Thelma and Louise Imperialism

Over the Cliff with George and Dick?
By Tom Engelhardt

Let me make an argument about Bush administration Iran policy — about the possibility that a regime-change-style, shock-and-awe air assault might someday be launched on Iranian nuclear facilities and associated targets — based on no insider knowledge, just the logic of George-and-Dick’s Thelma-and-Louise-style imperialism.

Of course, we all know at least half the story by now. Is there anybody in official Washington — other than our President, Vice President, the Vice President’s secretive imperial staff, assorted backs-against-the-wall neocon supporters lodged in the federal bureaucracy, and associated right-wing think tanks — who isn’t sweating blood, popping pills, and wondering what in the world to do about our delusional leaders?

You only have to pick up the morning paper to find the most mainstream of official types in an over-the-top mode that, bare months ago, would have been confined to the distant peripheries of political argument. There’s Senator Joe Biden, the very definition of a mainstream man, grilling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about whether she believes the administration already has the authority to attack Iran and swearing, if she does, that it “will generate a constitutional confrontation in the Senate, I predict to you.” (You can add the exclamation point to that comment or to similar ones from the likes of Senators James Webb and Chuck Hagel among others.) Or how about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on presidential pronouncements in January?

“Much has been made about President Bush’s recent saber rattling toward Iran. This morning, I’d like to be clear: The President does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking Congressional authorization — the current use of force resolution for Iraq does not give him such authorization.”

Former officials are now crawling out of the Washington woodwork to denounce Bush/Cheney policy in Iraq and Iran with the fervor (however masked by official Washington language) of an exorcism. There, for instance, is former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in front of Congress, more or less predicting the end of the Roman… sorry, the American empire:

“The war in Iraq is a historic, strategic, and moral calamity. Undertaken under false assumptions, it is undermining America’s global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties as well as some abuses are tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability… If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large… A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated…”

There are three retired high military officials, Army Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (former assistant to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara), U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Hoar (former Centcom commander), and Navy Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan issuing a public letter insisting that attacking Iran “would have disastrous consequences for security in the region, coalition forces in Iraq and would further exacerbate regional and global tensions.” There’s Paul Pillar, former CIA analyst for the Middle East, in the Washington Post warning: “Avoiding the next military folly in the Middle East requires that the agenda for analysis and debate not be so severely and tendentiously truncated as before Iraq.”

Read it all here.

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