(Nelson A. Brown, Jr. is a Chicago-based attorney and journalist. The commentary below appeared in the January 31, 2007, edition of The Opinion Gazette under the headline "BOMB, BOMBA IRAN; BOMB, BOMBA IRAN." Some links were added for the benefit of readers unfamiliar with the various personalities mentioned in the article.)
By Nelson A. Brown, Jr. Editor of The Opinion Gazette.
The walls are closing in. President George W. Bush is facing increasing opposition to his Iraq surge. Some Democrats have found the nerve – or maybe the courage of cowardly politicians with a few hits of public opinion under their belts – to bravely support a non-binding resolution opposing Bush’s escalation. Even some Republicans – especially Senators John Warner (a Republican from Virginia.) and Chuck Hagel (a Republican from Nebraska.) –have opposed Bush’s escalation. As public opposition to escalation surges, what might a desperate president do? Why not bomb Iran? There are indications that President Bush is preparing the groundwork for some type of military assault on Iran. The critical question now facing the Congress and all of us is whether we can stop another rush to war.
A growing chorus of the usual national and international suspects has started the war chants. On the international front, the Israel Lobby in this country and the right wing in Israel are speaking the loudest for such a military assault. In the last two weeks, the seventh annual Herzliya Conference was held in Israel – bringing together an international rogues’ gallery of war hawks and wannabes. Over one thousand of Israel’s political and intellectual elite, and its American acolytes assembled to assess Israel’s international position after its widely perceived debacle in its Lebanon invasion. According to some reports, a leading topic of conversation was how close Iran was to “the bomb” and what can be done to stop it.
At one session, Senator John McCain (Republican of Arizona) via satellite asserted that “there is only one thing worse than a military solution, and that’s a nuclear armed Iran.” This bellicose rhetoric blended in harmoniously with the overall tenor of the conference. Other prominent American war hawks and presidential aspirants (hard to tell the difference) – including Richard Perle, Jim Woolsey (former CIA Director), Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards – did their best to whip up war hysteria.
A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government was reportedly considering a nuclear attack on Iranian nuclear facilities – a report quickly dismissed by many. [Anyone for a trial balloon?]. Other reports have described Israeli jets making practice runs towards Gibraltar – arguably in anticipation of the real McCoy.
President Bush is taking steps that could signal a coming attack on Iran. He has ordered another American aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf. He has ordered the American military to arrest or kill Iranian agents in Iraq. The government is now reporting that it has increased evidence of Iranian influence in Iraq – including the provision of military supplies and training. There are increasing reports of American military preparations for an attack.
Joining in, the same best-and-brightest gang centered around The Weekly Standard and the National Review that neoconned this country into the Iraq fiasco wants to redeem this bad bet by doubling down and taking on Iran. One of the first steps in gathering public support for their next folly is to demonize the enemy – and of course with Iran’s President Mahmoud Amadinejad, they seem to have a poster child for this effort.
And what can we expect from our courageous Democratic Congress? It is not clear. There are both soft and hard forces -- both foreign and domestic -- pushing for some level of military confrontation. But while opposition to President Bush's "surge" in Iraq grows and Congress tries to contain the damage arising from the Iraq War, the possibility of an attack on Iran represents an even greater danger to American security and world peace. The most critical question now facing Congress, the American public and the anti-war movement is how to head off what appears to be a rush to attack Iran. We failed to stop President Bush's rush to war in Iraq; we must not fail to stop what looks like another -- and even more foolish -- rush to war with Iran.