Another War?

What next for the War Party? Like a giant anaconda after a humongous meal, the monster is hardly finished with the process of swallowing its latest prey, let alone digesting it. Yet the hunger that drives it is relentless and the creature is already eyeing the next course: Iran. Dan Sneider, foreign affairs writer for the San Jose Mercury News, put it well the other day:

“Counterterror specialists look for ‘chatter’ in Islamic extremist circles preceding an attack. There is a lot of chatter going on today in Washington – only this time, it is about an American attack on Iran.”

The same neoconservatives who chattered us into war and lured us into the Iraqi snakepit under false pretenses are playing a similar game when it comes to Iran. All the usual suspects are revving up the propaganda machine for another chorus of the same old martial song, albeit this time with some interesting variations.

For one thing, this time it is going to be a lot easier for them to stage a provocation. The case for invading Iraq required the impetus of 9/11 and a complex web of lies designed to implicate Saddam Hussein in the planning and execution of the worst terrorist attack in American history. In this case, however, the Empire now shares a border with its intended prey: as I wrote some time ago, we are a border incident away from a regional conflagration..

It would be easy to stage such a provocation – another Gulf of Tonkin incident. How close we are to the edge was brought home to me by a recent Associated Press “news” report:

“Islamists have been moving supplies and new recruits from Iran into Iraq, said Iraqi Kurdish and Western officials, though it is unclear whether Tehran is covertly backing them or whether militants are simply taking advantage of the porous border.”

What follows is a stream of innuendo and rather fanciful theorizing pointing at Iran as the “real” power behind the Iraqi insurgency. American officials are quoted anonymously, but the Kurds are upfront about their agenda and openly accuse Tehran of “interfering” in Iraq’s internal affairs. Of course, such “interference” as an invasion and occupation, coming as it does from their American patrons, doesn’t bother them at all. In fact they quite like it, so much so that they want an instant replay – this time directed at Iran. With both Iraq and Iran considerably weakened, if not entirely out of the way, the Kurds could take the road to full independence.

A more comprehensive version of the AP story proffered by the Boston Globe identifies Iran’s accusers as officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls the southern portion of Kurdistan as a semi-independent fiefdom. This fact in itself tells us much about why it was a big mistake to ever get involved in this part of the world, where such concepts as loyalty, gratitude, and benevolence – let alone democracy and the rule of law – are simply inoperable.

Sure, the PUK actively supported the Iranians during the decade-long Iran-Iraq war, and, yes, the Iranians did set up two field hospitals near the border to take in wounded Kurds during the conflict – while pointedly excluding the radical Islamists of Ansar al-Islam, which has been linked to Osama bin Laden. But, hey, what have you done for me lately?

That’s why I had to laugh when I read the following in the Boston Globe account, summarizing the Iranian role in supporting the Iraqi opposition to Saddam:

“In Iran, shelter was given to an array of Iraqi opposition groups, ranging from those considered allied with Tehran’s ideology, like the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to the secular Iraqi National Congress. The apparent Iranian ties to mujahedeen groups operating inside Iraq only continues this long Machiavellian tradition, the Kurdish officials said.”

Aside from not mentioning their own succor at the teat of Iranian generosity, one can’t help agreeing that Machiavellian is certainly the word for what is going on in “liberated” Kurdistan. “They work with groups like Ansar, whose ideology is so opposed to theirs, because they want to have a card to play in Iraq,” said one Kurdish leader.

Where have we heard that before?

We all remember that the presence of Ansar al-Islam in what was invariably described by administration officials as “northern Iraq” was supposed to be proof of a working alliance between the Ba’athists and bin Laden, a major link in the alleged chain of terrorist associations linking Saddam to the 9/11 attacks. What these officials – and most newspaper reporters – neglected to mention was that this alleged “terrorist training camp” was planted smack dab in the middle of Kurdish-held territory, separated from the rest of Iraq by the no-fly-zone and controlled by the PUK.

