Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Hidden U.S. Plans for War on Iran:
Imminent Danger...and Strategic Stakes
People close to Bush are telling you—if you listen to what they are saying—that the Bush regime is undertaking serious preparations for a war on Iran in 2007. A U.S. attack on Iran may very well involve nuclear weapons, and in any event would take the initial form of a massive bombing attack, with terrible human consequences, and terrible political consequences.
The horrible destruction in Lebanon, the murder of a thousand people and the displacement of a quarter of the population of the country, has been described by Condoleezza Rice as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.” And an attack—again, very possibly a nuclear attack—on Iran would be of far greater magnitude, with the prospect of much greater suffering and death.
The political consequences, in their own way, are just as terrible. In the absence of a visible, powerful movement in this country opposed to the whole Bush Regime, the U.S.-backed Israeli invasion drove even non-religious people in Lebanon into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists. Imagine what a nuclear strike on the world's largest and most powerful Islamic theocracy would set in motion! All this would further strengthen the two poles of U.S. imperialism rampaging the world with Bibles and nukes—on the one hand—and obscurantist religious-fundamentalist forces who are setting the terms for oppositional forces in many of the oppressed nations of the world.
Neither of these two “alternatives” poses anything positive for people of the world. Part of creating conditions for the people of the world to break free of that framework—both in the imperialist countries and in the oppressed nations—is a powerful movement right here, now, against this war and against the whole Bush Regime.
On another level, bringing forward real resistance in this country - resistance that breaks out of the mold of just trying to “register our complaints” with those in power - helps create conditions, along with all-around communist ideological work by revolutionaries - for people to be open to, and to take up a real alternative model for how society can be run. Where people are envisioning and fighting for a world where the tremendous productive resources, and people themselves, are not subordinated to the dog-eat-dog process of extracting profit (including through wars against rebels and rivals), but instead are organized and mobilized to serve the needs of humanity in a way that unleashes individuality and creativity while people consciously change themselves and the world.
The Threat of War on Iran in 2007
In the August 21 issue of The New Yorker magazine, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed information leaked anonymously by people close to, or formerly close to, the Bush administration. Hersh's piece exposed the role of the Bush administration in planning Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and that the war in Lebanon was viewed by the Bush administration as preparation, and a trial run, for a U.S. attack on Iran. Speaking of the Israeli attack on Lebanon, a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel told Hersh. “Why oppose it? We'll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.” (our emphasis)
Hersh reports that “according to a former senior intelligence official, the Israeli plan for Lebanon was ‘the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.’” He reports that this includes, in part, “U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian infrastructure targets inside Iran.” Hersh writes that the Bush administration sees its mission as carrying out this war before it leaves office. A former senior intelligence officer told Hersh that Vice President Cheney’s office pushed Israel to move quickly against Lebanon in the framework of a timetable for U.S. moves against Iran. Hersh says this source told him that Cheney's office “told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’”
While Bush called Hersh's article “wild speculation” (note that he did not say it wasn't true!), political operatives close to Bush are sending signals themselves, and interpreting Bush's position in a way that confirms a war on Iran is a real possibility in early 2007.
William Kristol's newspaper, the Weekly Standard, is a neo-conservative insider's journal for the Bush Regime. In July, he laid out the case for smashing the Islamic Republic of Iran as the key link in the larger Bush/neocon agenda of establishing the U.S. as the sole, unchallenged, and unchallengeable superpower:
“Regimes matter. Ideological movements become more dangerous when they become governing regimes of major nations. Communism became really dangerous when it seized control of Russia. National socialism became really dangerous when it seized control of Germany. Islamism became really dangerous when it seized control of Iran—which then became, as it has been for the last 27 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria (a secular government that has its own reasons for needing Iranian help and for supporting Hezbollah and Hamas), little state sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And no Shiite Iranian revolution, far less of an impetus for the Saudis to finance the export of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam as a competitor to Khomeini's claim for leadership of militant Islam—and thus no Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and perhaps no Hamas either.”
