The cat is out of the bag: vote Republican in 2012 and get war with Iran. It’s not a new song they’re singing: Sarah Palin claimed this spring that Iran wanted to destroy the United States, about as absurd a proposition as you can imagine. And Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) proposed attacking Iran in November 2010. But the stakes are higher now as we move toward the 2012 endgame. The most recent debate reveals that fear and loathing of Iran is real and relevant for Republicans, raising the fearful specter of war – and not only war but an unholy crusade – before 2013 is over
We have already attacked Iraq and nearly got our asses handed to us. We have attacked the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and toppled it, then nearly threw a bloodless victory away and got bogged down in a war that has gone on longer than the Vietnam War, and which still shows no signs of ending. The United States has spent one trillion dollars on these wars and has seen about 5,000 of its young men and women die in addition to nearly a million dead Iraqi and Afghan civilians – over 1.7 million casualties all told, and millions of refugees who have lost everything.
Is the world better off as a result? Is the United States better off? Americans have a right to be concerned. The rhetoric about Iran sounds a lot like the rhetoric that surrounded Iraq in 2001 – alleged weapons of mass destruction Saddam said he didn’t have (he didn’t) and which Iran says they don’t have. Do we want to trust the Republicans twice? And perhaps most worrisome of all, Israel comes into play and with it, fundamentalist Christian end-time scenarios that are as mythical as Homer’s Odyssey to many voters.
Should the United States go to war to satisfy the crazed apocalyptic millennialist yearnings of a minority of fundamentalist voters concerned about the return of a god who hasn’t returned in 2000 years of waiting? These yearnings were in part responsible for the carnage of the First Crusade which did untold damage and caused untold loss of life, including the murder of the entire Muslim population of Jerusalem. Now we are being told that to save Israel we must murder an entire country. It makes you wonder: is this the 21st century or the 11th? Forget the 2003 debacle in Iraq and the nearly decade-long war that followed for a moment: Should we pretend a thousand years of history and all its concomitant horrors has not taken place and double down on already failed policies inspired by religious extremism?
If you want to focus on Iraq over the lessons of medieval history, think about this: We became an international pariah – and justifiably so – after our attack on Iraq. Sure, we had excuses, just like Hitler had excuses to attack Poland, and they were just as dishonest and self-serving; if Poland was Hitler’s War, Iraq was most certainly Bush’s War. There was literally no difference between the two – both were illegal as hell by any reckoning.
Think about the one trillion dollars spent and the prospect of another trillion dollars to be spent on Iran when Republicans are crying about the stimulus, which, according to the Congressional Budget Office, (August 2010) will total $814 billion for the period between February 2009 and the year 2019. It is apparently okay to spend a trillion on wars but not under a trillion on the economy, and then throw another trillion at still more wars. How will it be paid for? It won’t reduce the debt but will add to it at a time when it can be afforded least.
Look at what we are spending on air conditioning alone in Afghanistan and Iraq and ponder Republican opposition to a few million being spent on various programs to help children and needy Americans: $20.2 billion annually. Space program anyone? That’s more than NASA’s budget, as NPR reported in June. Remember, the entire budget of Head Start was only $7.2 billion in 2010 and they went ballistic over a paltry $126 million for the National Weather Service. The benefit to the American taxpayer is far from evident in this thinking, if thinking it can be called. Does anyone seriously think that air conditioning is going to be cheaper in Iran? How many children will have to go without food and clothes and medicine in this country so Republicans can pursue a policy of nihilistic irrationalism?
How many Iranians will have to die to satisfy Republicans that Jesus is coming, or that he has a safe landing pad in Jerusalem? Will they have to keep dying each year Jesus fails to appear? It has already been two millennia. You do the math. If this is about forcing God’s hand then the lesson of the Jewish zealots in Jerusalem in 73 C.E. is relevant – they were still awaiting salvation while the Romans burned the city down around their ears. God, significantly, didn’t show up. Bachmann says they’re going to nuke Israel. Is nuking Iran a superior policy? Isn’t nuking, nuking, whoever it’s directed at? The radiation sure won’t care who it falls on, no more than will conventional munitions.
The United States has finally regained some of the respect in foreign capitals we lost as a result of the Bush Doctrine, but our men and women are still in Iraq and Afghanistan and our economy is in shambles. What better time to attack somebody else for no real reason and get some more of our young men and women killed along with untold numbers of innocent Iranian men, women, and children. There is always room for atrocity in the war-worshiping GOP – not only the “collateral” damage that results from any bombing campaign but atrocities committed by troops on the ground, and by personnel in detention centers as Republicans waterboard their way to heaven.
Just where we are going to get the army, navy, and air force to put in the field is not explained, any more than we are told where the funding will come from if, as Republicans claim, we are broke. Logistics in Afghanistan were a nightmare, and that is a relatively small-scale war. To invade Iran, a huge country compared even to Iraq, full of mountains and deserts would be far more difficult.
According to GlobalFirepower’s admittedly subjective rankings, the United States comes out at #1 and Iran at #12 in the world’s rankings. Yes, the United States has 1.5 million soldiers to Iran’s half-million, 10,000 tanks to Iran’s 2,000 and 18,000 planes to Iran’s 1,000, but however many planes and tanks and men we have, we still have to get them in position to attack Iran and we still have to supply them, and we won’t even on our best day get all the tanks, planes and men that we have into Iran. We have far too many obligations already across the globe to make a case for simple numbers. Yes, superior equipment and training can make up for difference in numbers. But we would have to do a much better job of planning and carrying out those plans than we did in Iraq. Not only that, we would have to have actual objectives – namely, what are we trying to accomplish? Other than simply attacking somebody on ideological grounds, Republicans don’t seem to have answers to these questions – they don’t even seem interested in them.
Famously, President Bush had no idea what to do with Iraq once we toppled Saddam Hussein and what should have been a clear-cut victory turned into a long insurgency causing far more casualties than the invasion itself. The same error in Iran would be catastrophic. Yet there is no evidence, to judge from the take-flight-from-reality crop of Republican candidates that would lead anyone to confidently assert the United States could avoid those errors in invading Iran. More likely, they would be repeated and on an order of magnitude, with disastrous consequences not only for the United States, but as Senator Mark Udall (D –Colorado) warned back in 2010, for the Iranian people, the Middle East, and indeed, the entire world.
Iran Image by Hrafnkell Haraldsson
Invasion of Iran Map from DailyMail.co.uk