Now that Saddam is rotting away in an American jail, Ansar is used as alleged proof of Iranian perfidy, and has even undergone a name-change to suit the War Party’s convenience. According to Kurdish officials:

“Ansar’s members have reconstituted as a new group, Ansar al-Sunni, or have joined Zarqawi. US officials have made the same claim. … ‘Iran continues its relationship with Ansar,’ [said one official]. ‘They are training them how to use explosive ordnance for terrorist attacks in the south of Iraq.'”

Just change the names, and a few of the actors, but give your audience the same tired old formula fiction: that is what a hack will do every time. But will the American public buy it?

The gang that brought us Gulf War II, and ache to give us Gulf War III, are the Danielle Steels of phony “intelligence.” They’ll pull any deus ex machina out of a hat, no matter how improbable, to con us into another conflict, this time against an enemy that, while willing to make a deal, formally asserts its right to wield a nuclear deterrent – and has the technology to do it.

The stakes, in short, are much higher, the situation far more volatile, and behind it all is a factor that has so far managed to remain largely hidden: Israel. Kurdistan is where the Israelis have recently sent their agents – loaded down with plenty of cash – as Seymour Hersh reports, egging on Kurdish nationalists in their bid for a de facto independent state. According to Hersh, the Israelis have quietly informed the administration that the war against the insurgency in Iraq is hopeless, and their plan – “Plan B,” as Hersh dubs it – is to provoke a wider war:

“In a series of interviews in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, officials told me that by the end of last year Israel had concluded that the Bush Administration would not be able to bring stability or democracy to Iraq, and that Israel needed other options. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government decided, I was told, to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel’s strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with Iraq’s Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. Several officials depicted Sharon’s decision, which involves a heavy financial commitment, as a potentially reckless move that could create even more chaos and violence as the insurgency in Iraq continues to grow.

“Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.”

The Zionization of Kurdistan is the first step in an Israeli effort to confront Iran – not directly, of course, but wielding the U.S. military as its instrument. Pro-Israeli officials in the U.S. government are actively seeking a policy of “regime change” in Tehran, and one of them – Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst and Iran specialist – was caught by the FBI handing over sensitive U.S. government documents to a coven of Israeli government officials and two top employees of the American Israeli Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC). On the ground in Iraq, and in Washington, the Israelis and their agents are working overtime to provoke another war – and, now that Bush is president, and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress is firmly in place, who will stop them?

We are on the Middle East escalator, as I’ve pointed out before, and there is no way to get off partially, or gradually – it’s withdrawal, or a wider war. That is the choice we face. The Democrats have yet to understand this. Like fires, pestilence, and plague, wars break out and spread without respect for national boundaries – or the original intentions of the combatants. America’s war against the Iraqi insurgents will eventually pull in Iran, Syria, and, in the end, Saudi Arabia. The Israelis have always understood this, and are acting accordingly.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Hey, this guy over at the Washington Post lifted my “Buck Up, You Lefties!” column! Not that I really mind. Spread that meme!

I have a review of Seymour Hersh‘s latest book, Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, in the latest [November 22] issue of The American Conservative. No, it’s not online, and there’s just one sure way to get access to my stuff in TACsubscribe!

I am pretty jazzed about the success – so far – of our fundraising drive. I was delighted to see a plug from Vanity Fair contributing editor James Wolcott, on his excellent blog: Wolcott is the author of Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror, and calls us “indispensable.” And, you know what? He’s right about that.

That’s why I don’t want to get too complacent about the success of our fundraising drive. I’m a pessimist, at heart, which is why I’m rarely disappointed, and I just don’t believe it’s going to be as easy as all that. Yes, I realize that many of our readers are frightened to death over the prospect of four more years of the Nitwit Napoleon, but this is too important to leave to chance and the vagaries of peoples’ moods. What’s clear is this: Antiwar.com is needed now more than ever. We can’t afford to fail, at this point: the consequences would be too dire. Because we really are playing a key role in the struggle against the War Party, which would like nothing better than to witness our demise.

That’s why I’m appealing to each and every one of my regular readers – and to you relative newcomers, too, and I know there are a lot of you: I see the numbers going up on our tracking software. Give as much as you can, as soon as you can – because it really matters. Help us make a difference: go here and give.

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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is editor-at-large at Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].