The next aggression's pretext exposedAs most people know, some allies of the president are trying to prepare the American people for military action against Iran. This is why you hear commentators referring to Iran's president as "The Hitler of the Middle East," just like they did of Saddam. Iran's president is a loud-mouthed populist pandering to the crowd at home. He's quite clearly anti-Semitic. But Hitler? Give me a break.
Since he came to power, America's president has launched two wars (one unprovoked). How many wars has Iran's president launched?
The unprovoked war launced by America's president has led to the deaths of at least 150,000 civilians, according to Iraq's health minister. How many civilian deaths have been caused by decisions made by Iran's president?
These are not opinions. This is not ideology or polemics. This is not me saying Iran's president is a swell guy. These are questions with demonstrably factual answers.
But since some want to attack Iran, their president can't be the semi-democratically elected leader that he is. He can't simply be an ordinary, run of the mill populist with authoritarian tendencies. Heck, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is like that. George W. Bush in his first term was like that.
No, if we want to attack Iran, he has to be demonized. He has to be (insert menacing music) Hitler!
The only problem is that the president's allies are having trouble inventing a justification for such military action. Since their pretexts for the Iraq Aggression have been thoroughly discredited, they don't have much credibility left with the American people, who resent being fooled the first time.
So they're trying to scare people into believing that Iran is building nuclear weapons. I'm inclined to doubt this is true. Quite clearly, Iran's president is happy to let people think he's building nukes. But just because Iran's president wants people to believe he's developing nukes, doesn't mean he actually is. Leaving this impression, however false, gives Iran international prestige that it otherwise might not get. Also, standing up to the US administration, who the rest of the world sees as an aggressive bully, also gives Iran prestige.
This is EXACTLY the same tactic tried by Saddam Hussein. He was happy to let the rest of the world think he had an active weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program even though weapons inspectors doubted it. Why? Because it gave him international prestige. His downfall was that he underestimated the US president's mania for war, common sense be damned.
Iran's president doesn't have that problem. He knows the US is stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan and that US public opinion won't let Bush start another insane war based on a flimsy pretext. He knows that the American military is overextended in an Iraq conflict that never had anything to do with US national security or fighting international terrorism.
Maybe it's true. Maybe the Iranians really are developing nukes. The problem is that the administration's allies have no credibility anymore. They're the boys who cried wolf.
But now, even the CIA says it has no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, according to a New Yorker story. The White House refuses to deny the story, preferring to smear the reporter in question. This has been the Bush administration's modus operandi for years.
But it begs the question: if the CIA says they don't have reason to believe Iran is developing nukes, who DOES have the evidence to that effect?
The other question it begs is if it even matters to those who seem like they've already decided.