Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm Worrying, and Haven't Learned to Love the Bomb

I'll be honest: the situation in Iran hasn't been on my radar as much as maybe it should. For one thing, Iran, unlike Iraq, actually does pose some danger to the U.S.: unlike Iraq, it actually IS actively seeking nuclear weapons, and unlike Iraq before the war, Iran has a radical Islamic government that conceivably could give a bomb to a terrorist group to use against the U.S. or its allies, especially if its increasingly secular, young population seemed on the verge of toppling the Koranic government. I don't want Iran to have the Bomb, I do think military force is a viable option to prevent Iran from getting the Bomb, and my biggest concern has been that, due to Bush's idiocy involving us in the Iraq debacle, we had lost the option of bluffing Iran into giving up its nuclear program with the threat of an invasion. Basically, the Republican Party has completely given up on Teddy Roosevelt as a role model and now is reduced to speaking loudly and carrying a small stick. But, since an invasion obviously isn't an option and a nuclear strike obviously isn't an option even to neocons, I've tended to see Iran as a distraction, a Fox News election-year PR issue that distracted us from more critical issues like NSA surveillance and the reform of the Democratic Party to ensure that, in the unlikely event we take back Congress in November, we don't utterly screw it up. I've even observed (not hoped for, not liked the prospect of, merely noted) that Bush's use of military force in Iran would be an error of such collossal consequence that it could effect a massive realignment of political forces in the U.S. -- could completely discredit the neocon foreign policy agenda and set the stage for a progressive resurgence lasting a generation. Yes: I'm reluctant to admit it, but the thought has crossed my mind that a huge blunder in Iran would not necessarily be an unmixed blessing. But most of all, I didn't think such a blunder was likely.

Stop yelling at your computer. I'm coming around.

If I reasonably feared Iranian mullahs using the bomb as an apocalyptic, last-ditch effort to retain power or die nobly in the face of a people's revolt against theocratic autocracy, then I should reasonably fear American mullahs doing the same thing. I think the Bush crowd is just crazy enough to start an unwinnable war in Iran, or even use a tactical nuke against Iran's nuclear facilities, either in the hope of holding on to Congress in November or of going out of power in a blaze of glory motivated either by PNAC white papers or the Book of Revelations, or both.

Here are some of the very scary things I'm now thinking about:

(1) Iran is really building a bomb, which no one in the White House wants to be their legacy. That bomb won't be complete for about a decade, but the ideologues in the White House honestly believe God has given them the "portfolio" to reform the Middle East, and they don't trust that future administrations will have the cojones to do it. Their timeline, therefore, isn't the ten years it will take Iran to build a nuke; it's the 1,000 days they have left in office.

(2) Bush refuses to rule out the use of military force, or even nuclear weapons, against Iraq. Bluster? From any other President, sure. Not from this one. Forgive me, but I just don't trust dry-drunk, religious-apocalyptic, demonstrably dishonest, serial war criminals with middle-aged Oedipal complexes to make solid judgments in this area.

(3) There's no longer a bright line between nukes and conventional weapons. Defense planners now refer to "micro-nukes", "mini-nukes" and other diminutives, as if using a "micro-nuke" is somehow less than "fully" committing the crime of using nuclear weapons. Even the smallest of these "micro" weapons is still in the ballpark of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

(4) The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (read: Department of Preemptive War) is planning to explode 1.5 MILLION pounds of high explosive in the Nevada desert, to simulate a small nuke and see whether one could penetrate the Iran nuclear weapons laboratory bunkers. Understand that this isn't a test of a large conventional bomb; it's a conventional dry run for a nuclear attack. In case anyone doesn't believe the Biblically apocalyptic nature of current defense planning, its code name is "Divine Strake."

(5) Bolstering the national defense and fulfilling-prophecy rationales for going to war with Iran, there's always that pesky petroleum thing. The U.S. economy completely depends on two things: cheap oil and ready credit. Iraq made the mistake, a few years back, of announcing that it would become the first OPEC member nation to trade oil in Euros rather than dollars. It's complicated economics, but a serious secondary world market trading oil in an alternative currency has the potential to rapidly deflate the dollar and increase our borrowing costs to the point that the U.S. could literally become bankrupt -- default on its international monetary obligations. Preventing the development of a secondary market trading oil in Euros was a major reason for the Iraq war. Iran has announced plans to open a bourse, or trading market, for its oil... in Euros. And oil prices already are rising in anticipation of the loss of Iranian sources.

(6) The U.S. already has troops on the ground in Iraq, scouting targets for future strikes. Deploying armed troops in another country in anticipation of war is, itself, an act of war. As we did in Iraq, bombing it at unprecedented levels while we pretended to seek peace in the U.N., the U.S. already is engaged in quiet warfare with Iran.

(7) All U.S. supply lines in Iraq run through the southern part of the country -- the area nearest to Iran, occupied by people religiously and culturally allied with Iran, who actually have a new mutual defense treaty with Iran. War with Iran cuts off all supplies and military support to our troops in Baghdad, Fallujah and the rest of Iraq. We can lose two countries with one stupid move.

(8) We're running war game scenarios to prepare for conflict in Iran.

Concerned? Yeah, me too. Want to learn more? Click here and here. Want to sound the alarm and hopefully head off an apocalyptic catastrophe? Try this and this and this.

H/T to and to everyone at the Roots Project who are gearing up on this issue.

Update: the Nevada test is June 2. Randi Rhodes is one voice calling for sufficient publicity to get this test recognized for what it is: not a test of a bigger Daisycutter, but a dry run for a tactical nuclear strike on Iran.

Update 2: Harry Reid is getting ahead of the Senate caucus for a change, stating unequivocally that war with Iran is not a viable option. The G.O.P. already is saying that ruling out war weakens our hand in negotiations with Iran. I have two responses: (1) the only reason Iran, like other nations, is scrambling to build a bomb is that Bush has demonstrated, with North Korea and Iraq, that it will use diplomacy when confronted with a rogue regime that has nukes, and will use force when confronted with a rogue regime that doesn't. Iran wouldn't be building a bomb now if Bush hadn't stupidly designated it part of the "Axis of Evil" when he first took office. Taking force OFF the table would reassure Iran that it doesn't need a nuke in order to be treated responsibly by us. (2) Bush promised to negotiate in good faith, backed by a threat of force only as a very, very last resort, in the runup to Iraq. That's why so many Democrats voted for the Iraq force authorization: to give Bush a last card to play in hopes of AVOIDING war. Bush shoved the Democrats' goodwill in their faces, as he was planning to go to war all along. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice... um... you can't get fooled again.

What To Do: If we want Reid to Lead, we need to praise him when he does. It's just like dog training or childrearing, frankly. Contact info for Sen. Reid follows; get in touch with him by any convenient means, and pat him on the back.

H/T to Pachacutec at FDL, and to the Roots Project participants.

Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader:
Telephone numbers
Main Capitol switchboard number (all Congressional offices): 888-355-3588
D.C. office direct line: 202-224-3542
D.C. office direct line toll-free from Nevada: 866-SEN-REID (866-736-7343)
Carson City office telephone: 775-882-7343
Reno office telephone: 775-686-5750
Las Vegas office telephone: 702-388-5020
Fax numbers
D.C. office fax: 202-224-7327
Carson City office fax: 775-883-1980
Reno office fax: 775-686-5757
Las Vegas office fax: 702-388-5030
Senator Reid webmail link


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