George V. Reilly

Iran: Official Washington Waking Up

Thelma and Louise Imperialism

I’m slightly more hopeful this week about not Attacking Iran after reading this piece, subtitled Thelma and Louise Im­pe­ri­al­ism.

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.)

…-

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.

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But it took more than [the work of Sy Hersh, Ray McGovern, and others] for so much of official Washington to panic. It took the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s decision to send the USS John C. Stennis, a second aircraft carrier task force into the Persian Gulf (with hints that a third could follow); it took the an­nounce­ment of what Juan Cole has termed George Bush’s "fatwa," allowing the U.S. military to take out Iranian agents anywhere in Iraq ("An­nounc­ing open hunting season on all Iranian visitors to Iraq," Cole wrote, "is like playing Frisbee with ni­tro­glyc­erin. Bush has gone looking for trouble and is likely to find it…"); it took the detention by U.S. forces of various Iranian officials in Iraq and the invasion of an Iranian office in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan; …

but only slightly:

So feel free to imitate official Washington. Be scared, very scared. An attack on Iran, if it were to happen, promises a special mixture of two fun­da­men­talisms deeply engrained in our top political and military officials that may, in the end, combine into a single lethal brew – and that will, in the bargain, give American policy in the Middle East the full-blown look of a war on Islam. Though our President is a Christian fun­da­men­tal­ist, neither of these Washington fun­da­men­talisms are, in the normal sense, religious or par­tic­u­lar­ly Christian.
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