Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How likely is a US attack on Iran before the presidential election?

Some Western observers have recently speculated that recent NIE notwithstanding, a US attack on Iran was still possible. The Deputy Head of Iran's Armed Forces General Headquarters, Gholam-Ali Rashid, has even reportedly stated that such an attack before the end of 2008 was "probable". So how likely is such an attack?

There can be no doubt that the publication of the NIE has resulted in a dramatic loss of momentum towards war and the, unlike what happened before the war with Iraq, the Neocons will not be able to "sell" the war to the American public, at least not without some helpful "Persian Gulf of Tonkin" pretext. Furthermore, the Administrations efforts at the Annapolis Conference and during Bush's trip to the Middle-East have totally failed to produce any type of regional support for the war, quite to the countrary: Bush was told in no uncertain terms that nobody in the Middle-East (besides Israel, of course) wanted a war with Iran. Even the laughable incident of the Iranian patrol boats "threatening" USN destroyers failed to elicit anything but amused giggles from the public, and denials for the Pentagon. In many ways the possibility of an aggression against Iran appears very remote. But it is really?

All these arguments assume that the US public opinion would be an important factor in the Administration's decision-making process on Iran, but that is not at all how Neocons think. Listen to this excellent interview of Jim Lobe by Scott Horton: Neocons never cared about the public - their entire modus operandi relies on the influence they can have on the US elites. Is there any reason at all to suspect that the Neocons have suffered a loss of influence on the latter?

Sure, some high-visibility figures have been removed, the Pentagon is now run by Gates rather than Rumsfeld, and the old 'Anglo' guard has scored some significant points against the 'Jewish' Neocons. But that is hardly enough to tip the balance.

Every single presidential candidate of some real weight is still firmly under Neocon control. I would argue that for all their empty words about ending the war in Iraq, Hillary and Obama are trying to "out McCain" McCain's rabid militarism and warmongering. As I have already predicted a while ago, no matter what happens in between now and the presidential election, a true American Fascist will occupy the White House next year. Anyone doubting this just needs to take a closer look at the list of advisors to the presidential candidates to realize that no "change" will happen anytime soon or, if it does, it will only be a change for the worse.

AIPAC, JINSA & Co. leaders and the rest of the Israel Lobby can sleep well at night - their control of the US Nomenklatura remains unchallenged and they need not worry about who will sit in the White House next year.

Like a bull trying to nab a red piece of cloth, rather than the matador holding it, the old Anglo guard has only battled against the puppets, the executioners but has been generally unable or unwilling to go after the behind-the-scenes puppeteers who have always been pulling the strings of the "visible" Neocons. This is a profoundly mistaken tactic, as it is not Perle, Wolfowitz or Feith who are pulling the strings of Hillary and Obama today, but the people who interests Perle, Wolfowitz and Feith have so faithfully been promoting during the past several decades.

The Turks have an expression to designate the real powers behind the Turkish government; they call it the "Deep Government". The Neocons are also run by their own "deep government" as is, in fact, the rest of the US political establishment. That "deep government" has very little at stake in the upcoming presidential election.

In contrast, there are people who might not sleep that well and who are probably in some anguish over what the future will bring them: all those inside the government who actually are guilty of the numerous crimes committed under this Administration: obstruction of justice, perjury, civil rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity, Geneva Convention violations, violations of international law, torture, treason, espionage, etc. The list is long and well known, no need to fully repeat it here. These are the people who have no political future anyway and who are therefore expandable. Even better - they can be the puppets which will take the fall for the puppet masters: jail enough "visible" Neocons and the US "deep government" will never be challenged for its criminal activities.

It is likely that most Neocons understand that while an Obama or a Hillary Administration will never allow anything contrary to the interests of Israel to happen, they will not extend the same cover to retired Neocons, not when they have become useless to their puppeteers and not when they are out of power. While the most crafty ones (Perle) will probably quietly slip away, others will probably held accountable for their misdeeds (Feith). It is therefore in their interest to try to remain in power, safely tucked away in a McCain administration.

Whereas McCain is obviously a senile and generally pathetic candidate ("bomb, bomb bomb, bomb, bomb Iran"), both Obama and Hillary have plenty of charm and even more brains (not to mention loads of corporate money). Both of them appeal to large segments of the US population and it is hard to imagine McCain winning only because he would be running against a Black man or a woman (or both). To win, McCain would need to do the only thing he knows how to do better than Obama or Hillary: rally Americans around the flag. What better opportunity to do this could there be than a war with Iran?

A war with Iran is a win-win situation for both the "visible" Neocons and the "deep government" ones. For the former, it is possibly the only way to remain in power (and, possibly, out of jail) while for the latter it is a last chance to use a group of people who will soon becomes useless anyway. If the war goes well, they will all be happy, and if it does not (which it won't), the "visible Neocons" will take the fall for the "deep government".

For all these reasons, it is very premature to dismiss the likelihood of an aggression against Iran, not before the Election, and not after. For all the recent tactical successes which the Anglos had against the Neocons, there is nothing to indicate that their power inside the US establishment has substantially weakened. If anything, the unwavering support of Speaker Pelosi for the Israel lobby shows that Congress will "know what to do" when required by the Lobby. As for the US corporate media it will, no doubt, do what it does best: make an outstanding job of packaging and delivering to its audience whatever propaganda the government (whether "deep" or not) wants it to feed the public.

The war is very much "on the table", and it will remain there as long as the US "deep government" remains in power.