Because it has been so long since any military action has been conducted on the soil of the United States, the people here have been insulated from the reality of war. Even though we are bombarded daily with selected images depicting the destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan we don't actually have a firm grip on the reality of waking up in the morning, looking out the window, and seeing one or several of our neighbors' houses as just a pile of rubble. Nor do we know the reality of seeing our own home blown to splinters.
Every war that America has been in for more than 100 years has been fought elsewhere, in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, or other locations--somewhere somewhere else. Because of this, American people have developed the mindset that there is some rule that all battles are to be fought in someone else's back yard. That's a thought process that makes it easy to be complacent about actions taken by our leaders against other sovereign nations. The thinking goes something like this. "Well, there's nothing we can do about Bush declaring war against Iran." But, along with this thought, whether we realize it or not, we are also thinking, "Besides, it really doesn't affect me directly anyway." We recognize that we're probably going to have to pay more taxes; and that we'll probably realize fewer benefits from that money we're paying. But we subconsciously think that it's not worth the effort to try to prevent the action, because we're really not in any direct danger anyway.
That's an extremely self-centered--and foolish--mindset. In attacking Afghanistan, we were attacking a poor, violent country that has experienced so much internal strife for such a long time that they didn't have the time or resources to engage in hostilities outside their own borders. They had to accept the "rules of engagement" decreed by the aggressor and use all their resources to try to defend their own country. Likewise, Iraq had been so thoroughly dominated by their own problems, as well as having been subservient to the U.S. in many ways, that they were (and still are) limited to defending their homeland, lacking the ability to do more than engage in a defensive fight on their own soil. When the U.S. launched their "shock and awe" attack against Iraq, Saddam Hussein had very little time to prepare much more than a limited defense, because in reality it was basically unthinkable that the U.S. would actually attack a sovereign nation which had shown no hostilities against them.
And I use the term "intelligence" intentionally. We, the American people, tend to believe that we are the nadir of the world, superior in every way to all other countries. We are unable to realize that countries located in the Middle East and elsewhere have military and intelligence organizations that rival those of the U.S. in every way but size. (And based on the purported intelligence failures that were blamed for the attacks of September 11th, which have shown that various intelligence organizations around the world were aware were going to happen, perhaps it would be better to say "surpass those of the U.S. despite their size.")
Because the military leadership of Iran has had over three years to prepare against an eventual attack, it is reasonable to believe that they have not only prepared a vigorous defense, but probably have made plans for some equally vigorous offensive measures as well, ready to implement as the to retaliate for offensive actions on the part of the U.S. against their country.
Right now there is a lot of rhetoric going around regarding Iran's development of nuclear weapons; yet the captive media fails to acknowledge the fact that Iran is a minimum of three years, more likely six, away from developing the capability of building nuclear weapons. But the fact that they are not able to manufacture them does not automatically mean that they don't own any. During the dissolution of the former U.S.S.R. back in the nineties, quite a number of their nuclear weapons reportedly went unaccounted for, presumably showing up on the black market. Iran was then, as now, an affluent and highly politically aware country; it is logical to speculate that their intelligence services may have contracted for one or several of these devices. And, with over ten years to plan and coordinate the delivery, these devices could reasonably be securely emplaced in strategic spots in the United States. This would give Iran a huge advantage in any hostilities that might be initiated by the U.S. Once the first U.S. bomb explodes in Iran, a signal could go out--even remotely--to detonate one of these nuclear devices in, say, Nevada, or Colorado Springs, or any other secondary location; this could then be followed by a quick phone call from the Iranian leader with the message: Get out of my country--NOW!!--or I will detonate one every six hours, starting with the one we have in Manhattan.
Even though any civilized country would make it their focus to attack military targets in the United States, it is the nature of nuclear weapons that there is a wide swath of destruction, as well as long-term danger to an even wider area; there would certainly be civilian casualties. Of course, Iran could model their response to this by stating, as we the people of the United States have allowed our military leaders to so blithely state, "Some collateral damage is impossible to avoid." But that's where we would learn, as we have so indifferently allowed our leaders to teach the people of other countries, that the reality of the term "collateral damage" means taking the dead bodies of someone we love to the funeral home and arranging for their burial.
And because they are almost certainly aware of the Washington-mentality penchant for keeping information from the citizens, this demand is likely to be followed up by a mass e-mailing to the U.S. media, so the citizenry would become aware that these attacks are retaliatory in nature, and not a preemptive strike. At this point, with a direct threat to themselves or their loved ones, I would suspect that the American public would be very vocal in encouraging their government to abort the hostilities.
This scenario is purely speculation, but it is a distinct possibility. In any case, we, the American people, need to sit up and become less passive about the actions our government is taking in our name. We need to realize that any aggression employed by our government leaders is more than just an eye-catching display of "shock and awe," viewed from a faraway location on the televisions located in the safety of our comfortable homes, but are a declaration of aggression against a country, whose citizens could potentially have the ability and desire to take the hostilities "up a notch" by bringing them into our own country.
I have heard people whining, "We can't do anything, the Congress gave Bush the authorization to do what he wants." That is one of the worst excuses I have ever heard. If we gave our teenaged son a pellet gun, then found out that he was going around threatening our neighbors with it, we would immediately relieve him of the weapon. Congress gave Bush a blank check to take any action he wished to combat terrorism--why that happened, I'll never understand--but as far as I know, that authorization was not carved into stone and carried down from the mountain. We need to demand that Congress pass immediate legislation rescinding this authorization and relieving Bush of this freedom that he has so blatantly misused, and place the responsibility for initiating hostilities back into the hands of the (hopefully) more level-headed Congress, where the supreme law of this land, the United States Constitution, placed it in the first place.
But we can't just stop there. Emasculating Bush of the power to initiate another unjustified war in our name would greatly reduce our immediate danger, but we also need to show the world that we recognize that we have erred. The next step would be to insist that our judicial branch tally up the national and international laws that the executive branch of our government has broken, and then ensure that they are held accountable for these transgressions. Bush, Cheney, and many others have committed or authorized the same atrocities that incurred the death sentence for Hitler's henchmen after the defeat of the Third Reich. We must hold our own officials to the same standards we set back in the late 1940s, and if our own officials are convicted, ensure that the proper punishment is actually carried out. I, for one, will not be willing to accept a Nixon-style pardon after the conviction, as that would send the message to the world that we are above the standards we have set for others.
This wouldn't cure all the ills that the United States is suffering from, but at least it would reduce the immediate danger that we are in as a result of the saber-rattling of a few people that we have allowed to set the foreign policies of our country. In my opinion, each and every Congressperson who allowed the legislation that authorized Bush to take the actions he has, should be forced to resign--at the very least--because of their dereliction of their duties. It is also possible that they could be held accountable for the part they played in the action by giving such free rein to the executive branch; I'm not a legal scholar, but we have a number of such in our Judicial Branch, and we need to insist that they investigate this idea using valid international legal criteria.
But, our Congress isn't going to take any action on their own, especially if that action is likely to place their own persons into jeopardy. The only way we will be able to get any action taken is for a large enough body of people demanding that action be taken, along with a promise that we will take matters into our own hands within all the legal guidelines that are in place. We need to get off our duffs and let them know that we insist on immediate action, NOW, before Bush takes drastic action that is irreversible.