Sunday, April 09, 2006

The March to Coercive Diplomacy

We believe it is almost impossible that the United States would want to repeat the experience of Iraq. We hope the United States is not so stupid.
-- Gholamali Haddad-Adel, Speaker, Iranian parliament
Feb. 16, 2006
This, of course, is a statement made by an apparently rational human being. But Haddad-Adel's "hope" is appearing more and more quixotic with each passing day:
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.
The Pentagon has long embraced a sweaty compulsion to employ their most cherished of toys in a theatre of war, even where none currently exists. Hersh's New Yorker article, already being dismissed as the yowlings of an unconnected harpy bent on undermining the Bush administration, doesn't add much big news to the tale of "coercive diplomacy," except by offering some strong detail, as evidenced above, of just what is going on in Iran right now. But none of this should surprise. The developments of the Iranian saga, and the conception of tactical nuclear strikes, is very much of a piece with 2002 Nuclear Posture Review (oddly enough known as the NPR). Yes, the Bush administration was very busy in 2002, what with the development of NSA suveillance schemes, new interrogation protocols, the establishment of a secret prisons network and "small scale" nuclear holocausts, all having their details "worked out" during this exciting period in history. No doubt, 2002 will be fondly viewed as their salad days.

Anyone who had heard or read that the Pentagon, no doubt driven by the subtle hand of Dick Cheney, had tactical nuclear strikes on the "all options" table was generally appalled by the very idea. Though such rumblings are not new and details first appeared in the Pentagon's Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, many seem aghast at this latest story, perhaps simply because Hersh offers up such a bevy of unpalatable details of current activity. But as the Doctrine assures us,
US nuclear forces provide the means to apply overwhelming force to a broad range of targets in a time and manner chosen by the President.
This is something that is meant to "assure allies and friends of the US steadfastness of purpose." If there has been a controlling meme for George Bush's actions it has been "steadfastness." He loves steadfast. But it is left unsaid just who these allies and friends will be if Bush starts lobbing nukes into Tehran, but that will be something to be determined at a later date.

While this latest tale of US activity in Iran has been roundly cited by many, Bush supporters have remained notably silent on these latest revelations. No doubt the thinking must be that such plans are perfectly fine, noble even, and barely noteworthy. But while they will cite articles skeptical of recent Iranian claims of new high-tech weaponry, they all have succumbed to the White House trope that Iran is developing the most high-tech of all weapons, nuclear bombs. This, despite that fact that the most recent IAEA report found no evidence of any such developments. Such wayward logic relies exclusively upon an ill-founded trust that what the White House says is true, even though such has rarely, if ever, been the case.

The entire scenario playing out on the Middle East stage has a surreal quality. It has a quality of fanciful, Clancyesque fiction. This quality has proven, time and again, to be just why the Bush administration has conducted itself the way it has over the last five years. They have spun their fictions into reality, as they have admitted they do, and it appears now that they are insistant on sparking the next world war. Will anyone put a stop to the machinations of these maniacs?


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