Pretext for War

Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:38 AM

No big commentary on my part. Just want to pass along William Pfaff's remarks below from Paris concerning Iran and the wider "clash of civilizations". Recall what Pfaff wrote about Iraq early last summer (June 29th) while attending a foreign policy conference in Venice composed of "Washingtonians" and Europeans:

I found my conversations in Venice intensely interesting, disturbing, and unbelievable. I certainly can see no easy way out of Iraq, as there will be no way to “Iraqize” the war the way the Vietnam war was “Vietnamized.” There will be no Iraq government or governments in office between now and the next American presidential election able or willing to take over the war and let the Americans go....  In my dissenting view...before the end of George W. Bush’s term, Iraq will have an anti-American government, a product of the insurrection or of its repression, or no government at all, or a civil war about which the United States will be able to do nothing. The American choice will be made between defeat, politically unacceptable, or massive reinforcement and reconquest of Iraq, also politically unacceptable, and futile as well.

In passing, Pfaff mentions below the godfather of the "neocons", Norman Podhoretz, whom Pfaff describes as a "pro-Israel zealot".  Please bear in mind that Podhoretz, who is alive and kicking, is the father-in-law of Elliot Abrams, who is in charge of America's foreign policy in the Middle East from his seat on the National Security Council. Abrams does this from offices at the White House.

Abrams like Podhoretz is a "pro-Israel zealot" in spades. I don't blame Podhoretz and Abrams for being themselves. I do blame Cheney and Bush Jr. for going along with it and for deliberately stacking their Co-Consulship with "neocons" and Likud acolytes. As a consequence, the train wreck for America is an inside job.


Arms, Iran, and Attack

William Pfaff / February 14th, 2007 /

Paris, February 13, 2007-- The discovery of the obvious is not a convincing casus belli, and the recent presentation in Baghdad of munitions of Iranian origin found in Iraq, merited comparison with Claude Raine’s declaration that he was “shocked, shocked!” when told that gambling took place in Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca saloon. Some critics of the George W. Bush administration, some specialists in Iranian arms, and some reporters have been skeptical about the Baghdad presentation, but I would think it perfectly reasonable for Iran to supply weapons to the Shia militias and insurgents in Iraq.

The United States has been trying to overthrow Iran’s Islamist government since 1979. It has successfully organized UN Security Council sanctions against the country for its nuclear activities, and sponsors opponents of the regime, anti-regime propaganda and political warfare activities. American agents allegedly have been inside Iran promoting resistance among the Kurdish and Turkic-speaking minorities. Since the beginning of 2007, Washington and Tel Aviv have been trumpeting threats against Iran, and circulating rumors of bombing attacks--even nuclear ones--to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.

It would seem obvious that within the limits imposed by concern for regional stability, the Iranians would do whatever they can to make the American occupation of Iraq as costly as possible. Even if they are caught doing it, they can assume this would make little difference to a Bush administration and Israeli government determined to attack Iran--whatever the American public thinks.

On February 8, former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the administration may intend to attack. He described a sequence of actions that could furnish “a pretext for war.” He said that in administration circles and among its neoconservative allies “a mythical historical narrative” is being spun to justify war. It claims that Iraq and Iran are part of “the decisive ideological struggle of our time,” in succession to Nazism and Stalinism, an idea that was first put forward by the American pro-Israel zealot Norman Podhoretz. (Podhoretz was also the first to redefine anti-semitism as criticism of Israeli government policy, now all the rage in right-wing American Jewish circles.)

This is pernicious balderdash. It is historical gibberish to compare the separate attempts of two totalitarian great powers -- one of them, Germany, probably the most important industrial state of the pre-war era, and the other a postwar nuclear power -- to establish world-dominating positions, with the phenomenon of Islamic extremism, a minor force inside contemporary Islamic society, and a negligible one outside the third world.

The construction of this mythical narrative rests upon a naïve conception of international progress that has been accepted and celebrated by past Democratic administrations and liberal political forces, as well as American business conservatives and ideological neo-conservatives. This holds that an increasingly globalized and integrated world society is marching unstoppably towards universal prosperity and democracy: as the New York Times writer Roger Cohen has forecast, “a century that will make a diverse world more unified, prosperous and free than ever before.”

This simplistic faith in progress invites an equivalent exaggeration, and diabolization, of whatever challenges it. Thus the neo-conservatives have seized upon the Islamist fantasy of recreating a great caliphate that would include the Mideast, Africa, Spain, Islamized Britain, Mediterranean and Balkan Europe, and the Near East on to Central Asia. Malaysia, Indonesia, and (why not?) ex-Moghul India could be part of it. Even Muslim China and Mindanao (where American army advisors are already alongside the Philippine army to fight the Muslim separatists that the same American army failed to defeat in 1899-1913); our great-grandfathers’ “Moro rebels” are now identified by the Bush administration as a “terrorist movement.”

It is not a joke, though, that in important western political and policy circles people are amalgamating the war in Iraq, now essentially sectarian, religious and tribal, and the struggles in Lebanon and Palestine with Hamas and Hezbollah (hence indirectly with Iran and Syria), with NATO’s war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the war against terrorist bands in East Africa and Arabia, the war against the “Islamic Courts” in Somalia, Sudan’s humanitarian crisis in Darfur and attendant struggles among political factions in Chad and the Central African Republic--and the “war” against disaffected Muslim youths in British, French and German ghettos. All is seen as making up an integrated and titanic global struggle which will make it necessary for America to be mobilized for generations--and in the immediate future to bomb Iran.

If that is not a sufficiently intimidating prospect, consider that an Israeli attack on Iran, which inevitably would produce Iranian retaliation against American forces in the region, or the deliberate American provocation whose possibility Brzezinski noted in his Senate testimony, could set this whole conflagration going, to the patriotic acclaim of part of the American public, all of the neo-conservatives, and to the (short-lived) satisfaction of Richard Cheney and George W. Bush.

Copyright 2007 by Tribune Media Services International