Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Listen up, peace movement: Washington going rogue again?


One of the ways I keep from being overwhelmed by the media fire hose spewing an endless flood of "news" is that I ignore any story that seems on its face absurd or simply sensational. If it is really going to be worth knowing about, it will be around long enough so eventually I can catch the gist. Examples? It took me years to catch up with the rudiments of the stories of JonBenet Ramsey and Caylee Anthony. Nor have I kept up with the continuous drip of reports of stupidly conceived aspirational terror plots that usually seem to involve FBI informants and ridiculous "plans."

Naturally, I responded to Attorney General Holder's announcement of an Iranian Quds Force-Mexican drug cartel scheme to murder the Saudi Ambassador to Washington as just more of the same. The material the government has produced about the comic opera scenario seems to be full of holes. Foreign policy and intelligence pros reacted with strong skepticism.

As Adam Server points out,

The assassination was never going to take place. On Tuesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller described Iranian American Mansour Arbabsiar's alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States as straight out of a "Hollywood script." In a sense he was right—because the plot was controlled from the beginning by the FBI.

Nothing to see here, right?

Well, unhappily, this is not so easy.

What's all too visible is that the administration is sticking with its story and using the alleged plot to try to ratchet up international condemnation of Iran. That seems to me the important story: for whatever reason, the administration is willing to sell this crackpot story to push forward its Iran policy.

Now the Iranian regime frequently behaves badly. But so do our rulers. They don't care that nobody except those paid to believe what Washington says (for example, Saudi owned media, and core allies of the empire like the British government) seems to credit this conspiracy tale. The whole thing is reminding far too many more objective observers of a certain U.N. appearance by General Colin Powell in the run up to George W. Bush's Iraq invasion. Are Mexican drug cartels the new mobile chemical weapons labs? This certainly seems possible.

What's in this for the administration? Pre-election appeasement of the pro-Israel lobby? A nice little war scare that takes right-wing talking points off the 2012 agenda?. A rather desperate grab at an alternative reality in which Iran really is the isolated international pariah of Washington's imagination?

None of this makes much sense -- but neither did Bush's Iraq war. For months before that invasion, thoughtful people kept saying to each other something that amounted to "they wouldn't be that stupid." But they were.

We may be entering upon another such moment as the Obama administration's Iran policy limps along. Even as we condemn Wall Street greed and demand a jobs agenda, people who care about peace and national sanity need to keep an eye out for the real danger of yet another projection of U.S. power by leaders who can't seem to learn their lessons.

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