You think it's not coming, an attack on Iran? It's coming all right. From the NYT:
The Bush administration is preparing to declare that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is a foreign terrorist organization, senior administration officials said Tuesday. If imposed, the declaration would signal a more confrontational turn in the administration’s approach to Iran and would be the first time that the United States has added the armed forces of any sovereign government to its list of terrorist organizations.
The Revolutionary Guard is thought to be the largest branch of Iran’s military. While the United States has long labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, a decision to single out the guard would amount to an aggressive new challenge from an American administration that has recently seemed conflicted over whether to take a harder line against Tehran over its nuclear program and what American officials have called its destabilizing role in Iraq.
The nuggets of fact in the story are chilling, as it shows we are coming closer and closer to the next level of hell – but there is rich comedy to be had in its portrayal of Condi Rice as a champion of peaceful diplomacy, doggedly holding off the bloodlust of Dick Cheney:
A move toward putting the Revolutionary Guard on the foreign terrorist list would serve at least two purposes for Ms. Rice: to pacify, for a while, administration hawks who are pushing for possible military action, and to further press America’s allies to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in the Security Council.
Leaving aside the ludicrous assumption that Rice – who has never shown herself to be anything other than a mouthpiece ready to parrot whatever line the White House gives her – has somehow wrestled Cheney to the ground over the question of war with Iran, this analysis by Helene Cooper is remarkably jejune, to put it kindly. It is a perfect example of the kind of cartoon world in which our political discourse and higher journalism takes place.
We are to imagine that the "administration hawks" who have been clamoring for war with Iran – and whose acolytes have spelled out very clearly the hawks' adamant belief that a military strike is vital and inevitable, the only thing that can possibly bring Tehran to heel – will be suddenly be quelled by Rice's masterstroke of declaring the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group. "Gosh, we've been saying all along that sanctions and diplomacy can never work — but this idea of Condi's just might do the trick! Let's put away the war plans for now, guys, and see how this pans out."
The reality is that this move is just one more piece of groundwork for a military strike on Iran that is indeed inevitable – and vital too, at least for the ambitions of the "global domination" crowd embodied in the big slab of electronically-maintained meat known as Dick Cheney. As Cooper finally acknowledges – in the 22nd paragraph – such a designation is merely symbolic, as the Revolutionary Guards have very few if any assets in the United States or associated with United States financial institutions in any way that would fall under the measure's ban. It is intended as just one more shot across the bow, one more provocation aimed at goading the Iranians into a response that could be seized upon as a further "justification" for war.
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And it is yet another round in the endless PR campaign to demonize Iran in the eyes of the American people: A government that has an officially designated terrorist organization as part of its armed forces! My God, better order some more haz-mat suits for Sump City, Iowa, before they sarin-gas the county fair! Better go fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here!
It is also, as Cooper astutely if demurely notes, an attempt to increase the suffering of the Iranian people, "by using the designation to persuade foreign governments and financial institutions to cut ties with Iranian businesses and individuals." As Cooper points out, this follows the Mafia goon line that Bush took in his warmongering remarks last week:
"My message to the Iranian people is, 'You can do better than this current government,' Mr. Bush said. 'You don’t have to be isolated. You don't have to be in a position where you can’t realize your full economic potential.'"
In other words, it's your own damn fault that we are isolating you and strangling your economy. If you want us to ease up, then play ball and do what we want. This of course is the logic of the mobster: "Nice little business you got here, pal. If you want to keep feeding your family, you'd better do what we say: put our man Freddie here in charge of the joint, give us a nice cut, and everything will be jake. Otherwise, we're gonna have to come in and bust up the place."
We wrote yesterday about the interpenetration of the underworld and the upperworld – and in Bush's thuggish rhetoric, and the squeeze play of the terrorist designation for the Guards, we see a vivid example of it in action. The designation has nothing do with high-flown "debates" within the Bush Administration, or imaginary struggles between Rice and Cheney. (Does anyone believe that Rice actually opposes a war against Iran, if that is Bush and Cheney's will? Does anyone think that she will resign when they pull the trigger? No, she will stay, she will sell the war, just as Colin Powell did. She wouldn't be in her exalted position in the first place if she actually had any moral scruples about such matters.)
The only "debate" in the Bush Administration about Iran is the same "debate" that takes place over every issue: How can we pull off the next caper and get away with it?
UPDATE: Will Bunch has more on the caper, with another interesting angle: designating the Revolutionary Guards as an official "terrorist organization" could allow the Bush gang to claim that any military action against them is covered by the "Authorization to Use Military Force" in Iraq, with no need of even the fig leaf of new authorization from Congress. As Will puts it:
....an often overlooked sub-plot on the long road toward war with Tehran is this: How could Bush stage an attack on Iran without the authorization of a skeptical, Democratic Congress?
Today, the White House has solved that pesky problem in one fell swoop. By explicitly linking the Iranian elite guard into the post 9/11 "global war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's lawyers would certainly now argue that any military strike on Iran is now covered by the October 2002 authorization to use military force in Iraq, as part of their overly sweeping response to the 2001 attacks.
Winter Patriot is also on the case, with this look at the gang's new conjuring trick:
Can't find any terrorists to fight? Can't find any way to start a war against Iran? No problem. Just change a definition here, another one over there, and BINGO! Now you've got what you need: Iranian terrorists!
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