First, the good news: General Peter Pace will no longer be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His cheerleading for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, his ass-kissing of Donald Rumsfeld (the worst Defense Secretary in American history), and his love letter in behalf of the four-time convicted felon, Scooter Libby, illustrate a level of political hackery on his part that is wholly inconsistent with protecting the neutrality and autonomy of the U.S. military from the vicissitudes of the corrupt politicians who come and go in Washington. Pace will no doubt follow in the footsteps of former general Richard Meyers and move on to rake in enormously lavish sums of cash by serving on the boards of military corporations.
It is the first hopeful development to come out of the Pentagon in years, Admiral William Fallon will replace Pace. Historically, the Navy has been more cautious in its pursuits than the other branches. The Air Force tends to see bombing as the answer to all of the world's problems; the Marines (where Pace comes from) are saddled with the job of charging in without preparing for the possible consequences; and the poor old Army is always left with providing "boots on the ground" for whatever misadventure the politicians cook up. The Navy, at least, often looks to more subtle tools such as blockades and "quarantines" before diving head first into quagmires. With luck, Admiral Fallon will hold at bay the "crazies" and other neo-cons tied to Dick Cheney and AIPAC who are currently lobbying hard for the United States to attack Iran.
Now, the bad news: The calls for a U.S. military assault on Iran are intensifying and there is bipartisan support for keeping this "option on the table" the result of complex domestic political forces. Virtually all of the presidential candidates from both parties have endorsed two principles regarding Iran: 1). Iran must never obtain the capacity to produce nuclear weapons; and 2). The U.S. retains the right to militarily attack Iran whenever it sees fit.
The former UN Ambassador, John Bolton, the cretin with the "eat-your-oatmeal" mustache, recently said: "Regime change or the use of force are the only available options to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability, if they want it." In Commentary magazine, the Pontiff of the Neo-Cons, Norman Podhoretz, penned a screed entitled: "The Case for Bombing Iran." Writes Poddy: "In short, the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to that actual use of military force -- any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938."
Senator Joseph Lieberman said on television on June 10, 2007: "I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me that would include a strike into -- over the border into Iran where . . . we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers." If Iran does not "play by the rules," Lieberman added, then the US will "use our force."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who a year ago was prattling on about "birth pangs" in the Middle East as the U.S. created a failed state in the heart of the Arab world, said that US policy is "a very, very clear signal and a clear statement that all options are on the table." The Jerusalem Post reported on June 10: "Predictions within the US military are that Bush will do what is needed to stop Teheran before he leaves office in 2009, including possibly launching a military strike against its nuclear facilities." The New York Times noted that, "In the Republican Party presidential candidate debate on June 7th, all but one of the ten candidates endorsed, either explicitly or tacitly, the first-strike use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran if deemed necessary." Duncan Hunter went so far as to promise to "authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons" against Iran if he were elected president.
My Iranian friends, who are among the most pro-American people I know, tell me that if Bush fires one cruise missile into Iran their nationalism will surface and they will defend the government. Just as the misguided Reagan policies of supporting Saddam Hussein in his war of aggression against Iran served only to strengthen the government there, any attack will rally the Iranian people against the United States.
Zbigniew Brzezinski and other foreign policy "realists" have warned what a catastrophic error in judgment it would be for the United States to attack Iran. Drawing 70 million Iranians into a shooting war with the U.S., which is already being bled dry in Iraq and is dependent on the good will of the Shia-dominated Baghdad government would constitute an enormous set back to U.S. "strategic interests" in the region. But when has this administration ever demonstrated "good judgment?"
With luck, the neo-cons and AIPACers can be held off so cooler heads may prevail. One thing is certain, Bush will have all of the Democratic leaders jumping through hoops like well-trained circus dogs if he chooses to strike Iran, just as they were one year ago during the 34-day Israel-Hezbollah war.