Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fallows on War with Iran

(crossposted at The Blue Herald)

(Americans can rest easy that wise leaders are at the wheel of their foreign policy.)

Atlantic Monthly editor and writer James Fallows penned a series of articles on Iraq often described as “prescient.” Starting with “The Fifty-First State?” in November 2002, his five feature articles are collected in Blind Into Baghdad: America’s War in Iraq. It’s a quick and excellent read that puts the lie to the notion that the Bush administration wasn’t strenuously and accurately warned about the dangers of invading Iraq. Written before and during the war, Fallows’ research undercuts many other pieces of propaganda and revisionist history. Exactly how prescient was Fallows? The December 2004 piece in the book is titled “Will Iran be Next?”

Here it is, February 2007, and the Bush administration and the neocons are still angling for war with Iran, as they have for years if not decades. The saber-rattling from the most dangerously inept political movement in American history has been loud, for months now, perhaps because it’s a harder sell. Many a commenter has noted that the Bush administration mistakenly believes that what they think is best for Bush is also what’s best for America. And haven’t we been here before?

Back on September, I wrote:

Regardless of what one thinks about the rationale of going to war with Iraq, it would be almost impossible to argue that the Bush administration did not want to go to war with Iraq. It was obvious they did.

And thus it is with Iran. If we avoid war with Iran – and possibly Syria as well – it will not be because of the Bush administration. It will not be due to wisdom or sound judgment or common sense on their part. It will only be due to another behind-the-scenes revolt by the top military brass or some external factor the Bushies don’t choose to dismiss as is their usual wont.


It would be nice to think that “cooler heads will prevail.” And perhaps they will. But it seems highly unlikely those “cooler heads” will come from inside Bush’s inner circle. The Bushies will act out of macho insecurity, or a desire for more power, or because God spoke to them, or because they are assured they are right and good and true. But they will not act with the best interests of America or the world in mind.

If anything, the situation has gotten worse since September. The saber-rattling has grown into a din at this point, as cacophonous as the cognitive dissonances in the Bush-Cheney-neocon ideology. They fear history’s harsh judgment over Iraq and are clamoring for one more shot at glory. No sacrifice by others, of others, is too great for their ignoble goals. To them, recklessness is courage, hubris is vision, and the systematic denigration of rational decision-making is the height of wisdom. Their desire to bomb Iran is so obvious even the mainstream media is picking up on it.

It’s appropriate that Fallows published this on Groundhog Day, since it really does seem like we’re reliving the same events. From his 2/2/07 piece “Where Congress Can Draw the Line: No war with Iran,” Fallows writes (emphasis mine)

Deciding what to do next about Iraq is hard — on the merits, and in the politics. It’s hard on the merits because whatever comes next, from “surge” to “get out now” and everything in between, will involve suffering, misery, and dishonor. It’s just a question of by whom and for how long. On a balance-of-misery basis, my own view changed last year from “we can’t afford to leave” to “we can’t afford to stay.” And the whole issue is hard in its politics because even Democrats too young to remember Vietnam know that future Karl Roves will dog them for decades with accusations of “cut-and-run” and “betraying” troops unless they can get Republicans to stand with them on limiting funding and forcing the policy to change.

By comparison, Iran is easy: on the merits, in the politics. War with Iran would be a catastrophe that would make us look back fondly on the minor inconvenience of being bogged down in Iraq. While the Congress flounders about what, exactly, it can do about Iraq, it can do something useful, while it still matters, in making clear that it will authorize no money and provide no endorsement for military action against Iran.

Read the rest here. James Fallows’ site is here.

When wise men and women face a crisis, they often look inward. However, Bush and his movement want to create this crisis, and when Bush looks inward, he surely doesn’t see a narcissistic, petulant, obtuse man, but only a great, misunderstood man, touched by God simply because he is entitled to be so. When our president is as obstinately, proudly unreflective as Bush, the only salvation is external. He can never be trusted to make the right decision of his own free will. As Fallows says, Congress must act immediately to block the Bush administration, and it’s up to their constituents to pressure them to make sure it happens.

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