Saturday, April 8, 2006

Who Will Save Us?

Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker:

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

[…]

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

While the idea of Iran possessing a nuclear weapons capability is seriously scary, the prospect of invading and going to war to execute regime change is even more frightening, especially if the use of nuclear weapons is not off the table. The aftermath of even a conventional invasion — the disruption of oil production and the soaring energy costs and crisis to follow and the destabilization of more of the Middle East, as if it wasn’t already in chaos already — would last for decades. And once again we would show to the Arab world and anyone else who doesn’t align themselves with the West that the United States is willing to risk nuclear anihiliation of a portion of the planet to sanctify the legacy of a president who heretofore has demonstrated leadership and diplomacy towards that part of the world on a par with that of Ghengis Khan.

It may be that the goal of this administration is to “save” Iran from itself and its own leadership, but in doing so, who will save us from ours and the assured path of destruction that such an action undertaken by the president will lead us down? That’s not courage; it’s lunacy.