Even after Russian President Vladimir Putin made it abundantly clear that his nation finds any threat of a military strike on Iran to be unacceptable, George Bush jokes about "World War III" breaking out if Iran acquires the "knowledge" to produce an atomic bomb. Dick Cheney stepped up and snarled to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: the United States "will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon." Cheney's statement was no doubt an applause line for the über-cons at the Washington Institute who constantly call for the United States to attack Israel's enemies. But for the rest of the world these kinds of threats and saber rattling are pretty scary.
It is almost as if Bush and Cheney wanted to make it clear to Putin and others that they have not a care in the world about what a major power has to say about the possible catastrophe that would ensue if they decide to use American military force in Iran.
World War III? Bring 'em on!
I thought Putin had checked Bush's game by going to Tehran, but Bush and Cheney have simply changed the rules of the game. Instead of threatening to militarily attack Iran if it developed a nuclear weapon, now they say they will attack Iran if it possesses the "knowledge" to produce a nuclear weapon.
This far out notion should be a corollary to the Bush Doctrine of preventive war to stop any nation it deems a threat from developing weapons of mass destruction. Now it is preventive war to stop any nation from developing even the "knowledge" to possibly manufacture a weapon of mass destruction. What next? Preventive war to stop any nation that owns a computer from Googling the word "nuclear?"
When coupled with the Bush Administration's insistence that the United States never talk directly to any nation it disagrees with -- unless that nation already has a deterrent capability such as North Korea -- then this new corollary takes on even more potential danger.
Iran takes these threats seriously (as it should) and will prepare for the imminent U.S. assault. Iran is not Iraq. Iran has powerful friends. When Bush jokes about "World War III" it has a more ominous quality now that Putin has inserted Russia into the Iran equation.
Leading up to a U.S. attack on Iran we might see the following:
First, there will be a propaganda offensive that will emphasize the idea that if the Iranians get the bomb they will immediately turn it over to terrorists who will put it in a suitcase and take out an American city. The administration and its right-wing media allies will amp up that threat with graphic descriptions of what such an event would look like.
Second, anybody who tries to tap down the hysteria about the suitcase bomb scenario will be accused of putting the nation at risk and dismissed.
Third, "common sense" will demand that "we" hit Iran's nuclear facilities or face an American city torched. Bombs Away!
And Hillary Clinton will be in favor of it.
That's a delicious prospect for any Republican going into the 2008 election because it will demoralize the Democratic base and give a big vote of confidence to the Bush Doctrine at a politically opportune time.
Bush has 454 days, 10 hours, and 25 minutes left. Will we allow him to attack Iran before his time is up?