We are all aware of the impact that the media has on “manufacturing the consent of the public” when it is time, yet again, for the United States to go to war.
But the world is very different at this moment. War is not just destructive and evil; it could spell the end of the human species, as we saw in a very real way throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Needless to say, a war with Iran would be nothing like the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan. It isn’t productive to speculate the costs, morally, financially, and so on, but it is not implausible to say that they would be devastating.
But none of this seems to matter to the hawks of the world, to those who prefer force over diplomacy, to those who believe that the United States should use its military might unilaterally to achieve its means, disregarding the innocent lives that are lost and the utter destruction that is caused in the process.
Joshua Muravchik, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is just one of these figures, a neoconservative who has been calling for the United States to bomb Iran since 2006 (the article was titled eloquently, “Bomb Iran”), and who was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War.
In a recent piece in the Washington Post, Muravchik once again calls for war on Iran, claiming that it is “probably our best option.”
Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes, although an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would entail less need for boots on the ground than the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State, which poses far smaller a threat than Iran does.
Wouldn’t an attack cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime? Perhaps, but military losses have also served to undermine regimes, including the Greek and Argentine juntas, the Russian czar and the Russian communists.
Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.
I cannot bring myself to post any more, so you will have to read it for yourself.
I have to warn you, Muravchik’s casual dismissal of the impact that a war would have, both on ourselves and on Iran, is appalling to say the least. “[W]e might absorb some strikes,” he writes, reminiscent of Obama’s comments on torture: “We tortured some folks.”
I am glad to say, though, that the article has sparked criticism from both sides of the political spectrum.
Daniel Larison, writing for The American Conservative, comments:
War is definitely not the ‘only’ option with Iran, and it is by far the most costly and pointless of the available options. Whenever anyone concludes that war is the “only option,” we can safely assume that this was his preference all along and his conclusion should be viewed with extreme skepticism…
Muravchik’s “alternative” is appalling and unnecessary, and should be derided as such.
Glenn Greenwald, with his usual caustic and entertaining Twitter-style, calls Muravchik a “neocon sociopath.” After reading his latest effort in beating the war drums, I can’t disagree.
The propaganda surrounding Iran is pretty astounding already, and I can’t even imagine how far it is going to go, particularly if the diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration collapse.
I mean, just imagine if the current picture of world affairs was flipped. Imagine if Iran had occupied and established military bases in Canada and Mexico. Imagine if Iran already had thousands of nuclear weapons, and had an ally nearby with hundreds of nuclear weapons stockpiled, as well.
Imagine if Iran had a long history of invading and destroying other countries with little to no pretext, overthrowing democratically elected leaders, and generally using force whenever it deems necessary, international law be damned.
Then imagine if Iran was attempting to tell the United States to shut down its nuclear program because it poses a serious threat to the world. Imagine if they included the U.S. in their own contrived “axis of evil.”
This would all be outrageous. And, of course, the picture of Iran presented by the mainstream media and our neoconservative friends is outrageous, as well.
Is Iran a lovely place to live for all? No. Is it a nation which has a glorious human rights record, a nation which is overflowing with democracy and freedom? No.
Is any of this a justification to bomb Iran? Of course not, just as it is not a justification for Iran, or any other country, to bomb the United States.
The idea that Iran would develop a nuclear weapon to use offensively seems to me absurd. Unless it can be proven that the Iranian government is absolutely suicidal (which doesn’t appear to be the case), the development of a nuclear weapon would be to deter the utilization of force by the United States and its offshore military base, Israel.
The reality is that the United States simply cannot handle independence, cannot handle a deterrent to its threats and use of violence.
Iran is the last stop in the region, the last oil-rich region which must be controlled, the last country which must be forced into the glorious role of “U.S. client regime,” as it was when the U.S. overthrew Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and installed the dictatorship of the Shah.
Muravchik’s is just the latest in efforts to undermine diplomatic settlements, and international law, furthering the Bush Doctrine of “preventive war,” or, in other words, wars of aggression, the supreme international crime.
Public opinion is against the use of force in Iran, according to every poll I have seen. But, of course, the United States continues its tacit threat of force by maintaining that “all options are on the table,’ and there is no reason to believe that the U.S. government will not continue its tradition of completely ignoring public opinion when it opposes its “high-minded” objectives.
A war on Iran would do nothing but decimate the Iranian population, squelching any hope a popular uprising, as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government will not be handed over to the people. Instead, it will be made a client state, whose job is to obey U.S. orders at all times.
But, if the United States does it, it must be good, it must be for the best, it must be in self-defense, and it must be in the name of democracy-promotion worldwide. Right?