On the road to war with Iran?

Former Republican House and Senate staffer Mike Lofgren warns that fear of an Iranian “Islamic Bomb” may be pushing the U.S. towards war with Iran (“Iran: War Drums Beating,” truthout.org, 7 February 2012):

The idea of an Islamic bomb exerts a peculiar fascination on American political culture and shines a searchlight on how the gross dysfunctionality of American politics emerges synergistically from the individual dysfunctions of its component parts: the military-industrial complex; oil addiction; the power of foreign-based lobbies; the apocalyptic fixation on the holy land by millions of fundamentalist Americans; US elected officials’ neurotic need to show toughness, especially in an election year.

As Lofgren points out, there are already more than 100 so-called “Islamic bombs” — not that any bomb has a religion — those possessed by the Taliban-supporting, Osama Bin Laden-hiding Islamic Republic of Pakistan. But Iran is supposed to be different, and much more dangerous than Pakistan, or North Korea, or anybody else.

Lofgren says he was skeptical of past claims that war with Iran was imminent, but he is more worried now:

During this presidential campaign season, there is, on the GOP side, the most toxic warmongering political dynamic imaginable: one that makes Bush look like a pacifist in retrospect. President Obama for his part is trying to triangulate à la Bill Clinton among the GOP, a Democratic base that is mostly antiwar but politically ineffectual, Israel, the military-industrial complex and his polling numbers. Obama may feel he can slide through the next nine months with ever-tightening sanctions and a strategy of tension short of war, but the government of Israel is attempting to force the pace with increasingly hyperbolic predictions.

The situation, Lofgren says, resembles that during the July Crisis of 1914:

The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand was like the Iranian nuclear program — a red line that the Slavic (read: “Iranian”) menace had crossed. Something “had” to be done, and Berlin gave its client a blank check to issue an ultimatum so extreme as to force war, a “preventive” war, the scope of which snowballed because of an unbroken chain of miscalculations into the First World War.

The possibility that Iran may build nuclear weapons should cause people to worry.

But so should the continued possession of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons by the United States and Russia, the continued retention of nuclear weapons by the British and French, and the on-going nuclear build-ups in China, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and India.

War is not going to resolve the nuclear weapons threat posed by those countries that do possess nuclear weapons, and although it might delay an Iranian nuclear program, war is highly unlikely to resolve the Iranian problem either. Meanwhile, the consequences of war, although difficult to predict, could be disastrous.

It would be helpful if the countries currently hyperventilating about Iran would at least demonstrate a serious commitment to nuclear non-proliferation efforts elsewhere around the world. Judging from the recent U.S. decision to loosen its conditions on sales of nuclear technology, and the recent Australian and Canadian decisions to sell uranium to India, however, that commitment seems to lack a certain urgency when money is on the line.


U.S. Army photo

Tags: Australia, Barack Obama, Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Islamic Bomb, Israel, July Crisis of 1914, Mike Lofgren, North Korea, nuclear nonproliferation, Nuclear weapons, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, War