like school boards and civic leagues, where they can be annoying to their hearts’ content but are relatively harmless.

What I haven’t puzzled out is how enlightened people allow the same sorts of lunatics to control the policies of mighty nations and wreak havoc on entire civilizations. Can someone please reassure me that leadership entails more than having a malignant ambition to destroy the universe and sufficient charisma to get away with it?

* The “Bananastans” are Pakistan and Afghanistan, our banana republics in Central Asia.

** A “Shemp” is a second-string stooge.

*** A “pentagogue” is a member of the “Pentarchy,” the militaristic oligarchy that aligns U.S. foreign and domestic policy with the priorities of the Pentagon. Also known as “Pavlov’s Dogs of War,” “war mongrels,” “the warmongery,” “Big War,” and “War, Inc.”

Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.