She wants permanent bases in Iraq – and threatens war with Iran
As the war in Iraq metastasizes
into what General
William E. Odom calls "the
greatest strategic disaster in United States history," and the cost
in lives and treasure
continues to escalate, we are already being set up for Act II of the neocons'
Middle East war scenario
– with the Democrats taking up where the Republicans left off.
The Bush administration, for all its bellicose
rhetoric, has shown little stomach for directly confronting Tehran, and
this has prompted
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to take on the Bushies
for supposedly ignoring the alleged threat from Iran. Speaking
at Princeton University on the occasion of the Wilson School's 75th anniversary
celebration, Clinton aligned herself with such Republican hawks as Sen. John
McCain and the editorial board of the Weekly
Standard, calling for sanctions and implicitly threatening war:
"I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the
White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations.
I don't believe you face threats like Iran or North Korea by outsourcing it
to others and standing on the sidelines. But let's be clear about the threat
we face now: A nuclear Iran is a danger to Israel, to its neighbors and beyond.
The regime's pro-terrorist, anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric only underscores
the urgency of the threat it poses. U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal.
We cannot and should not – must not – permit Iran to build or
acquire nuclear weapons. In order to prevent that from occurring, we must
have more support vigorously and publicly expressed by China and Russia, and
we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations. And
we cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the
current leadership of Iran – that they will not be permitted to acquire
Never mind that Iran is 10
years away from actually producing a usable nuclear weapon, according to
the latest National Intelligence Estimate:
"Until recently, Iran was judged, according to February testimony by
Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, to
be within five years of the capability to make a nuclear weapon. Since 1995,
U.S. officials have continually estimated Iran to be 'within five years' from
reaching that same capability. So far, it has not.
"The new estimate extends the timeline, judging that Iran will be unlikely
to produce a sufficient quantity of highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient
for an atomic weapon, before 'early to mid-next decade,' according to four
sources familiar with that finding. The sources said the shift, based on a
better understanding of Iran's technical limitations, puts the timeline closer
to 2015 and in line with recently revised British and Israeli figures. The
estimate is for acquisition of fissile material, but there is no firm view
expressed on whether Iran would be ready by then with an implosion device,
This administration's increasingly
hysterical statements on the alleged "crisis," supposedly sparked
by Iran's resumption of
its nuclear energy program, are – as in the
case of Iraq – at variance with the judgment of the mainstream intelligence
community. Once again, the Bamboozle Brigade – a bunch of freelancing
exile groups, foreign
lobbyists, and a bipartisan collection of pandering politicians –
is mobilizing to gin up a war. These war propagandists, including Clinton, make
only the most tenuous connection between American interests and the Iranians'
alleged forced march to acquire nukes. Instead, they make the argument in favor
of ratcheting up the conflict with Iran in terms of the necessity of protecting
Israel. Clinton's speech is infused with this militant Israeli patriotism:
"The security and freedom of Israel must be decisive and remain at the
core of any American approach to the Middle East. This has been a hallmark
of American foreign policy for more than 50 years and we must not –
dare not – waver from this commitment."
While Israel is an American ally, so are Saudi
Arabia and Jordan.
And don't forget the newly installed "democratic"
pro-American government of Iraq. Israel "at the core" of U.S.
policy in the Middle East? I don't think so. Such an Israelicentric viewpoint,
while not out of place in an
Israeli politician, seems just a mite strange coming from an American –
even if she is a senator from New York. It ought to go without saying that the
foundations of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East – or anywhere else
– have to be predicated on purely American interests, and that the "core"
of that policy has to be our own economic well-being, which is inextricably
linked to the stability of the region.
Do we really want to see the price
of oil skyrocket to over $100 a barrel? Is it really in our interests –
or the interests
of the Europeans, for that matter – for Iranian oil assets to be tied
to the Euro and other currencies, rather than the dollar? The economic consequences
of either eventuality are potentially disastrous for the United States, and
yet that is what the reckless Clintonian
policy of confrontation with Iran would entail. Unfortunately, however,
the grip of the Israeli lobby in the U.S. is so firmly
locked around the necks of certain politicians that any rational discussion
of what serves our interests – not Israel's – is next to impossible.
It is the task of Israel's
amen corner in the U.S. to convince the American public, and especially
to prevail upon their elected representatives, that Israel's interests and our
own always coincide. The propaganda
campaign launched to convince us that Iran's president is the next Saddam
and Tehran is deserving of a little regime-change assumes this, and the Clinton
speech is a prime example: "A nuclear Iran," she avers, "is a
danger to Israel, to its neighbors and beyond" – an interesting order
of priorities, to say the least. She doesn't bother making any explicit connection
between the pursuit of American interests and this relentless campaign to demonize
the Iranians: it is enough that Tehran poses a potential threat to Israel. For
Clinton, that alone is reason enough to go to war.