On Fox News (August 22), after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon produced mixed results at best, for the U.S., as a warm-up for a war on Iran, Kristol said, “I think we could be in a military confrontation with Iran much sooner than people expect. I don’t think this is an issue that’s going to wait two and a half years until President Bush leaves the presidency. I think he will decide at some point next year—in 2007—he’ll have to make some very tough decisions about what the U.S. and the world can tolerate in terms of this regime…”
MSNBC's Chris Matthews summed up the situation : “I keep hearing from people on the right—Robert Kagen and Bill Kristol, the guys who are the most hawkish and the most articulate in making their case and they may be right—that at the end of this administration, this hawkish administration—that was willing to go into Iraq and Afghanistan—if this president is not willing to knock out those facilities no future president is likely to do it. We’ll be stuck with a nuclear armed Iran which can rant and rave around that region, threatening Israel, Saudi and everybody else. And we’ll be stuck with it. So their argument is try the diplomatic route, try everything but in the end we have to hit ‘em.” (August 23)
The Nuclear Terror Nightmare—a U.S. Nuclear Attack on Iran
Basic facts: Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons, and is not threatening to use nuclear weapons against the United States. The United States does have nuclear weapons, and is not only threatening their use, but a nuclear attack appears to be a significant element of current U.S. war planning against Iran.
Seymour Hersh’s August 21 piece in the New Yorker reveals that the tactic of mass bombing of civilian infrastructure was a model and test for a U.S. attack on Iran. The strategy was to create enough terror and death that Christian and Sunni Muslim forces in Lebanon would be driven to align with the United States. U.S. military strategists are focused on death from the skies as their strategic approach to a war on Iran. Iran, of course, presents a much more formidable target than Lebanon, and even the massive air assault on Lebanon was not enough to achieve the goals of that attack.
Hersh reported that, “One of the [U.S.] military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran.” And Hersh writes that, “The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.”
Hersh's August 21 piece also says that less extreme tactics (other than nuclear weapons) might be effective if the U.S. knew more about the location and construction of Iranian nuclear energy facilities. But according to Hersh's sources, the U.S. does not have good enough military intelligence for those options to work. He writes that, “The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons.” It appears from Hersh's article that some of his sources are connected with forces in or around the top ranks of elements of the U.S. military who are skeptical that any amount of bombing, even nuclear bombs, will destroy the capacity of the Iranian regime to retaliate and resist a U.S. attack, and are very concerned that the over-stretched U.S. ground forces will get even more deeply bogged down in conflict in the region. But, Hersh reports, in spite of this resistance, “[T]he idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”
Such weapons of mass destruction would create death, destruction, and horrors far beyond what was seen in Israel's U.S.-sponsored war on Lebanon. A former intelligence official told Hersh, “We’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years.”
Who's NOT Gonna Stop This War…
There is a logic to an attack on Iran not only from the standpoint of the neocons and Bush, but for the “opposition” Democratic Party as well. For the neocons, a U.S. dominated Iran is key to radically reshaping the Middle East, come what may. It is a critical part of their articulated vision of the U.S. as the world's new Roman Empire—a sole, unchallengeable superpower. For the Democrats, who may have had reservations about embarking on this adventure in Iraq, or may have regrets about how it worked out, they are—in the words of Al Gore—“lashed to the mast of our ship of state.” Like it or not, they are along for the ride because to bail now would—judged by the interests of U.S. imperialism —represent a major and destabilizing setback for U.S. imperialism.
A revolutionary understanding of the forces driving all this is explored in a very in-depth and strategic way in recent talks by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA—in particular in the talk “Why We’re in the Situation We're In Today…And What To Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution.” That talk, and six other critical recent talks by Bob Avakian, are available for download at bobavakian.net, or revcom.us.
Nobody with any serious impact in the Democratic Party is even raising serious concerns or reservations about the potential horrors and dangers involved in a war against Iran. Look, for example, at the Democrats’ response to the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy's report of U.S. intelligence on Iran. (The report was mainly written by a former CIA officer who had been a special assistant to UN Ambassador John R. Bolton, who opposes any negotiations with Tehran. The New York Times wrote that “the report seems intended to signal the intelligence community that the Republican leadership wants scarier assessments that would justify a more confrontational approach to Tehran.” Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern characterized the report as a “challenge set before the Intelligence Community ... to get religion, climb aboard, and 'recognize' Iran as a strategic threat.” [See “WMD Lies All Over Again”])
Did the Democrats in Congress immediately denounce this report as a call for concocted “evidence” justifying a war with Iran? Did they at least express worry and concern that this was the WMD hoax all over again? No. Most said nothing, but they let the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence subcommittee, Rush D. Holt, represent for the Democrats. He said, “What you have that is new here is an attempt to bring the body of information that is available into one place to present to the American people.” (Time magazine, 8/24). And the New York Times quoted Holt saying that “some in the intelligence community are a bit gun-shy about appearing to be warmongering.” (8/24).
