Is War With Iran Inevitable?

We didn’t just invade Iraq – when we launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom” the American people not only signed on to an occupation that resembles, in many respects, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, we also bought into a serial war strategy, the first of which was Gulf War I. Gulf War II landed us in our present predicament. Gulf War III – involving, at a minimum, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon – is about to break out, and no one seems willing to stand against it.

Indeed, the third Gulf War has already begun, and all that remains is for the aerial phase of it to commence. The presence of three U.S. carriers in the Gulf is a prelude to a much larger operation, and, as if on cue, accusations of Iranian interference in Iraq have escalated, with the US military now echoing earlier assertions by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney that the Iranians stood behind the Iraqi insurgency. We are, of course, never allowed to see the “evidence” for this claim, and, in the long, anguishing reappraisal of the “intelligence” that rationalizes a strike at Tehran the real paucity of concrete facts backing up these statements will doubtless come out. In the meantime, however, we are supposed to accept the veracity of the charges on faith: foreign policy is this administration’s most successful faith-based program, at least in terms of getting politicians of both parties, the media, and the general public to willingly suspend their disbelief until well after the shooting starts.

The political build-up to the actual fireworks reached a crescendo of hypocritical cant in the Senate the other day, with the passage of an amendment – 97 to nada – deploring alleged Iranian perfidy in Iraq, including purported attacks on U.S. soldiers. This, while we hold their diplomats hostage in a bizarrely inverted replay of the 1970s Iranian hostage crisis that brought down Jimmy Carter. Perhaps the regime-changers in Washington are hoping the same fate awaits Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If so, they are bound to be disappointed: such provocations only enhance the authority of Iranian hard-liners, and make the prospect of conflict with the U.S. more likely. On the other hand, maybe that’s exactly the point …

The bipartisan band is striking up a war tune, as “antiwar” Senator Carl Levin co-sponsors with Joe Lieberman the Iran Amendment to the defense appropriations bill, joining with Republican Senators McCain, Kyl, and Graham in a rousing chorus of rattling sabers. The amendment accuses Iran of murdering American soldiers, and of committing other acts of war: it is, in effect, a declaration of war, and Senator Lieberman was quite clear about this on the Senate floor the other day.

I find it fascinating that al Qaeda is taking the same line, these days, as Lieberman, Levin, and the Lobby. In a statement released just as the Senate was passing the Iran amendment, Osama’s boys in Iraq warned Tehran to get out of town:

“The leader of an al-Qaeda umbrella group in Iraq threatened to wage war against Iran unless it stops supporting Shiites in Iraq within two months, according to a new audiotape. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who leads the Islamic State in Iraq, said his Sunni fighters have been preparing for four years to wage a battle against Shiite-dominated Iran.

“’We are giving the Persians, and especially the rulers of Iran, a two month period to end all kinds of support for the Iraqi Shiite government and to stop direct and indirect intervention … otherwise a severe war is waiting for you,’ he said in the 50-minute audiotape.

“In the recording, al-Baghdadi also gave Sunnis and Arab countries doing business in Iran or with Iranians a two-month deadline to cease their ties. ‘We advise and warn every Sunni businessman inside Iran or in Arab countries especially in the Gulf not to take partnership with any Shiite Iranian businessman — this is part of the two-month period,’ he said.”

This perfectly illustrates what Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, means when he describes the US as OBL’s “one indispensable ally.” Critics of the Iraq war note that US intervention has swelled the ranks of bin Laden’s legions, but, in light of this, can we bring ourselves to wonder if, perhaps, instead of an unintended consequence of U.S. policy, this one was fully intended from the start? Seymour Hersh calls Washington’s tilt toward the Sunnis “The Redirection,” but the reality is that we didn’t direct our full power at bin Laden and made only a feeble effort to destroy al Qaeda. Our initial half-hearted efforts in that direction were soon diverted to invading and occupying Iraq. Having established a Mesopotamian beachhead, U.S. forces are now using Iraq as a launching pad for the next phase in our serial war strategy – the invasion of Iran.

It may be that the American people are opposed to another war in the Middle East: that may even be the last thing on their minds. Yet our elected “representatives” could not care less about popular opinion, or else they would have gotten us out of Iraq last year. The Lobby is plumbing for war with Iran, and the tom-toms are beating out their message of fear, intimidation, and vaunting – the prelude to another symphony of “shock and awe.”

One would think that our presidential front-runners would be more sensitive to the popular anti-interventionist zeitgeist, but no – not a single “major” candidate dissents from the “let’s-hit-Iran” Washington consensus, including Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, and of course all the Republicans but Ron Paul want to nuke Tehran. Politically, the stage is set for the third Gulf war.

Widespread predictions that Bush will launch “Operation Iranian Freedom” before leaving office may be mere speculation, and yet all the signs point to the likelihood of a U.S. attack on Iran fairly soon. As we have seen, the U.S. is already making the requisite military preparations, and the propaganda war was begun long ago. Ahmadinejad makes a fine Saddam-figure, even better than the original, and, this time, they have their “weapons of mass destruction” narrative fully developed in advance. With the passage of the Lieberman-Levin amendment, the US Congress is giving Bush the green light for war. It’s all systems go.

So hunker down, get ready for the coming storm – prepare yourself for gas prices that will make it impossible to drive without taking out a bank loan – and, most importantly, stay online. Because the first news of the Big War will be headlined right here on – along with a thorough debunking of the alleged “incident” that sparks it.

It was never possible to contain the war against Iraq’s insurgency to the borders of the state once ruled by Saddam Hussein, and US policymakers could not have failed to realize that early on. The War Party, in any case, was never shy about proclaiming its war aims, first among these being the “democratic” transformation of the entire region. Iran is next: it’s as simple as that.

The Bush Doctrine of exporting “democracy” at gunpoint is being tested in the laboratory of the Middle East. The results, so far, are similar to those experienced by one Dr. Frankenstein, who also – out of hubris – tried to create life out of death, and instead birthed a monster.

In invading Iraq, we created a Shi’ite theocracy, ruled by death squads and radical mullahs: the so-called Shia crescent is the bastard offspring of our own promiscuously interventionist policy. One had only to look at a map and have a nodding acquaintance with the history and ethno-religious composition of the region to see that post-war Iraq would be vulnerable to Iranian influence and even dominance. To offset this disastrous “blowback,” we are turning on a dime and aligning ourselves – at least rhetorically – with allies of the barbarians who brought down the World Trade Center and murdered some 3,000 Americans. Forgotten in all this maneuvering and backtracking is the security of the United States and the pursuit of legitimate American interests in the region, none of which are served by our reckless, drunken veering from Shi’ite to Sunni “allies.”

At this point, unless the American people wake up in time – which I very much doubt – war with Iran seems all but inevitable. Politically, there is no one of any stature standing up to oppose it, or even to point out that the question of war with Iran is imminent. Ron Paul, alone of all the candidates in both parties, has warned of a Gulf-of-Tonkin-style incident, which could be blown up into a casus belli. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen three months from now. We can’t be sure of when, and yet I am convinced that it is only a matter of time – and not much time, at that – before the third Gulf war begins in earnest, and we enter an entirely new era in the history of this country – and the world. The global conflict the neocons are always eagerly anticipating, and which they call “World War IV,” is about to break out – and it ought to make at least the most thoughtful among us just a little bit queasy that, in the coming struggle with Iran, Osama bin Laden is on our side.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was 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].