Who, or What, Will Stop Bush’s Military Attack on Iran?


Recent articles in the Daily Telegraph in England and the Washington Post and New Yorker reinforce the speculation that the Bush Administration will launch a military attack on Iran. Although leading Administration officials from Bush to Secretary of State Rice to UN Ambassador Bolton insist that they are pursuing a diplomatic route to preventing a nuclear Iran, the military “option” remains at the core of the preemptive strikes consistently favored by this rogue Administration. Furthermore, while it may seem preposterous that this discredited right-wing cabal would undertake another military campaign while bogged down in a growing civil war in Iraq, both their previous actions and continual ideological orientation suggest that deliberative diplomacy is trumped by aggressive militarism. So, who, or what, will stop Bush’s military attack on Iran?

One might suppose that, given the Iraq debacle, the corporate media might now be more reluctant to act as conduits and cheerleaders for reckless military action. While there may be some evidence of periodic skepticism, the media’s lack of contextualization and adversarial investigative reporting has led to a recycling of half-truths and lies that framed the disastrous military adventure in Iraq. First and foremost, one hears about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran without being reminded that most intelligence estimates put Iran’s development of a bomb some 5-10 years away. Moreover, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970, Iran has been calling for a nuclear-free Middle East. Given the willingness of Washington to support the robust nuclear-weapons programs in Israel, India, and Pakistan, the focus on Iran obviously is not about nuclear proliferation alone.

After acknowledging that there was a certain “déjà vu” to the US manipulation of the UN Security Council, Russia and China certainly will not act as shills for a hard-line US position that may open the door to legitimating a military option. The UN fig leaf that the Bush Administration desires may be just out of reach again. Nonetheless, the lack of a tough resolution from the UN Security Council will not deter the Bush Administration.

Perhaps the Democrats will stand up as a united body to prevent more military madness? Not so quick. If we are to judge by recent statements from the putative front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Senator Hilary Clinton, Iran should “not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons.” Clinton’s saber-rattling reaches across the aisle in the Senate to join hands with other military hawks like Senator John McCain. Indeed, the bi-partisan commitment to protecting Israel at the expense of another Middle East military miasma raises questions again about the double-standards used by Washington policy-makers.

So, will an outraged citizenry stop this rush to bombing Iran? It certainly has been heartening to see the turn-around in support for the Iraq War and the plummeting confidence in Bush’s war policies. Moreover, communities around the country, most recently in Vermont and Wisconsin, are demanding immediate withdrawal and supporting impeachment. Nonetheless, even as another planned national demonstration grows near on April 29, the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies appear safe in their Iran-bashing, especially given the provocative statements by the President of Iran.

Moreover, the residue of anti-Iranian feeling in the US continues to be stoked by references to Iran’s role as a “terrorist state.” While there are clear Iranian connections to Hezbollah in Lebanon, there are no al-Qaeda links. What troubles the Bush Administration is, of course, the Shiite contacts throughout the region, especially in Iraq. It should not be surprising that the Pentagon is aggressively, albeit clandestinely, promoting sectarian attacks on Shiites, especially by Kurdish-led militias. At the same time, the Bush Administration is courting Turkey for any possible action against Iran and its Kurdish outposts in Iran. All of this double-dealing only underscores how dangerous a military strike against Iran would be.

While stretched thin, the US military still is war-gaming all of the options in Iran. With talk of the underutilization of the air force and navy in Iraq, there have been leaks concerning the use of missile launches from sea and air on scores of reported nuclear facilities in Iran. Of course, there has been no discussion of the devastating “collateral damage” to civilians, especially in the event that the Pentagon uses its own nuclear arsenal. Certainly, there has been grumbling from within the ranks of the military about the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, from demands that Rumsfeld resign to calls by Pentagon supporters, such as Rep. John Murtha, that the military be re-deployed immediately from Iraq. Yet, it seems that there are enough careerists and opportunists in the military who would support an attack on Iran as long as it was limited to sea and air launches.

Of course, the inability of such an attack to be limited in scope, given Iran’s threat to unleash its own attacks throughout the region, may give some pause to both the military and civilian warmongers. Moreover, Iran is already in the process of using the politics of oil to threaten US hegemony in the region by establishing an exchange for trading in euros rather than dollars. For the oil-obsessed Bush Administration, such a move by Iran is more frightening than any long-range nuclear capabilities.

So, what does the future hold? Still promoting its imperial designs for all of the oil regions of the Middle East and Caspian Basin, the Bush Administration obviously covets Iran’s Khuzestan Province, especially since it borders Iraq and holds close to 90% of Iran’s oil reserves. Beyond such economic motivations, the neo-conservative desire to expand the American empire with its attendant military bases and ideological outposts propels these policy-makers who are bereft of any other initiatives. Only a combination of mobilized citizenry and world-wide insurgency can forestall what may seem inevitable. We certainly cannot rely on the rationality of the Bush Administration or the consistency or courage of a Democratic opposition.

Fran Shor teaches historical and cultural studies at Wayne State University. He is the author of Bush-League Spectacles: Empire, Politics, and Culture in Bushwhacked America.