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Why All of Our Efforts Won't Stop an Attack on Iran

Garry Leupp | 20.05.2008 21:05 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Terror War | World

Now there's no feasible political recourse to stop an attack on Iran. And little time to mobilize mass demonstrations against it. It will come as a thief in the night, presented to the American people as a fait accompli. As the Bush-Cheney cowboys ride off into the sunset, smirkin' and grinnin' and slapping each other's backs, the people will start to pay.

May 9. I read tonight a brief article by Philip Giraldi posted on the
American Conservative website: "War with Iran Might Be Closer than You Think [1]."

"There is considerable speculation," writes the former CIA officer, "and
buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has
agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods
[Revolutionary Guards]-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi
militants. The camp that will be targeted is one of several located near

Giraldi provides details. He reports that the meeting came as "the direct
result" of Hizbollah advances in Lebanon in recent days. (Recall that the
U.S. State Department lists the Shiite organization Hizbollah as "terrorist"
and as a tool of both Iran and Baathist Syria. In fact it is probably the
country's largest and most popular political party and has built significant
ties with some Christian and Sunni groups. Hizbollah's rapid seizure of the
Muslim sections of Beirut, accomplished with little resistance, may have
been deliberately provoked by the U.S.-backed quasi-government of Lebanon
when the latter shut down the party's private communications network.)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to Giraldi, was the only senior
official present urging delay. That suggests that the military is not
enthusiastic about a widened war in Southwest Asia, but that the other
regular members of the NSC (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Treasury
Secretary Henry Paulson, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley as well as
President Bush and Vice President Cheney) are willing to provoke just that.

They will do what they do with the solid backing of Congress, the
presidential candidates, and the mainstream press which if history is our
guide will for a time shape shockingly malleable public opinion. Yes, I fear
that we (most of us) will be fooled again.

The Congress has passed near-unanimous resolutions against Iran, endorsing
the administration's unprecedented designation of a component of a nation's
military as a "terrorist organization." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be
on board the program. Recall how after the Democratic victory two years ago
she capitulated to AIPAC by stripping from a military spending bill the
requirement that Bush seek Congressional approval before attacking Iran.
(That was after she'd pointedly declared that Bush-Cheney impeachment
hearings were "off the table." And after Rep. John Conyers, head of the
House Judiciary Committee and sometimes maverick, bitterly disappointed
those pinning their hopes on him by going along with the Democratic
leadership's line. And after the Democrats had made it clear they weren't
serious about ending the war they'd been elected to end---showing us how
very well the democratic system works in this country.)

John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton (all of whom agree that an
attack on Iran is "on the table") will publicly approve. The media will call
upon the same "military analysts"/military industry consultants who have
been disseminating Pentagon propaganda for pay since 2002 to explain why the
attack is justified and necessary. The main talking-point has been decided:
"Iran is killing American soldiers in Iraq." Public opinion polls will show
the public divided, but a majority in support of the action because,
regardless of their feelings about the war in Iraq, they want to "support
our troops" and after all, Iran was asking for it by interfering in Iraq and
attacking us.

All the "exposure" that so many journalists and academics have tried to
provide for years will have failed to prevent another illegal attack on a
sovereign nation based on lies and bound to produce more outrage against the
U.S. throughout the world. A cruise missile strike on an alleged training
camp site won't end there. It will be designed to provoke an Iranian
response and legitimate further U.S. attacks, not only on Iran but Syria and
Lebanon, probably in coordination with Israel. Some in Israel badly want the
U.S. to behead all their main enemies in the region before their good friend
George Bush leaves the White House. If that means regional chaos---clashes
between Iranian and U.S. forces, the fall of the Maliki puppet regime in
Baghdad (which actually is friendly with Tehran and says it's playing a
positive role in Iraq), the collapse of Shiite cooperation with the U.S.
occupation, Iran-Iraq border clashes, U.S. forays into Iranian territory,
the closing of ranks in fractious Iran against the imperialist assault on
their country---so be it!

If it means renewed war in Lebanon including Israeli invasion, an Iranian
shift from supporting U.S. puppet Karzai to Iran's longtime enemy the
Taliban in Afghanistan, active Syrian support for Sunni forces in Iraq, the
disintegration of the fragile Sunni-"Coalition" alliance against al-Qaeda in
western Iraq as the region descends into a Shiite-Sunni war---so be it! If
it means the use of nuclear weapons against Iran to try to cow its leaders
and people into accepting a U.S.-Israeli blueprint for the region---so be
it! If it means the unthinkable in the U.S.--a return to the draft---so be
it! All of this will at least have prevented the "nuclear holocaust" that
the neocons, Cheney and Bush have been insisting the Iranians plan to
inflict on the Jewish state unless they are stopped now. (No matter that all
the U.S. intelligence agencies in their National Intelligence Estimate on
Iran published late last year agreed that Iran does not now have a nuclear
weapons program. And no matter that the Ahmadinejad quote about "wiping
Israel off the map" has been exposed as a lie by Juan Cole and others.)

