The October Surprise
By Gary Hart
10/03/06 "HuffingtonPost" --- -- It should come as
no surprise if the Bush Administration undertakes a preemptive
war against Iran sometime before the November election.
Were these more normal times, this would be a stunning
possibility, quickly dismissed by thoughtful people as
dangerous, unprovoked, and out of keeping with our national
character. But we do not live in normal times.
And we do not have a government much concerned with our national
character. If anything, our current Administration is out to
remake our national character into something it has never been.
The steps will be these: Air Force tankers will be deployed to
fuel B-2 bombers, Navy cruise missile ships will be positioned
at strategic points in the northern Indian Ocean and perhaps the
Persian Gulf, unmanned drones will collect target data, and
commando teams will refine those data. The latter two steps are
already being taken.
Then the president will speak on national television. He will
say this: Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons; if this
happens, the entire region will go nuclear; our diplomatic
efforts to prevent this have failed; Iran is offering a haven to
known al Qaeda leaders; the fate of our ally Israel is at stake;
Iran persists in supporting terrorism, including in Iraq; and
sanctions will have no affect (and besides they are for
sissies). He will not say: ...and besides, we need the oil.
Therefore, he will announce, our own national security and the
security of the region requires us to act. "Tonight, I have
ordered the elimination of all facilities in Iran that are
dedicated to the production of weapons of mass destruction....."
In the narrowest terms this includes perhaps two dozen targets.
But the authors of the war on Iraq have "regime change" in mind
in Iran. According to Colonel Sam Gardiner (author of "The End
of the 'Summer of Diplomacy': Assessing U.S. Military Options in
Iran," The Century Foundation, 2006) to have any hope of
success, such a policy would require attacking at least 400
targets, including the Revolutionary Guard. But even this
presumes the Iranian people will respond to a massive U.S.
attack on their country by overthrowing their government. Only
an Administration inspired by pre-Enlightenment fantasy could
believe a notion such as this.
Embracing this reverie requires believing in the Iranian Ahmed
Chalabi, or perhaps even Mr. Chalabi himself since he has been
working both sides of the street in both countries for some
It does not involve much imagination to understand the timing.
The U.S. is poised to adopt a Congressional regime change of its
own in November. A political strategy totally based on fear can
offer few other options to prevent this. Besides, occupation by
Democrats of even one house of Congress in January would make
this scheme more difficult (one would certainly hope).
Further, time for super-power military conquest may be running
short in the emerging age of fourth generation warfare. "...the
age of Western military ascendancy is coming to an end." ("No
Win," Andrew Bacevich, The Boston Globe, August 27, 2006).
The consequences? The sunny neoconservatives whose goal has been
to become the neo-imperial Middle Eastern power all along will
forcast few. But prudent leaders calculate all the risks, and
they are historic.
These include: violent reaction throughout the Islamic world; a
dramatic increase in jihadist attacks in European capitals and
the U.S.; radicalization of Islamic youth behind a new
generation of jihadist leaders; consolidation of support for
Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and a rapidly spreading malignant
network; escalating expansion of anti-American sentiment
throughout the world, including the democratic world; and the
formation of WWIII battle lines between the U.S. and the Arab
and Islamic worlds.
In more rational times, including at the height of the Cold War,
bizarre actions such as unilateral, unprovoked, preventive war
are dismissed by thoughtful, seasoned, experienced men and women
as mad. But those qualities do not characterize our current
For a divinely guided president who imagines himself to be a
latter day Winston Churchill (albeit lacking the ability to
formulate intelligent sentences), and who professedly does not
care about public opinion at home or abroad, anything is
possible, and dwindling days in power may be seen as making the
most apocalyptic actions necessary.
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