'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, October 04, 2007


With each passing day, there are more and more reports about the planning of airstrikes against Iran. Over the weekend, Seymour Hersh published a comprehensive article on the subject, with a retired CIA official observing: They're shifting everyone to the Iran desk.

More troubling was his description of the anticipated air campaign itself:

The revised bombing plan for a possible attack, with its tightened focus on counterterrorism, is gathering support among generals and admirals in the Pentagon. The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes, including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities.

“Cheney’s option is now for a fast in and out—for surgical strikes,” the former senior American intelligence official told me. The Joint Chiefs have turned to the Navy, he said, which had been chafing over its role in the Air Force-dominated air war in Iraq. “The Navy’s planes, ships, and cruise missiles are in place in the Gulf and operating daily. They’ve got everything they need—even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf.” There are also plans to hit Iran’s anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile sites. “We’ve got to get a path in and a path out,” the former official said.

A Pentagon consultant on counterterrorism told me that, if the bombing campaign took place, it would be accompanied by a series of what he called “short, sharp incursions” by American Special Forces units into suspected Iranian training sites. He said, “Cheney is devoted to this, no question.”

A limited bombing attack of this sort “only makes sense if the intelligence is good,” the consultant said. If the targets are not clearly defined, the bombing “will start as limited, but then there will be an ‘escalation special.’ Planners will say that we have to deal with Hezbollah here and Syria there. The goal will be to hit the cue ball one time and have all the balls go in the pocket. But add-ons are always there in strike planning.”

This is a shockingly sanguine perspective about the consequences of undertaking any military action against the Iranians. It assumes that the Iranians have no military capability, conventional, assymetrical or otherwise, to respond to the air strikes. It additionally assumes that there will be no public hostility in the Middle East and elsewhere. As usual, it is based upon the arrogant belief that the US has the ability to decide when the conflict begins and when it will end. Saddam Hussein displayed a similar arrogance when he invaded Iran in 1980 before being humbled over the course of an eight year war.

Others are much more pessimistic, as reported here previously. Jorge Hirsch, a physicist at UC San Diego, believes that such a conflict has a high probability of escalating into one the will induce the US to use tactical nuclear weapons, with frightening consequences. Philip Giraldi, a retired CIA officer, asserts that the conflict could rapidly spiral out of control, resulting in the use of nuclear weapons by the US, India and Pakistan. Conservative retired military officer William Lind maintains that the world is approaching the precipice of a catastrophic conflict like World War I, a conflict in which tens of millions died as it shattered the existing global order.

There are some encouraging signs that, contrary to Hersh, there is resistance within the military to going forward. According to Dana Priest of the Washington Post during a live discussion last week:

West Chester, Pa.: History seems to be repeating it self as the drumbeat for war with Iran, based on accusations not backed up by any facts, intensifies. Do you think the Bush administration will launch a war (perhaps sending only the bombers) against Iran and if they do what are the likely consequences for the Middle East?

Dana Priest: Frankly, I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions. This is a little bit of hyperbole, but not much. Just look at what Gen. Casey, the Army chief, said yesterday. That the tempo of operations in Iraq would make it very hard for the military to respond to a major crisis elsewhere. Beside, it's not the "war" or "bombing" part that's difficult; it's the morning after and all the days after that. Haven't we learned that (again) from Iraq?

Glenn Greenwald, over at Salon, the person who noticed Priest's starting comment, has described a couple of instances of internal opposition to the attacks within the US military.

As I have said here previously, a rebellion within the military against the commander in chief, President Bush, is the only thing that can stop this war with certainty. Last week, an overwhelming coalition of Republicans and Democrats provided Bush with the justification for attacking Iran.

Liberals, and people within mainstream politics generally, are frightened by the prospect of military disobedience. If forced to choose between the war going forward, or a refusal by the soldiers within the military to carry out the orders of President, they would choose the war. They would allow the US to launch a conflict that could result in the deaths of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, and the destruction of the fabric of Iranian society, if not others within proximity, as has already transpired in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In other words, when the order is given to put the planes in the air, it is essential that, from top to bottom, from generals to majors to sergeants to privates, the recipients disobey. And, upon doing so, they must make their disobedience publicly known. It will no doubt be very difficult, as they face the prospect of ostracism, expulsion from the military, personal hardship and possible criminal prosecution.

The alternative, however, is to align oneself with the violent, homicidal policies of a messianic sociopath. This is one of those instances where individuals, one by one, through the accumulation of their personal, moral decisions to disobey the President, can, literally, change the course of history for the better. By doing so, they can encourage all of us to reject that pervasive sense of powerlessness that enables this President and his associates to act to dominate and destroy others without restraint.

Labels: , , , , , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?