Friday, March 24, 2006

War in the Graveyard of Empires

Commentary by Martin Kelly
January 26, 2005

George W. Bush’s second inaugural address, in reality The Triumph of Bush Augustus, has had a mixed press from his most loyal supporters, the usually dutiful chorus of the ‘National Review Online’.

Some, like William F. Buckley, Jnr., came to bury him, others, like Jonah Goldberg, to praise him as an ‘American revolutionary’.

And of course neoconservatives aren’t Trotskyists.

In one respect, the address was a towering achievement – his speechwriters managed the feat of giving Bush many fine words containing little tangible insight.

However, in one sentence, they let him down completely - Bush Augustus, the de facto Emperor of Iraq, showed the magnificence of his new clothes by saying that the survival of liberty in his land depends on the success of liberty in other lands.

This statement, a gross insult to the memory of Patrick Henry, was grossly insulting to the intelligence, patriotism and history of the American people, for one simple reason.

He did not tell you why.

Why should the survival of American liberty be threatened by a lack of liberty elsewhere? If America is an exceptional society, as the neoconservatives say it is, what does American liberty have to fear if other nations are not like America?

Nothing at all. And all the while, the storm clouds of war continue to gather over the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It would be better for Iran and the Iranians if their government were not an Islamotheocracy, and perverse to think otherwise. Of course the Iranian people should have liberty and not have to suffer under the dead hand of Sharia law.

But since when was it the duty of Americans to give them liberty? Is there something different about the Iranian people that they are incapable of fighting for their own liberty?

What threat do the clerics really pose? The volume of spin on how dangerous they are makes you dizzy.

A reasonable man, exercising a reasonable degree of care in his reasoning, would reason that, if an influential clique has been proved wrong about an issue, say, the threat posed by a Middle Eastern country’s pursuit of Weapons of Mass Destruction, then they would be loathe to repeat the mistake again, perhaps for no reason other than that a second mistake would critically undermine their influence.

But we’re talking here about the neoconservatives, for whom reason always goes out the window in favour of paranoia.

Much opposition to the Iraq war was based on the practical premise that Saddam had no workable delivery systems for attacking the States. And all of a sudden there is a deal of unsubtle agitprop appearing to the effect that Iran will soon have a delivery capability.

The neoconservatives don’t intend dealing with the same problem in the same way twice.

Seymour Hersh’s recent ‘New Yorker’ piece on the subject of Bush Augustus’s plan to march against the Persians, called ‘Next Stop Iran?’ was reprinted in the January 23 ‘Sunday Times’. It gives some chilling insight into what these guys are really about.

Hersh is a conscientious reporter – he reported that “many western intelligence agencies believe (Iran) to be at least three to five years away from a capability to produce nuclear warheads because of serious technical problems, although its work on a missile delivery system is far more advanced”.

So it begins. The case for Iranian intervention begins with its advanced delivery systems – not unlike Saddam.

The spin was taken up by Edward Luttwak of Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies in the January 23, ‘Sunday Telegraph’. In an almost Orwellian diatribe, Luttwak commented, “The thought of ayatollahs with nuclear weapons should terrify everyone – especially in Europe, because the Iranians could soon put those bombs on the top of rockets that could reach European capitals’.

Just like Saddam’s could. And, like Saddam’s, I’m sure they’ll be capable of being deployed within 45 minutes.

The drums of more bloody, inhumane and unaffordable war get louder and louder. The sheer size of Iran makes a conventional attack nigh impossible, given the limited resources available. It would fail, unless the war was conducted with extreme, possibly nuclear, violence. More thousands of Americans and millions of Iranians would die to further the cause of ‘benevolent global hegemony’ the bromide the neos use to conceal their fascism.

The neoconservatives have not learned that Persia is the graveyard of empires. In time, the Persians will overthrow their current masters when they can suffer them no longer, in the spirit of Patrick Henry. Only then will they be free. No conqueror or despot, from Alexander to Crassus to its own Shah, has ultimately endured in that country. There is no reason to believe Bush Augustus would be any different.

The Triumph of Bush Augustus was littered with religious imagery. Last time I looked, ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ did not begin with, ‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of an air strike on Tehran’.