Stop the Next War Before It Starts

It’s time for the antiwar movement to take U.S. threats against Iran and Syria very, very seriously. Not only are stories of such threats appearing at an increasing rate in the media, they now seem to be a topic of concern on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. Condi Rice, war hound that she is, made it quite clear that the White House considers it to be its prerogative to militarily attack these countries if it so desires. We’re not talking covert actions or even armed clashes like those recently reported along Syria’s border with Iraq. We’re talking about an invasion of Syria and/or Iran by air and (probably) land forces.

These attacks will be undertaken in pursuit of regime change, with two main justifications. One excuse will be that both of these countries’ governments are aiding some element of the insurgency in Iraq, either intentionally or by default because they won’t close their borders. The second reason given will be to (we’ve heard this one before) prevent the development and spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The latter excuse is more likely to be believed by the American public, especially in the case of Iran, because the compliant, if not downright collaborationist, U.S. media has already laid the groundwork for the assumption that Tehran has such WMD, wants to develop more, and wants to spread them around the world. In addition, the increasingly tight relationships among certain elements of the Iranian government and certain mainstream political parties in Iraq makes the claim that Tehran is supporting the Iraqi insurgency increasingly difficult to make – at least for now.

Let’s take a look at just a couple of recent statements by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. On Oct. 19, 2005, Rice told a Senate committee that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were part of a plan to “redesign” the Middle East. She also added that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 10 or more years. The reactions to these statements from the senators present varied, although none seemed to oppose the overall strategy presented by Ms. Rice. One GOP senator, George V. Voinovich of Ohio, noted: “We have to level with the American people,” he said. “This is another world war.” Voinovich, who opposed the appointment of John Bolton to the United Nations because Bolton alienated potential U.S. allies in its war for millennial world hegemony, was not so much asking for a change in policy as he was asking for the White House to stop misrepresenting its intentions.

The senator’s concern was seconded from the other side of the aisle by Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Now, to some folks opposed to the war, Obama is a potential ally. However, like Voinovich, it appears that he is not opposed to the project to remake the world (especially those parts where there is oil) in Washington’s image; he is opposed to the current administration’s unilateralism. “This broadening of the mission is disturbing and difficult for us in the Senate to deal with as it requires a leap of faith on our part that a mission of that breadth can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame,” Mr. Obama said. Notice that his concern is with the time frame involved in dominating the world, not with the underlying philosophy that says such a project is the right thing to do. In summation, Washington does intend to change the governments in the Middle East that it opposes. Syria and Iran are the next two countries on the list, and any excuse to change their governments will be utilized, no matter how contrived or flimsy. The insistence by Bush that the UN Security Council must do something immediately in response to Detlev Mehlis’ findings that some elements in the Syrian government may have been involved in the murder of Lebanese businessman Rafik Hariri is but the most recent example. It doesn’t matter how true the charges are: it only matters that they help to instigate the dismantling of the current Damascus government and its replacement with one compatible with U.S. designs for the region.

Obama and Voinovich are but two senators, but unfortunately, with the exception of perhaps two or three members of the House, they represent the strongest opposition in Congress to the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) – the neocons whose blueprint is being used by the Bush administration in its endeavor to dominate the planet. Indeed, the Democrats have similar goals of their own. The title of their plan, which was unveiled during the Kerry campaign for president, is "Progressive Internationalism: A Democratic National Security Strategy" [.pdf]. The Democrats’ paper uses the tragedy of 9/11 as a starting point. It continues by supporting the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq while decrying the fact that no other capitalist country except for Britain is paying the same price for those adventures as the United States is. As it rambles on, the paper emphasizes repeatedly the Democratic Party’s tradition of aggressive military intervention throughout the 20th century: Korea, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Vietnam, the former Yugoslavia, and so on. The intention of this litany is to prove that the Democrats are just as warlike as the GOP’s neocons. As the statement succinctly puts it in one of its early paragraphs: “We therefore support the bold exercise of American power….”

As has been said many times before here and elsewhere, Democrats and Republicans are two sides of the same coin. In recent years, the GOP has proven itself to be a stronger opposition party, while the Democrats seem to fold as soon as they are out of power. The reason for this is simple: the Democratic agenda is so similar to the more aggressive Republican one that it is unable to present any fundamental policy differences, especially when it is not in the driver’s seat. Consequently, it plays a role comparable to that of the good cop in the precinct interrogation room. While the GOP bullies its suspect, the Democratic “opposition” tries to coax him into doing the interrogators’ bidding, whether he’s guilty or not. Then, if he refuses both cops’ efforts, they gang up and beat him until he confesses to anything just to save his life. The similarities between the two parties are certainly greater than the differences, which means that those who oppose these wars can’t count on either one for support. There are a few elected members of each party, however, who have expressed some degree of opposition, and they should be pressured to vocalize it. Those who are beginning to call for a timetable for withdrawal should be moved toward demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal, and those who have yet to even ask for a timetable but have begun to ask questions (even questions like Obama’s) need to be pushed into demanding a withdrawal. Furthermore, no more funding for the wars should be provided.

Back to Syria and Iran. As Ms. Rice made clear, the current administration wants to “redesign” the Middle East. As the Democrats’ blueprint for intervention makes clear, the mainstream wing of that party is also interested in such an endeavor. Just as in Iraq and Afghanistan, both parties are essentially useless to those who oppose any new wars. So what can the antiwar movement do? It should do everything possible to prevent these attacks from ever occurring. Even if it seems pointless, write your senators and representatives (who knows what might happen if enough voters write threatening them with unemployment unless they oppose the wars); inform the public about the growing possibility of these invasions; step up opposition to military recruiting and oppose a new military draft no matter what it’s called. In short, make these potential expansions of the war in the Middle East and Central Asia part of the antiwar program. It is possible to stop these attacks before they occur. If we act properly, there should be millions of people ready to immediately oppose any expansion of the war. However, if the war is expanded to Syria and/or Iran, remember that the explosion of opposition to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in May 1970 created such a state of crisis in the United States that the Nixon administration was forced to officially withdraw from that country.