Holt's endorsement of the report, and concerns that the “intelligence community” is “gun-shy” about “appearing to be warmongers” might sound simply mealy-mouthed if the whole context is not taken into account. But it represents an endorsement of this whole approach by the Democratic Party. Here you have the hawks in Congress demanding that the intelligence services “get religion,” as Ray McGovern insightfully put it, and cook the books to justify war on Iran a la the role they played in the whole “Weapons of Mass Destruction” lie that was used to justify the war against Iraq. In this context, Holt's endorsement of the report—the only substantial response by congressional Democrats—aligns the Democrats with the whole “let's create a new hoax to start a war” process. The Wall Street Journal wrote in an August 24 editorial, “Anyone who still thinks a nuclear-armed Iran won't pose a serious, and perhaps mortal, threat ought to consult this week's bipartisan staff report from the House Intelligence Committee.” (our emphasis).
The endorsement, or endorsement in the form of silence, from leading Democrats, is in line with the Democrats’ strategy of positioning themselves as tougher on “national security.” In mid-August, the Democratic Party ran a TV ad claiming that Iran is "developing nuclear weapons.” (The ad was withdrawn after protests by Latino organizations who objected to the ad's association of Latino immigrants with terrorism.)
In spring 2004, Senator John Kerry told the Washington Post that the Bush Administration has not “been tough on the [Iran] issue…” (May 29, 2004), and Nancy Pelosi’s position earlier this year was that “For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.” (Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, May 24, 2005.) And Democratic Senator Barack Obama, who many progressive people have deluded themselves into seeing as an opponent of the Bush agenda, told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 that "[T]he big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures [to stop its nuclear program], including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point…if any, are we going to take military action?”
Who CAN put a HALT to all this…and HOW
In his powerful protest song “Ohio,” written in response to the National Guard murder of protesters at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970, Neil Young sang, “How can you run when you know?”
If you've read this far, you know. A terrible danger confronts the world—as we said in the beginning of this article, a terrible cost in human life, and a terrible political setback in terms of locking the world into a confrontation between McCrusade and Jihad.
There is no opposition to this from the Democratic Party. Kerry, Dean, Pelosi, and Obama are on record demanding that Bush get tough with Iran!
The initial call from World Can't Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime included the following:
“That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.”
And the statement “October 5: There is a Way! There is a Day!” from World Can't Wait says:
“Imagine if, from out of this huge reservoir of people, a great wave were unleashed, moving together on the same occasion, making, through their firm stand and their massive numbers, a powerful political statement that could not be ignored: refusing that day to work, or walking out from work, taking off from school or walking out of school—joining together, rallying and marching, drawing forward many more with them, and in many and varied forms of creative and meaningful political protest throughout the day, letting it be known that they are determined to bring this whole disastrous course to a halt by driving out the Bush Regime through the mobilization of massive political opposition.
“If that were done, then the possibility of turning things around and onto a much more favorable direction would take on a whole new dimension of reality.
“It would go from something only vaguely hoped for, by millions of isolated individuals, and acted on by thousands so far, to something that had undeniable moral force and unprecedented political impact.”
Right now, a bad dynamic is in effect—and far too many people feel paralyzed. They don't see any “cracks” in the ruling structure. The “options” for people are still framed as choosing between McWorld and Jihad. People don't see a force of people like themselves out there creating the “undeniable moral force” that World Can't Wait is calling for.
But if everyone who said “I wish there was such a force” throws themselves heart and soul into the movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime, takes up building for the October 5th mobilizations—which will put the movement to drive out the Bush Regime on a whole new level—then there would be such a force. And the emergence of a massive movement determined to drive out the Bush Regime would in turn impact the situation among the rulers of this society, opening up more potential for the movement of the people to develop that would actually bring the whole Bush agenda to a HALT.
There are a thousand and one reasons calling out to people to build a powerful movement to bring the crimes of the Bush Regime to a halt, and to launch that movement onto a whole new level on October 5th. But the real, imminent danger and potential horrors of a U.S. attack on Iran, very possibly involving nuclear weapons, is reason enough for everyone with a critical mind and conscience to throw themselves whole-heartedly into that movement. Now.
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