Has there ever been a more brazen display of a foreign government dragging a more powerful nation into a war not of its own choosing? I'm talking about the almost comical efforts by the Israelis to goad Washington into attacking Iran: the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu has done everything and then some to put pressure on the Obama administration to act. The latest display of overt manipulation was recently featured on Israeli television:
"Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 'is determined to attack Iran before the US elections,' Israel's Channel 10 News claimed on Monday night, and Israel is now 'closer than ever' to a strike designed to thwart Iran's nuclear drive. ...The report added that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe Obama would have no choice but to give backing for an Israeli attack before the US presidential elections in November."
Imagine, for a moment, Another Obama, one who exists in an alternate universe where American Presidents don't kowtow to the demands of pipsqueak nations with delusions of grandeur -- especially those whose security and prosperity are entirely dependent on our generosity. This Obama would answer these blackmailers with an unequivocal statement that the Israelis are on their own if and when they attack: that the US will not lift a finger to help them -- no, not even if Israel itself comes under attack, as it will.
This imaginary Obama, of course, does not exist, and has no chance of existing, not even for a moment. This President will continue to subordinate American interests in order to placate the powerful Israel lobby because there are influential elements within his own party -- his Secretary of State, for one -- who are with Netanyahu.
By launching their public relations offensive at the start of the American campaign season, the Israelis think they have this President over a barrel. A new war in the Middle East would split the Democrats in the midst of an election, and give the Republicans an opening on the foreign policy front. Yet perhaps there is one factor they haven't taken into account: they are depending on their American fifth column to make war with Iran not only palatable but popular. This, it seems to me, is highly problematic.
War with Iran -- or anybody else, for that matter -- is highly unpopular, at least outside the sacred precincts of Capitol Hill. The American people are in no mood for another war, least of all one in that familiar theater of horrors known as the Middle East. It would take another Pearl Harbor, or another 9/11, to provoke them into supporting a fresh rampage in the region -- or perhaps another Gulf of Tonkin incident will do.
The War Party has already tried to pull that one off, you'll recall -- remember Mansour Arbabsiar, the alcoholic used car salesman they told us was part of an elaborate Iranian plot to bomb a popular Washington DC eatery and assassinate the Saudi ambassador? There's another "terrorist" whose alleged "capture" provoked headlines, and then sank into near total obscurity. It turns out Arbabsiar is certifiably nuts -- as anyone who did a minimal amount of research into his background could've told you. His much-anticipated trial seems to have been postponed until January, while court psychiatrists try to determine if his ravings are evidence of his own personal madness or proof of a plot to start World War III.
Washington and New York have already declared war on Iran: they just haven't told the rest of the country about it yet. All in good time, my friend, all in good time -- and not much time, if Netanyahu and Barak have anything to say about it, which apparently they do.
What about you and I, mere Americans, and other concerned people around the world -- what do we have to say about it?
The legendary power of the Israel lobby is often overstated. There's no doubt they've been successful, but that success is limited. Their Achilles heel is their efforts are aimed at the country's elites -- the political class and its journalistic and corporate cousins. Ask any ordinary American if we ought to fight Netanyahu's war, and the response is bound to be overwhelmingly in the negative.
If it really comes down to the Israelis openly pushing us into a war the American people oppose, then this really underscores the cynicism and opportunism of Netanyahu and his government -- who will no doubt characterize widespread opposition to the war as evidence of "anti-Semitism" on the rise. All the more reason for the world's Jews to make aliyah.
In this tragic-comic opera, "Netanyahu's War," the characters live out their destinies according to a script written by some third-rate Hollywood producer of low-budget thrillers, albeit one with a passing acquaintance with history. In these productions, the clock is always ticking down to zero-hour while swarthy-skinned Terrorists plot to blow up the world -- or, in this case, re-enact the Holocaust. All that stands between Ahmadinejad the Madman and the nuking of Israel is the Churchillian Netanyahu, who, like the original, is counting on his American allies to enter the war and save the day.
That's the narrative we're about to be sold -- but will the American people buy it? Is it really 1939 all over again -- or is the much-touted "existential threat" we hear so much about being wielded not by Iran but by Israel -- which actually does possess nuclear weapons, and, in my view, is perfectly capable of using them.
The Israel lobby and its allies in both parties are confident they won't have to answer to the American people: they think they just have to win over the elites, the people who "matter," and the rest of us ignorant, superficial, economically stressed-out Americans will just go along with the program, too distracted and self-centered to utter a peep of protest.
This is a dangerous assumption to make, but then again I'm not in the business of advising the War Party how best to finagle us into yet another Middle Eastern crusade. I would just point out for the record that the backlash is bound to be a lot fiercer than anybody expected. To this I attribute the economic shock likely to accompany the war -- a condition that, rather than distract from the war issue, is likely to give it a lot more impetus.
The war that's looming on our horizon will blot out the sun and do a great deal of damage -- to our economy, to our standing in the world, to our democratic institutions. Vacation? In the aftermath of the Great Middle Eastern War, those with jobs will be too afraid to take time off -- for fear they'll be back on the unemployment line.
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