There is a disturbing quality to Clinton's several reiterations of fealty to
Israel: it isn't only the numbing repetition and the brazen pandering, it's
also the matter-of-fact yet still hectoring tone, the assumption that only one
position is possible:
"One cannot look at the Middle East today and not believe that there
has been progress against great odds. Former sworn enemies of Israel are recognizing
its existence, are even talking about ways of increasing trade, commerce,
and diplomatic relations."
Surely there are more meaningful measures of progress in the Middle East than
diplomatic and economic benefits accrued to Israel – such as, for example,
movement in favor of democracy in the Arab world. But oh no, that wouldn't
do – unless, of course, any such development is explained in terms of
how Israel will gain. A narrower, more sectarian view of the Middle East would
be hard to imagine.
Another of the War Party's talking points on the Iran question is the argument
that a conflict with Tehran is inevitable, a tack taken by the Clinton-Lieberman
wing of the party in seeking to outflank
the Republicans on the Right while placing the blame squarely on Bush's
shoulders: "Part of the problem," says Clinton, is Iran's "involvement
in and influence over Iraq." Yet she has never voiced regret for her
vote in favor of the resolution authorizing the invasion that brought
the pro-Iranian Shi'ite coalition government
to power – far
from it. For her to decry Iranian influence in "liberated" Iraq,
on the one hand, and to continue voicing opposition
to the John
Murtha out-pretty-soon-if-not-now position, on the other, is typical of
her mealy-mouthed, passive-aggressive style of warmongering. Yet her position
is nonetheless clear. Instead of getting out, she wants to use Iraq as a base
from which to threaten Iran:
"I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open-ended commitment
without limits or end, nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of
Iraq immediately. If last December's elections lead to a successful Iraqi
government, that should allow us to start drawing down our troops during this
year while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safe areas with greater
intelligence and quick-strike capabilities. This will help us stabilize that
new Iraqi government. It will send a message to Iran that they do not have
a free hand in Iraq despite their considerable influence and personal and
religious connections there. It will also send a message to Israel and our
other allies, like Jordan, that we will continue to do what we can to provide
the stability necessary to prevent the terrorists from getting any further
foothold than they currently have."
A "quick strike" – against whom? And what could these "safe
areas" be other than permanent military bases? Clinton is the first American
politician to come out squarely in favor of building what amounts to launching
pads for further aggression in the region. This is something even the Bush administration
has been canny about, never acknowledging
plans to lay the groundwork for such bases. Not Hillary, however: she isn't
the least bit shy about her vision of consolidating and projecting American
power all the way to Tehran – and beyond.
She's intent on out-neoconning the neocons – a risky proposition, given
the proclivities of her Democratic base,
but one that she embraces, it seems, as a matter of high principle. If she's
running for the Democratic presidential nomination, she should logically –
in the name of opportunism – tilt left, i.e., toward the antiwar camp.
Yet she is tilting rightward, or, at least, in a distinctly neoconnish
direction: an indication that, in her own mind, she's already the nominee.
Surely such arrogance
Right now, the main political obstacle to the peace movement isn't George
W. Bush and the
Republicans: they are plummeting
in the polls, in part due to voter dissatisfaction with the way the Iraq
war is going, and will be lucky if they can retain control of both houses of
Congress in the next election. The main danger isn't the GOP, it's the DLC –
the Democratic Leadership
Council, one of the main engines of the War Party's influence over the Democratic
elite. It is the DLC that has so far prevented
the anti-interventionist wing of the Democratic Party from asserting itself
at the national level. As the Clintonites, the
Kerryites, the Kos-folk,
and the growing antiwar
caucus draw battle lines in the struggle for the soul of the party, the
is being set for a new manufactured "crisis"
over yet another "rogue
nation" supposedly building "weapons
of mass destruction." One of the first signs of this internecine fight
effort by antiwar Democrats to challenge and oust Sen.
Joseph Lieberman – the most visible
Democratic supporter of the Iraq war, and a longtime
advocate of going after Iran – in the upcoming party primary. One
wonders, however, how these "Kossacks" will react to the increasing
likelihood of Hillary as our commander in chief: although I would love to be
proven wrong, my big fear is that, despite her Amazonian aggressiveness when
it comes to foreign policy, these supposedly "antiwar" Democrats will
find her Xena-like