I watch a lot of trash TV, too much for my own good. I watched the entire "Fear Factor: Couples," I'm ashamed to admit, simply because I enjoyed watching weird or embarrassing stunts performed by simple folks in pursuit of big bucks. Somewhere in all that weirdness, I'm convinced, is a moral lesson or a telling reflection of 21st Century American values. Plus I wonder where they get all those bugs.
Occasionally I watch "The Newshour," on PBS, which is worse than watching "Fear Factor" but better than watching the thinly-disguised propaganda news programs of Fox, CNN or MSNBC. Lately the Neocon spokesmen have been making a daily appearance on "The Newshour," pleading the administration case for preemptive air strikes on Iran--followed by God-only-knows what outcome. Indeed, US Marine Scott Ritter, who was right about Iraq, says another US attack on Iran is set for June.
The unspoken problem with this latest Neocon plot, I mean, plan, is that Iran, unlike the defanged Iraq, has the capacity to respond militarily, and who would blame them? Another factor to fear is that an attack on Iran would unite that nation to a single-minded purpose. Unlike the divisive Iraqis, the Iranians have few ethic divisions for undercover Mossad or CIA operatives to exploit. A third factor rarely mentioned is the geographic location of Iran. Look at any map of the Persian Gulf. Would you, as the captain of an oil tanker or US Navy aircraft carrier, want to dodge Sunburn anti-ship missiles in the Strait of Hormuz?
The narrowness of the strait--a chokepoint--presents some nightmare scenarios the armchair admirals and air marshals of the Neocon brigade conveniently ignore when pimping for a new war. Imagine a sinking an American aircraft carrier or two, and the predictable outcry from folks here at home to retaliate with even more missiles and bombs against Iran, and suddenly the world's on the brink of nuclear war. Indeed, the entire, Strangelovian scenario of trading missiles with Iran would make the present Iraq war seem like an afternoon concert with Jimmy Buffet.
How or why so many American citizens can sit silently and watch, without an outcry of dissent, while so many incompetent US officials with divided loyalties make absurd foreign policy, never ceases to amaze me. Very likely the placid citizens of Germany or Japan also watched silently, while the military regimes began to launch aggressive wars for territory and scarce resources during the 1930s. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz should heed the words of Admiral Yamamoto: "In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain, I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success."
In the first six hours or six days or even six weeks of a war with Iran, we too shall run wild with victory, but as in Iraq, if the war continues after that, we have no expectation of success. The folly of imperial overreach almost always means the economic or moral collapse of a society, and Japan, Germany and Italy were no exceptions. You don't need an advanced degree from a war college to comprehend the historical folly of imperial war. Yet our Neocons scarcely seem to have studied history or warfare.
Exactly how many US Navy ships do the Neocons consider expendable? Have any critics besides Mark Gaffney mentioned the anti-ship missiles that likely await ponderous, floating targets in the duckpond of the Persian Gulf? "In 1987, during the Iran-Iraq war," wrote Gaffney, "the USS Stark was nearly cut in half (photograph) by a pair of Exocets while on patrol in the Persian Gulf. On that occasion US Aegis radar picked up the incoming Iraqi fighter (a French-made Mirage), and tracked its approach to within 50 miles. The radar also saw the Iraqi plane turn about and return to its base. But radar never detected the pilot launch his weapons. The sea-skimming Exocets came smoking in under radar and were only sighted by human eyes moments before they ripped into the Stark, crippling the ship and killing 37 US sailors." (Read the entire account of the USS Stark with additional photos here)
Mark Gaffney paints a pretty grim picture that our Neocon warhawks chose to ignore. "The Sunburn can deliver a 200-kiloton nuclear payload, or a 750-pound conventional warhead, within a range of 100 miles, more than twice the range of the Exocet. The Sunburn combines a Mach 2.1 speed (two times the speed of sound) with a flight pattern that hugs the deck and includes 'violent end maneuvers' to elude enemy defenses. The missile was specifically designed to defeat the US Aegis radar defense system." Consider the damage to the USS Stark, in the adjacent photograph, and now multiply it many times over, with oil tankers afire and Navy ships and crewmen lost. If chaos in the Gulf is the true intention of the American oiligarchs and Zionists who ostensibly run our country now--and I believe it is--then certainly a missile war with Iran that escalates to unlimited warfare seems likely.
Where are the retired US Navy captains and admirals who should certainly recognize the folly of instigating a showdown with the Iranians, ostensibly to further Israeli hegemony in the Persian Gulf? Indeed, where are the American news commentators, US Senators and Congressmen who should be asking these most pertinent of questions: Who benefits? What are the long term costs to the US? What are the risks of this conflict spiraling out of control? How many American deaths are worth the risk? What happens if oil shipments from the entire Persian Gulf are cut? What exactly do we hope to accomplish? What are the worst-case scenarios of such a mad scheme?
Curiously, we seldom hear any of these questions discussed on "The Newshour," nor do we hear any criticism of the folly of the plan itself by the mainstream American news media. By contrast, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian woman, wrote, "Independent organizations are essential for fostering the culture of human rights in Iran. But the threat of foreign military intervention will provide a powerful excuse for authoritarian elements to uproot these groups and put an end to their growth . . . . American hypocrisy doesn't help, either. Given the longstanding willingness of the American government to overlook abuses of human rights, particularly women's rights, by close allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, it is hard not to see the Bush administration's focus on human rights violations in Iran as a cloak for its larger strategic interests."
And those strategic interests are: Oil, Israel and Empire, in no particular order, as one editor so succinctly put it. God help a nation hijacked by a minority of policymakers with an agenda that appears to run counter to the greater good. The Iran time bomb is ticking, ticking, and the danger is closer to home than anyone realizes.