An “Existential” Conflict: Charging Iran with “Genocide” Before Nuking It
By GARY LEUPP
02/10/07 “Counterpunch” — – In a very interesting analysis last month, the former chief of staff of the Russian Army, Gen. Leonid Ivashov, predicted a U.S. nuclear strike on Iran by this April. “Within weeks from now,” he wrote, “we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc.” I’m afraid this has the ring of truth.
Then you have Gen. Oded Tira, chief artillery officer of the Israeli Defense Forces declaring last month that “an American strike on Iran is essential” for the very existence of the Jewish State. Suggesting that “President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran,” he urgently appealed to the resurgent Democratic Party to work towards that Israeli goal. “As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence,” he declared, “we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.”
Tira specifically urged the Israel Lobby in the U.S. to “turn to Hilary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they support immediate action by Bush against Iran.” The Lobby seems to be doing a great job at that, Tira’s criticisms about Democrats’ “foolishness” notwithstanding. All the Democratic presidential frontrunners have assured AIPAC or Israeli audiences that they’re at least as hawkish on Iran as the unpopular Bush. Meanwhile the Israeli allegation that Iran poses an “existential” threat to itself, made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before the U.S. Congress last year, has insinuated its way into American official discourse.
Referring to the vaguely defined “war on terror” in general, Cheney recently told Fox News, “This is an existential conflict. It is the kind of conflict that’s going to drive our policy and our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years.” His daughter Elizabeth (Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and the VP’s liaison with the spooky new “Office of Iranian Affairs”) wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month, “America faces an existential threat We will have to fight these terrorists to the death somewhere, sometime. We can’t negotiate with them or ‘solve’ their jihad.” The administration, still led by neocons clustered around Cheney, has embraced the Israeli rhetoric of paranoiac prophesy. It has decided to attack the Islamic Republic, to end its existence, for the self-defense of Israel and America. To gain support it must sow fear and must demonize Iran, ratcheting up the rhetoric week by week.
The “informational war machine” to which Ivashov alludes has been shoveling out disinformation faster than the public can digest, no doubt on the assumption that rumors even if later disproved can usefully damage reputations and set up targets for attack. The Straussian neoconservatives who tirelessly campaigned to foist their Noble Lies about Iraq on the American people up to the Iraq attack in March 2003 might not much care if the lies they tell now about Iran are exposed down the road. What they want is regime change soon and therefore, a compelling casus belli or two.
During the lead up to the Iraq War, the main charge against Baghdad (skeptically received at the UN) was that it possessed weapons of mass destruction threatening the whole world including New York City, which President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and other administration officials warned could result in a mushroom cloud over the Big Apple. Bush and Cheney intimated to certain audiences that Iraq posed a particular threat to Israel, but in general this issue was downplayed, probably because the administration wanted to avoid the accusation that it was going to war “for Israel” as opposed to America or the mythic but impressive-sounding “international community.”
This time it’s different. Although Israel attacked and destroyed Iraq’s French-built Osiraq nuclear rector in 1981 (in an illegal action then condemned by the Reagan administration and virtually all other governments, although Cheney and his neocons find inspiration in it today), and although the Israeli government enthusiastically greeted the invasion of Iraq, it didn’t overtly campaign for the war. But now it is feverishly beating the drums for a U.S. war on Iran. And as Cheney has pointedly noted, if the U.S. doesn’t attack Iran, “Israel might do it without being asked.” Most likely it will, if it happens, be a joint effort.
Notice how the case against Iran articulated in Israel forms the bulk of the Bush administration’s brief. It runs something like this. Iran is a radical Islamist theocratic state that supports terrorists, including Lebanon’s Shiite Hizbollah (which follows the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini), and various Palestinian organizations. It is large, powerful, and hostile to Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The Iranian regime is anti-Semitic; President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and calls for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Iran is concealing the existence of an illegal nuclear weapons program, a program that threatens the existence of the Jewish state. Therefore it is guilty of “planning to commit genocide”—just like that universally acknowledged incarnation of evil, Nazi Germany.
Read the rest here.