12 February 2012

Follow the Money

Here’s why there’s so much talk about Iran:

If you want to know what’s wrong with our campaign finance laws – and our political system in a more general sense – look at the way Sheldon Adelson is buying the Republican nomination for his sock puppet, Newt Gingrich.
He and his allies have been campaigning for war with Iran for years, not only here but in the Middle East. Adelson is a major financial backer of Israel’s ultra-nationalist Likud party, which calls in its platform for a “Greater Israel,” and he has backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the hilt. The 16th richest man in the world, with his casino empire stretching from Macao to Las Vegas, he thought nothing of giving $60 million to Israel’s anniversary celebration. He is also a major backer of AIPAC, the most important pro-Israel lobbying organization – but downsized his contribution when the group signed on to the two-state solution advanced by both Republican and Democratic presidents – on the grounds that the plan means Israel is “committing suicide.” He supports the extremist – and increasingly violent – “settler” movement, and is the money-bags behind the “Clarion Fund,” which is responsible for flooding the US with anti-Arab propaganda.

I wasn’t even in high school when the US went to war with Iraq, on the grounds that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and posed an imminent threat the US.  I was in middle school at the time, and my parents were (and remain) staunch conservatives.  As such, I strongly supported the war in Iraq, right up until Saddam was killed, and it was revealed that there were no WMDs.

Even then, I still supported the war, just not as strongly as before.  By the time college rolled around, and I was forced to sign up for Selective Service, I no longer supported the war in Iraq.  It was costly, predicated on a lie, and was getting bogged down in lots of generally meaningless fighting.

My aversion to war with Iran stems from my limited experience with Iraq.  While there are quite possibly significant military risks posed by Iran—just as there were with Iraq—there is also a lot of big talk surrounding the debate.  The politicians seem quite confident in their analysis of the threat, just as they were with Iraq, with Vietnam, with Afghanistan, and with all wars prior.  But the simple fact of the matter is that no one is omniscient, and that any one’s predictions about the future are probabilistic.

Once you factor in how much support he’s receiving from a PAC dedicated to supporting Israel and encouraging war, you have to question just how much Gingrich’s certainty about Iran should be trusted.  Yes, Iran may be a threat, as Iraq once was supposedly was.  But when analysis of the threat consists primarily of hyperbolic doomsday scenarios and propagandistic warmongering, as it did with Iraq, you have to wonder if attacking Iran will reveal that there wasn’t ever a real threat, as was the case with Iraq.  And you have to wonder if invading Iran will turn into an expensive debacle, as it did with Iraq.

Ultimately, my aversion to war with Iran stems from a distinct feeling of déjà vu, as if I’ve seen this before.  I’m not interested in seeing history repeat itself, at least in this instance.  Plus, I’m not interested in being fooled again, either.  When we went to war with Iraq, it was because George Bush fooled us.  If we go to war with Iran, it will be because we fooled ourselves.


  1. Looking at previous US wars, you will find there was a hint of a false pretext or an actual fact thereof revealed decades after the war was over.

    At the height of the Vietnam war, my dad answered my question with "War is a money making racket." He related how the army was stepping up production of coffins while FDR was insisting "our boys" wouldn't be sent overseas.

    Historically, Persia has not attacked a nation in centuries while our (US) track record in only one century is less stellar.

    Geographically, the US and Canada have the most envious position when it comes to defense.

    Unfortunately, Americans and especially American Christians worship the military and are easily duped.

    War with Iran - before the end of the year, if not before the end of the summer.

  2. I should be following this more closely, but the politicking surrounding the war issue is a tiresome slog, so I'm turned off to reading about it. Sometimes, I think that is a feature, not a bug, of the press surrounding the war: turn us off to thinking or caring about it, so they can go about the business of war.

    Why are we considering war with Iran? Do they possess ICBMs capable or reaching American soil, or ships and planes that can carry a bomb to the US in order to wipe out a few cities, Hiroshima/Nagasaki style? Is this just a dominance display? Are some of the ZOG-focused commentariat correct, and we are only doing this at Israel's direction?

    Many Americans like to use the refrain "the attitude of government does not necessarily reflect that of its citizens." This is probably true of the average Persian as well (btw, I get irritated when people lump Iranian Persians in with Arabs; different ethnic groups and languages only united by a religion which was forced on the Persians in the first place). The Average Persian probably just wants to go about his business and is likely pro-West in terms of the opportunities for education and employment. The Iranian government is publicly hell-bent on destroying Israel, but it might be a non-issue to the millions of Persians who will likely be slaughtered in any war.

    I have some limited experience working with Arabs and Turks, as their teacher in an American charter school. The Jordanian Arab students were kind and intelligent, but held themselves as eminently superior to their fellow Muslim Turkish students. The attitude of the Arab students towards Persians was that of an upper-class looking down upon unfortunate others who only escape slavery because they adopted the same religion. I found this out when I suggested that one student put her polyglot skills to use by majoring in languages and politics in college. I casually suggested she try to pick up Farsi, as that was a language where the US was deficient in translators. Her reply was that she would not dirty her tongue with such speech, and that Arabic was the only true language she needed to know.

    So I wonder, who is really behind pushing the US to make war with Iran?

  3. @Carnivore- the US gov't has become remarkably Orwellian in the last several decades about foreign policy. Incidentally, I've written about the Christian Conservative mindset regarding war, if you're interested in reading about it.

    @Cranberry- I suspect that the reason for war with Iran is tied to oil. I can also see the federal government's desire to display imperial power as a motivation for invasion. But, when all is said and done, I don't actually know why the government is so hell-bent on making war with Iran. And, at this point, I'm inclined to agree with your assessment that the media's job is to obfuscate the truth.