An October Surprise?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
-- -- President Bush says
Iranians are behind the more lethal IEDs, the roadside bombs
killing our troops in Iraq. Rumsfeld warns the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard may now be in Iraq. Cheney says Iran will
not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. McCain says, “the
military option is on the table.”
And Israel is getting impatient. Writes Yaakov Katz in the March
10 Jerusalem Post, “The United States has until now not done
enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a senior
Defense Ministry official has told the Jerusalem Post ...”
Katz quotes the senior man directly: “America needs to get its
act together. Until now the [Bush] administration has just been
talking tough but the time has come for the Americans to begin
to take some tough action.” Only one person is quoted by name in
Katz’s piece, the hawkish Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. This
tells me Mofaz is using Katz to send Bush a message: “Stop
dithering and get off your duff on Iran.”
The official wants Bush to impose severe sanctions to shut down
Iran’s economy to convince Iranians to get rid of their regime.
But if sanctions do not work, bombs away. “This option may be
needed but it should only be used as a last resort,” said the
But while Bush is pushing for Security Council sanctions, Russia
and China are balking. France, Britain, and Germany may go along
with diplomatic and mild economic sanctions, but there is no
stomach there for air strikes. Thus, if Iran’s nuclear program
is to be dismantled, the Americans will have to go it alone with
Stealth and B-2 bomber strikes.
Or Bush will have to answer to the Israeli Defense Ministry.
While there seems no sense of urgency in Washington, the Bush
Doctrine and Cheney ultimatum have painted us into a corner.
Either Iran’s nuclear program is shut down, or the Bush Doctrine
will have been defied by Tehran and Pyongyang, leaving Iraq as
the Bush legacy.
All this has led to speculation that this summer or fall, Bush,
his options having been exhausted, will order the air strikes.
What would be the benefits of such an October surprise?
Rather than appearing a retreat, Bush’s pullout from Iraq would
look like that of a defiant gunfighter backing through the
swinging doors of a Tombstone saloon with both guns blazing.
Bush’s rating could soar 20 points. Republicans would rally at
the return of the 9/11 president. Democrats would be loath to
attack a president who acted forcefully to remove what they
themselves say is an intolerable threat. The neocons and
Christian Right would hail Bush as the new Churchill. Bush would
hold onto both houses in November, costing Democrats their best
chance in a decade of recouping power.
What would Hillary do? Nothing but wait and see what the fallout
was from Bush’s newest pre-emptive war.
And the risks? Iran could push its Shia allies to attack British
and U.S. troops and send Revolutionary Guard “volunteers” in,
which could mean a U.S. debacle, unless we responded with more
American troops. Tehran could make us pay a price in blood in
Afghanistan. Tehran could also send its agents into the
emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to attack U.S. installations,
setting the Near East ablaze and oil prices soaring to $200 a
barrel, plunging the West into recession.
Thus a pre-emptive war on Iran, while a political triumph for
the president this fall, could, like the invasion of Iraq, prove
a long-term disaster.
To some of us, this would be another unnecessary war. For,
according to the New York Times, Iran’s nuclear program is
plagued by failures and Tehran could be five or ten years away
from mastering the technology even to produce fissile material
for one bomb.
According to the Washington Times, Iran’s clerical and political
elites want no war with America and are moving to curb the power
of President Ahmadinejad. As one Tehran editor told the
Washington Times, “if they [the Bushites] keep piling on the
pressure, Ahmadinejad will become a national hero. … Let the
Iranians deal with him. If you leave him alone he will become a
bankrupt politician within a year.”
Cal Coolidge counseled that when you see ten troubles coming up
the road, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing because nine
of them will fall into the ditch before they get to you.
Bush is the commander in chief, not King George. He has no power
to launch U.S. air strikes on Iran, an act of war, unless
Congress authorizes war. Before we wake up to an October
surprise, Congress should do its duty and Rumsfeld and Rice
should appear and make the case for a war some of us believe
Iran neither wants nor threatens.
Forget the Feingold Resolution. Undeclared presidential wars are
the real stuff of impeachment.
April 10, 2006 Issue
© 2006 The American Conservative
Click below to read or post comments on this article