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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


further reports of eventual american military action against iran

there have been any number of speculative reports regarding an imminent american attack on iran. so far, none have panned out. hopefully, we'll be able to add this one to that pile in six months or so.

Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who concluded a trip to Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for.

The official reportedly went on to say that "the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice" was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic for the time being.

The Army Radio report, which was quoted by The Jerusalem Post and resonated widely, stated that according to assessments in Israel, the recent turmoil in Lebanon, where Hizbullah has de facto established control of the country, was advancing an American attack.

Bush, the official reportedly said, considered Hizbullah's show of strength to constitute evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's growing influence. In Bush's view, the official said, "the disease must be treated - not its symptoms."

However, the White House on Tuesday afternoon dismissed the story.

the administration's unabashedly belligerent and fear-mongering public campaign against iran, one hopes, is designed to revitalize the "war footing" that it has relied on since september 11 2001 to provide demotic backing for the carrying out of twin agendas -- global energy supply procurement and expanding the de facto powers of the imperial presidency. the ridiculous meme of imperial iran has found a home in the discourse of the nationalist party as a form of freudian projection in the united states, the uk and israel alike (which are, not coincidentally, the three primary beneficiaries of the anglophone imperial order, sometimes euphemized as 'globalization', which has conspicuously dominated international affairs since 1815).

it is normal in my view for democracies in particular to be ruled by the dominant minority through the cultivated popular perception of fear, that most reliable of collective motivations. so militant and radicalized has the campaign for fear of iran (and indeed several of the political entities that lie outside effective anglophone control) become that it finds even the suggestion of communication (much less the material concession upon which the entire concept of diplomacy is founded) intolerable, misguidedly casting about for parallels to the rise of european fascism and remaking negotiation into the original sin of 'appeasement'.

one wonders what is left to settle disagreements if mere discussion is to be ruled out until the other side concedes unilaterally to demands. are we really so afraid that we may walk into another 'munich moment', as it seems every western nationalist opines publically? it is easy for the fearful to forget that, in spite of munich, what some call 'appeasement' is how 99% of all disputes are finally settled peacefully. one 'appeases' the used car dealer when hammering out a price; one 'appeases' one's spouse when figuring out how to split the duties of a household. indeed one of the most reliable indications of dangerous and potentially violent political radicalism is its aversion to the many good and positive forms of 'appeasement', which also go under names like 'diplomacy', 'negotiation', and 'compromise'. where does that put recent commentary from the western right regarding iran on the political -- and moral -- spectrum?

in any case, if one presumes that the sturm and drang is for the management of public expectation and not prelude to actual operation, one must note that the initial sales job -- reliant on terrorism and the linking of iraq and north korea to terrorism -- has fallen flat as evidenced by the disastrous public opinion polling of the administration which make it out to be one of the least admired presidencies in the national history, both domestically and internationally. continuing further down this path can only be seen as a continuation of a bad sales pitch, with the exception of consolidating the bloodyminded political base of imperialists, nationalists and ultranationalists upon which the administration relies for any foreign policy support at all.

that said, the attempt to carry western paranoia to the doorstep of iran also seems to be modestly successful if lacking great traction. see this from, which indicates a deeply negative public opinion of iran in america but one which is stable. earlier gallup polling from november 2007 showed that concern over the administration's aggressiveness against iran outweighed concern over iranian nuclear technological development -- a margin that was then growing. public opinion has been heavily against military action. but the stage has nevertheless been adroitly set for a polarizing incident to turn the vicissitude and bloodlust of americans in favor of bombs over iran. indeed one could argue that attempts have been made to manufacture such an incident in the press.

with republican fears of an all-consuming destruction of the grand old party in november heightened by losses in special elections in what had been reliably republican districts, there can be no doubt that the party must have a very compelling catalyst to back any military action in order to prevent any prospect of popular aversion to military action from turning into an historic firestorm of antirepublican rage. whether or not they get it is unpredictable, as is whether or not a lame-duck administration with a record of reality-defying zealotry would hesitate for lack of one.

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