If Benjamin Netanyahu is Israeli prime minister at the time of the planned
attack on Iran, a time of apocalyptic confusion might be the perfect
opportunity to empty the West Bank of its Palestinians. This NSC agreement
"in principle" to attack Iran is an agreement to risk all these
ramifications, confident that the press and politicians will cooperate.

* * * * *

So often in recent months I've started to write a column exposing some
recent lie (or at least some report pertaining to Iran or Syria that strikes
me as obvious neocon-generated disinformation) only to give up midway
through. Not because of writer's block, fatigue, or even the thought that
"Someone else has already written this, or someone like Alex Cockburn or
Justin Raimondo or Scott Ritter or Gordon Prather will in the next day or
so." It's more a matter of despairing at how much exposure can accomplish.

A friend of mine was saying last month, "People are `exposured' out. They're
"Chomskyed" out." He was speaking about young antiwar activists mainly, but
his point was that people who know what's going on are eager to act on the
knowledge. To paraphrase Marx, the point is not to expose the world, or have
it further exposed to you, but to change it.

The readership of sites like Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, and
know the main points. They know that Dick Cheney, the most powerful vice
president in history (and the most secrecy-obsessed among powerful figures
in U.S. history), has made his office the hub of a cabal of neocons
hell-bent of effecting "regime change" throughout Southwest Asia by the end
of Bush's second term. They know that the Office of Special Plans fabricated
"intelligence" to terrify the masses and gain support for the invasion of
Iraq. They know that U.S. intelligence has actually concluded that Iran has
no nuclear weapons program, and that the UN's IAEA scientists have found no
evidence for one. But they also know that Cheney insists that he knows
there's one, just as the neocons such as Norman Podhoretz and Michael Ledeen
know there's one. Just as top Israeli officials know there's one as they
demand U.S. action against Iran. They know there's a huge anti-Iran
propaganda campaign underway very similar to the one that preceded the lie
campaign leading up to the Iraq War now in its disastrous sixth year. They
know that the U.S. is funding terrorist groups to carry out attacks in Iran.
They know that the administration's allegations about a Syrian nuclear
program are highly dubious.

They know that there are conflicts between the traditional intelligence
community and the neocons, and that the latter draw upon a coherent
(Straussian) philosophy that justifies the "noble lie" in order to induce
the foolish masses to support what the "wise"---who must conceal their real
objectives---want them to support. They distrust anything the administration
says about Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan...

Yes, they're "Chomskyed out."

Maybe we need to shift the focus of exposure a bit. From the particular to
the general. From nasty individuals to nasty institutions. From the symptoms
to the system.

What's worse? Cheney and his attorney David Addington crafting a document in
November 2001, bypassing routine staff review before receiving Bush's
signature, which denied "foreign terrorist" suspects in the U.S. access to
any courts and allowing for their indefinite detention? (This was exposed by
Barton Gellman and Jo Becker in the Washington Post last summer.) Or the
failure of the elected officials in Congress to even start impeachment
proceedings against Cheney and Bush?

What's worse? John Yoo writing up his torture memos in 2002 as a Justice
Department employee, as eventually exposed in the mainstream press? Or the
decision of the trustees of the University of California, Berkeley to hire
him as a law professor in 2003?

What's worse? Judith Miller's willingness to funnel disinformation to the
American people through her NYT articles before and after the Iraq invasion?
Or the Time's willingness to publish them, and now those of her sometimes
co-author Michael Gordon, cheerleading the coming Iran attack?

The Congress, the Justice Department, academia, and the press are all
complicit in imperialist war and attacks on the Constitution. Does this mean
the system isn't working, or that it's working all too well?

Is the system supposed to expose itself, through congressional hearings,
investigative reporting, war crimes trials? Or is it, serving the small
minority it's designed to serve, supposed to simply tolerate exposure (in
the name of freedom of the press) while saturating citizens with propaganda?
(If the exposure ever gets widely enough disseminated, and threatens to
undermine its objectives, it can always "kill the messenger"---or at least
accuse the writer of undermining national security, abetting terrorism,

Voting for "antiwar" Democrats two years ago didn't end the war. Even
millions in the streets, peacefully demonstrating as the system encourages,
didn't prevent the assault on Iraq over five years ago. Now there's no
feasible political recourse to stop an attack on Iran. And little time to
mobilize mass demonstrations against it. It will come as a thief in the
night, presented to the American people as a fait accompli. As the
Bush-Cheney cowboys ride off into the sunset, smirkin' and grinnin' and
slapping each other's backs, the people will start to pay.

A character in Bertolt Brecht's The Beggar's Opera asks what's
worse---robbing a bank, or owning a bank? The system itself, that is to say,
is the criminal product of wrongly acquired wealth, much of it obtained
through imperialist war. Exposure alone, no matter how voluminous, eloquent
and persuasive, will not change it.


Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct
Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands
and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan [2] ; Male Colors: The
Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan [3] ; and Interracial
Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900 [4] . He is
also a contributor to CounterPunch's merciless chronicle of the wars on
Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades [5] .

He can be reached at:


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