Iran is NOT off the table.
Back on November 7, 2007 I wrote Who Bombed Syria? Did Syria Get Bombed?
. I was trying to puzzle through the conflicting and shifting information regarding the Israeli (or U.S.?) bombing of an alleged nuclear (or chemical weapons) facility in Syria. Apparently, I was not the only one who thought this whole event stunk of subterfuge. Seymour Hersh has a report in the February 11, 2008 New Yorker titled "A Strike in the Dark
" in which he traces his way through his contacts and informants to figure out exactly what was going on with this mysterious attack. Interestingly, he comes to virtually the same conclusion that I did.
My conclusion: "What may be clear (and likely the strike did occur) is that either Israel or the U.S. engaged in a preemptive strike inside Syria, and that they overflew Turkish airspace in this unannounced raid. It also seems very possible that this was a test run of a combined U.S. - Israeli mission for facilities inside Iran. Or as likely, a very direct message to Iran that they could be next." (11/07/07)
Hersh's conclusion: " "He [a U.S. national security official] was telling the Chinese leadership that they'd better warn Iran that we can't hold back Israel, and that the Iranians should look at Syria and see what's coming next if diplomacy fails," the person familiar with the discussion said. "His message was that the Syrian attack was in part aimed at Iran."
The Bush administration's desire to strike Iran has been reported by many. Thus far, the Administration has not been able to generate either the public or political support to do so. The time is rapidly approaching when the reins of leadership will pass to another, and there may some despair that this last great dream of U.S. empire will be put on hold. Laura Rozen writes in Mother Jones
While their numbers were strong, the hawks this year appeared less confident about their influence on Washington's foreign policy, and resentful of an American bureaucracy perceived by many attendees as having hijacked Iran policy from the weakening grasp of the White House. "It's close to zero percent chance that the Bush administration will authorize military action against Iran before leaving office," Bolton told the conference. "No one should be under any illusions about the United States' part in the Iranian situation in the coming year." Podhoretz, for his part, agreed: "Unless Bush realizes or fulfills my fading hope of air strikes, it is undoubtedly up to Israel to prevent" Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Bolton, like Podhoretz, urged Israeli policymakers to prepare to take matters into their own hands, saying "Israel should be willing to see themselves as a possible last resort." Though his call for Israel to prepare to strike Iran on its ownas well as his outspoken exasperation with the administration he until recently servedwere met with chuckles from the Herzliya audience, the prospect of Israel ultimately choosing to act unilaterally came up again and again.
This seems a clear signal to everyone that the desire to strike Iran is still there, but temporarily thwarted. Therefore it is on to Plan B. Namely that Israel should launch a preemptive strike against Iran. Such a strike would almost certainly provoke some form of retaliation. It is difficult to imagine that retaliatory strike against Israel would not draw a U.S. military response. It makes little difference if such events unfold under Bush, or the next President of the United States - be he or she Republican or
Democrat. The United States has long and vested interests in Israel which have been nurtured and supported (even in the face of proposed UN sanctions against Israel) through administrations of both parties. It is highly unlikely that Israel has much concern that the United States would not come to its "defense" regardless of the legality or wisdom of Israel's "independent" actions. Israel remains the "wild card" for the Bush administration's (and neo-con and conservative) dream of bringing Iran once more under U.S. control. All the calling on the ghost of Reagan by the Republicans is not pure posturing. Reagan too was very interested in Iran (remember Iran-Contra
?). It is also reported that Bush has benefited from Reagan's lessons from the affair
. This is not to mention the strategy used by Reagan to steal the Presidency on the back of the American hostage situation in Iran (see The 1980 Election: Stealing an Election the CIA Way
). However, even before Reagan the U.S. had a special interest in Iran. That "interest" was two-fold. The public reason was to control Iran to stop Soviet expansion (the war against communism or the so-called "Cold War"). The underlying issue was controlling Iran's oil reserves
. Does this sound hauntingly familiar? At the heart of the neoconservative vision is not simply creating a global empire under the flag of the United States, but controlling global resources - particularly global oil reserves. It also fits nicely with a profit agenda for "energy" companies and the war "industries" - among numerous other corporate benefactors. It is unlikely that the Democratic elite are any less wedded to this set of "interests" than the Republicans are. The message to Iran sent purportedly by Israel was and is clear - "We will get you back under our influence one way or another." The other message is "The threat does not pass with a changing of the guard in Washington, D.C."
Rowan Wolf is an activist and sociologist living in Oregon. She is the founder and principle author of Uncommon Thought Journal, and Editor in Chief of Cyrano's Journal Today.