Thursday, March 08, 2007

The stab in the back

The phrase usually refers to the Jack Rippers of the world objecting to having their aggression thwarted by weak-willed civilians and media types. As this fascinating history in Harper's demonstrates, it is pure mythical, right-wing bull caca.

But stab in the back is such a vivid phrase. I would like to reclaim it for a current betrayal--of the war-weary American public by the Democratic Party.

"You're not weary of war," the newly elected leadership tells Joe Voter. "You're just weary of the IRAQ war. You'll LOVE what we have in store for Iran. Sanctions. Saber rattling. ALL OPTIONS ON THE TABLE. We can waste lives and treasure with the best of 'em.

"And are Democrats willing to bring the world a few more steps closer to Armageddon for short-term domestic political gain? Just watch us!"

Wait, but surely there was intelligent discussion on the topic of "containing" Iran. Someone stepped up and told Lantos, "Look, Tom, this is a little over the top, no?"

Er. Nope.

David Swanson writes this chilling summary of the extent of Congressional lock-step.
The absurd notion that Iran constitutes a threat to the United States was asserted in the opening breath out of Chairman Tom Lantos's mouth and never questioned by a single speaker through the hearing. Not a single speaker questioned the need to get tough on Iran in one way or another. Not a single speaker questioned the idea that a nation years away from possessing nuclear weapons and open to negotiating about them is a threat to the world's hugest nuclear power. Not a single speaker questioned assertions made during the hearing to the effect that Iran is supplying Iraqis with explosives. Not a single speaker questioned US preparations for war on Iran. And not one voice raised any concern over what sanctions would do to the Iranian people.
And from here, Chris Floyd brings the appropriate sense of despair.
... the national Democrats -- who were returned to power on a wave of public revulsion against the radical militarism of the Bush Regime -- are now trying to raise the war fever against Iran to the boiling point, in a bellicose bid to "outflank both the Bush administration and the United Nations with the toughest set of sanctions against Iran that have ever been proposed," as that right-wing calliope, the New York Sun, approvingly notes.

... The Lantos version of the latest Iran Provocation Act is being pitched as a partisan swipe at George W. Bush. (In their PR packaging, at least, the Democrats are being responsive to overwhelming public sentiment.) Lantos emphasizes that the bill would prohibit the president from granting waivers to any oil companies or countries that sign new energy deals with Iran. "If Dutch Shell moves forward with its proposed $10 billion deal with Iran, it will be sanctioned. If Malaysia moves forward with a similar deal, it too will be sanctioned. The same treatment will be accorded to China and India should they finalize deals with Iran," said Lantos. [And isn't it wonderfully democratic of this Democratic leader, telling other countries who they can and cannot trade with, and how? Oh well; if these rag-tag nations want to be part of our Greater Co-Propserity Sphere, they have to toe the line, right?]

Of course, all these draconian efforts to cripple the development of Iran's oil and gas industries will only make it more imperative for Tehran to develop its nuclear power program -- and therefore increase the likelihood that this program could one day be turned to the production of nuclear weapons. In other words, the bill is designed to exacerbate and accelerate the very danger -- nuclear proliferation -- that is the ostensible reason for keeping "all options on the table" against Iran.

But that's OK. We want them to keep building their nuclear program, so we can use it as an excuse to strike Iran. We want the people of Iran to suffer from crippling sanctions, as did the people of Iraq (while, as in Iraq, the leaders continue to live in luxury), because we want Iraqi society to deteroriate to the point that its leaders feel compelled to take some action that we can seize upon as a casus belli and launch a "retaliatory" attack whose real aim is "regime change." Both the Democrats and Republicans have very publicly committed the United States to this course.

So the Lantos law has nothing to do with bashing George W. Bush for giving his oil buddies waivers to work in Iran. That's just cornball for the rubes back home. It has everything to do with the pursuit of "regime change" in Tehran and the implanation of a friendly client regime that won't stand in the way of the long-held, bipartisan Establishment dream of unchallenged American dominance over world affairs.

And it It has nothing to do with punishing Iran for allegedly helping kill American soldiers in Iraq. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans, with a few honorable exceptions, give a damn about the American soldiers in Iraq. If they did, the soldiers would already be coming home -- or never sent there in first place. If they did, they would also be passing sanctions against Saudi Arabia, from whence gushers of money, weapons and recruits are flowing into Iraq to support the Sunni insurgency that is actually killing most of the Americans in Iraq.

No, they don't care about the soldiers. They care about "regime change" and advancing the frontiers of dominance. In this, the American Dominationists have found common cause with the government of Israel, which also desperately wants regime change in Tehran. And here the other raison d'etre of the Lantos bill comes into play: kowtowing to the interests of the Israeli militarists, and thus securing the domestic support of the Israel Lobby in America. And the Democrats are not even trying to hide the influence of the Lobby on the bill. As the Sun notes: "The introduction of the new legislation comes as more than 5,500 members of America's largest pro-Israel lobby [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] are set to arrive in Washington for their annual policy conference." Making their haj to this Mecca..House speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to give her first major speech on Middle East policy as the House leader. Both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate will make speeches at the event, which is also expected to draw presidential candidates such as Senators Clinton, Obama, Biden, and Brownback. Senator McCain is said to be likely to attend as well." Every one of these speakers will throw red meat to the crowd. Every single one of them will declare that "all options are on the table" against Iran. Every single one of them will wave the black flag of war.

Of course, most American Jews oppose the war in Iraq; So do most American WASPs -- although not in as great a number as American Jews, as several recent Gallup polls show. (The American religious group most opposed to the Iraq war is Black Protestants, the surveys found.) Most Americans oppose launching a war on Iran. But neither the WASP Dominationists who control American policy nor the Jewish leaders of the Israeli Lobby give a damn about what Americans -- of all faiths and none -- want. These honchos serve only the interests of power. They may tell us -- they may even tell themselves -- that they are only pursuing, with unfortunate but unavoidable ruthlessness, the security of the American and Israeli people. But the record of the past decades gives overwhelming proof that these policies do not bring security; they bring only more death, more suffering, more fear -- and more money for war profiteers, and more authoritarian power for government officials to wield with increasingly weak or non-existent restraints.

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