Monday, February 20, 2012

Who wants a U.S. war on Iran?

That's unfortunately pretty simple: some Israelis and most U.S. Republicans. Not anyone in their right mind. The U.S. military and spook agencies agree -- Iran is nowhere near making a nuclear weapon. Even if the country was bent on going nuclear, it wouldn't necessarily be a threat. After all, U.S. military spending is 98 times more than Iran's.

But the bluster flies about. And unchecked bluster is dangerous. As Middle East analyst Phyllis Bennis explained recently

… the danger, of course, is that this kind of rhetoric can box leaders in, making them believe they cannot back down from their belligerent words.

Yes, that's what is scary about the noisy vilification of Iran. The powers-that-be might lose control of what was supposed to be just rhetoric for the rubes. In The Better Angels of our Nature, Steven Pinker describes the very human instincts that could lead to a terrible mistake:

People, especially men, are overconfident in their prospects for success; when they fight each other, the outcome is likely to be bloodier than any of them thought. People, especially men, strive for dominance for themselves and their groups; when contests of dominance are joined, they are unlikely to sort the parties by merit and are likely to be a net loss for everyone. People seek revenge by an accounting that exaggerates their innocence and their adversary's malice; when two sides seek perfect justice, they condemn themselves and their heirs to strife.

Certainly the experience of the last decade offers no reassurance that these dynamics might not take over.

Fortunately, there are people in power who don't seem to want a U.S. war on Iran. The Obama administration seems to oppose the war hawks. The President says so. I think he means it, most certainly because a major disruption of oil supplies would further inflate gas prices and endanger his re-election. He's got enough problems caused by international oil anxiety already.

And last week, that former administration official and perennial U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross who can be assumed to still have his tentacles in the mix seems to have offered terms to Iran that the proud oil rich state might be able to agree to. Writing in the New York Times, Ross opined:

Iran can have civilian nuclear power, but it must not have nuclear weapons.

That's more or less what Russia and France negotiated a few years back and what the U.S. then rejected. Let's hope our rulers have come to see that it is in everyone's interest to come to a peaceful accommodation.
It also seems worth mentioning that we used to think that going to war required at least acquiescence from the citizens of this country -- what an anachronistic thought! All this bluster presumably is designed to get us to accept yet another foolish and unnecessary war. They'll keep doing this as long as we're suckers for empire ...


tina said...

Better to read what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey said, than to rely on the ugly Dennis Ross.

tina said...

I consider the following article from the Telegraph as a must-read by US citizens.

"Syria's crisis is leading us to unlikely bedfellows"

The writer doesn't distinguish between Republicans and Democrats.