February 23rd, 2012
Given the attention it is receiving from those who are nominally opposed to the United States’ foreign policy of criminal, aggressive war and intervention, it is understandable that unwary readers will view Peter Beinart’s article, “The Crazy Rush to Attack Iran,” as strongly opposed to an attack on Iran. And while Beinart’s piece may very superficially appear to oppose such an attack, opposition of this kind is no opposition at all. And it is far worse than that: Beinart accepts the entire framework of those whose warmongering he criticizes, and he thus makes an attack on Iran more likely, not less.
For those of us who paid attention back during the runup to the Wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, this is hardly surprising coming from Beinart, who spent most of it cheerleading for them, as well as policing the bordaries of acceptable dissent. Which is what he’s doing here, as in his very first paragraph he frames in such a way as to concede most of the issue to the supporters of a war:
The debate over whether Israel should attack Iran rests on three basic questions. First, if Iran’s leaders got the bomb, would they use it or give it to people who might? Second, would a strike substantially retard Iran’s nuclear program? Third, if Israel attacks, what will Iran do in response?
This framing is of course completely embraced in the mainstream news media, where the question of whether or not Iran is actually even trying to create a nuclear bomb rarely is asked anymore. Any true opponent of war on Iran therefore needs to go back to this basic question: is Iran actually trying to create nuclear weapons and, as importantly, is this any business of ours as long as Israel, which does have several hundreds nuclear bombs and has had them for decades, isn’t dealt with in the same way? If instead you go by the assumption that Iran is building a bomb and that this is a Matter of Concern, you are already conceding much of the rationale for military action, at best you’re now arguing about tactics. Which is just what Beinart wants of course. Beinart isn’t interested in stopping a war or oposing it, he’s just concerned about seeming to oppose it.
In the meantime the whole issue of an Israeli attack on Iran is as much a giant distraction attempt as it is a real threat. For both Israel and the US having the focus on Iranian misbehaviour and the potential, sadly likely to be disproportionate Israel response, rather than on their own internal problems comes in very handy. It’s a distraction measure and while an attack on Iran can’t be entirely ruled out, it is unlikely to actually happen when the mere threat of it is so useful to both countries. Beinart’s weaselly article is just a small part of it.