Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"You say we're headed to war. I don't know why you say that."

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table."
--President George W. Bush (February 22, 2006)

"From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."
--Then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card on the Iraq war debate (September 2002)

The marketing campaign for the Iran war would seem to be fully underway now.

Time magazine has given the administration's next product a cover story spotlight.

As with Iraq, it will all start off subtle and hypothetical, before warnings of mushroom clouds and terrorism will attempt to convince Americans that attacking Iran is a matter of imminent national preservation. As almost half the country still believes the pre-war lies (Saddam had WMDs, ties to al Qaeda/9-11), so too will it become accepted conventional wisdom that Iran has a nuclear weapon and was plotting armageddon. The Bush cultists have proudly declared this war to be on its way. And if when the war implodes on us, President Bush will be getting ready to leave office, so he won't care anyway.

The Iran issue is to already shaping up to be a top one at the U.N. General Assembly this week, where President Bush and President Ahmadinejad will both speak, though obviously not together. Bush has thus far refused to meet with his Iranian counterpart, a poor move in my opinion. It plays right into Ahmadinejad's hands be able to (somewhat correctly) paint Bush as a weak coward who does not want to work for a diplomatic solution. It is a shame also that they won't meet, as they have more in common than either would care to admit. Besides the fact that both their foreign policies are guided by devotion to their evangelical beliefs, they also both need to boost exaggerated conflicts in order to counter domestic disapproval in their countries.

As this CNN.com article notes, "When President Bush addresses world leaders at the United Nations this week, he will have fewer options and lower expectations on almost every major foreign policy front than a year ago".

Still, as with Iraq, lack of international support won't deter the neocons one bit.

President Bush started off subtlely, speaking about international sanctions and warning of 'consequences' if Iran does not cooperate. Now that all seems fine and dandy by itself, but we saw in the buildup to Iraq that any diplomatic overtures are likely to be revealed as mere window dressing.

We are already seeing a replay of the run-up to war with Iraq via a series of faulty intelligence reports from the White House and its surrogates in Congress. Here's one report from the AP:
A recent House of Representatives committee report on Iran's nuclear capability is "outrageous and dishonest" in trying to make a case that Tehran's program is geared toward making weapons, a senior official of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has said.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday outside a 35-nation board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says the report is false in saying Iran is making weapons-grade uranium at an experimental enrichment site, when it has in fact produced material only in small quantities that is far below the level that can be used in nuclear arms...

The Washington Post has more on this.

More from McClatchy newspapers (via Talking Points Memo)-
Some officials at the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department said they're concerned that the offices of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney may be receiving a stream of questionable information that originates with Iranian exiles, including a discredited arms dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, who played a role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.

Officials at all three agencies said they suspect that the dubious information may include claims that Iran directed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, to kidnap two Israeli soldiers in July; that Iran's nuclear program is moving faster than generally believed; and that the Iranian people are eager to join foreign efforts to overthrow their theocratic rulers.

The officials said there is no reliable intelligence to support any of those assertions and some that contradicts all three...

...Adding to the unease, Rumsfeld's office earlier this year set up a new Iranian directorate, reported to be under the leadership of neoconservatives who played a role in planning the Iraq war...

To quote our fine President: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Finally- a reminder that Iran is not a nation planning for war. Concerns over a nuclear program are absolutely justified (though also hypocritical given our support for the proliferation in other countries), but the real facts suggest the level of fearmongering over this is not justified. Will any of that be pointed out as the media gets into war preparation mode? Have we learned our lessons? No and no. And, short of a serious pushback from Congress, the United States will continue to expand its quagmire in the Middle East.

The United States, on the other hand, is preparing for war inside Iran already.

Democrats should make one thing clear: War with Iran IS on the ballot this November in the form of every Republican candidate. If the current Congress is reelected, the White House (as after 2004, when Bush claimed a mandate for his whole agenda and declared his accountability moment over) will see that as a thumbs-up for the American people for his vision for the Middle East and his whole war philosophy. Just one more thing to keep in mind between now and November 7th.

Had enough?

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