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Commentary :: War and Militarism
The Israel Lobby & War on Iran
22 Oct 2006
While the Israel-First crowd isn't the only group that has called for attacking Iran, they are the primary ones doing so today. The more pragmatic imperialist camp - though certainly wanting to see Iran internationally isolated & advocating for "regime change" - have pretty much dropped the rhetoric about direct military assault since it as become clear that we really don't have the means to make such an attack serve U.S. interests. Only the Israel-First crowd -spearheaded by Israelis (like Olmert & Netanyahu), but strongly backed by their allies here - are still blatantly threatening military action. This has become especially true since entering election season - a new war is NOT a good sell. http://www.whyattackiran.com/
U.S. vs. Israeli Interests

While the Israel-First crowd isn't the only group that has called for attacking Iran, they are the primary ones doing so today. The more pragmatic imperialist camp - though certainly wanting to see Iran internationally isolated & advocating for "regime change" - have pretty much dropped the rhetoric about direct military assault since it as become rather clear that we really don't have the means to make such an attack serve U.S. interests. Only the Israel-First crowd -spearheaded by Israelis (like Olmert & Netanyahu), but strongly backed by their allies here - are still blatantly threatening military action. This has become especially true since entering election season - a new war is NOT a good sell.

Regarding the notion that fragmenting the Arabic/Islamic world is desirable, while this is certainly in Israel's interest, it really isn't in the interest of the U.S. We (as in the U.S.) have been much more successful in supporting strong authoritarian regimes ruled by tiny elites that can easily be bought or bent to U.S. interests. Baathist Iraq was a prime example - all along they wanted a strong centralized government that could effectively control its people and at the same time could be easily pushed into serving U.S. interests (like modern Saudi Arabia, Egypt, &c.). Fragmentation - as is the case in Iraq today - has been an utter disaster for the U.S. and certainly doesn't contribute to easier control of oil resources (any jackass with a grenade can shut down production/export for months, a situation that an authoritarian regime would be better suited to prevent).

Virginia Tilley's "The One-State Solution" goes into some detail discussing precisely this point. U.S. interests favor strong, non-democratic authoritarian regimes able to effectively suppress their populations (the "Arab Street"). Only Israeli interests - specifically that of regional hegemony - are served by fragmentation (Iraq today, Lebanon, even Jordan to an extent). So it seems unlikely that the U.S. - and the America-First crowd - would be interested in seeing Iran broken up, just the Iranian regime replaced by one more amendable to U.S. interests.

Only the Israel-First crowd here, being stimulated by almost all the mainstream Israeli leadership (Labour/Kadima/Likud, i.e. Peres/Olmert/Netanyahu), are still calling for direct U.S. military action. Quite simply, without using nukes, Israel probably isn't able to hit Iran hard enough to accomplish anything and Iran has the ability to strike back. Five or six Shahab-3 missiles with chemical weapon warheads in Tel Aviv and the demographic battle would be lost and the Zionist project doomed, a risk Israel can't really take. So they have a vested interest in "encouraging" us to take military action for them. Due to Iraq & Afghanistan - as well as North Korea and other issues - there is no conceivable way that any U.S. military attack on Iran could be seen as serving U.S. interests (esp. since such an action WILL rally Iranians around the current gov't making "regime change" even less likely). So, if we do end up attacking Iran - unlike the Iraq situation - it will be done solely on behalf of Israel.

Domestic Political Situation

Attacking before the November election was never really an option just because due to Iraq & Afghanistan - and our increasingly obvious failures in both - a new war would not be a popular sell. Unlike the pre-Iraq situation where many different schools of thought converged in favor of war, today the Israel-First crowd is the ONLY one still overtly calling for military action against Iran. The other factions support imposing international isolation (a measure doomed to fail since the world needs Iranian oil & Iran has already said it won't play ball with "selective" sanctions, i.e. if any country imposes any sanctions on Iran, Iran will impose total sanctions on that state, i.e. no oil) and "regime change" (despite the fact that Iranian resistance groups have flatly - and publicly - rejected U.S. aid or support because they don't want to be associated with us either) but not actual military action.

On the domestic political front, the scary thing is, regardless of the outcome of the elections, Bush will be a total "lame duck" with absolutely no accountability whatsoever for the rest of his term. Further he has made it fairly clear that he considers Iran something he needs to "take care of" before leaving office. It seems unlikely that the results on the November elections will have any meaningful effect on the administration's ability to launch a new war on Iran. If the Republicans maintain control they'll just continue to serve their role as a rubber stamp for Bush. If the Democrats win, frankly they may very well be even more supportive of a war on Iran. Due to Bush's extreme pro-Israel positions, the Democrats have a vested interest in proving that they are in fact more pro-Israel than the Republicans and nothing would do this better than making the attack on Iran happen. The Dems are as influenced by the Israel Lobby as the Republicans (just look at the newest AIPAC scandal being investigated by the FBI: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3317648,00.html ). In fact, by encouraging war on Iran, some Dem strategists may even see an opportunity to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing all resources on Iran.

Unlike the current pro-war rhetoric against Iran, the Israel-First crowd was NOT the prime movers in the Iraq invasion. While the Israel-First crowd was certainly a contributing factor and supported the Iraqi invasion/occupation, here we had a real converging of interests and a lot of the die-hard Right, even those who do not consider Israel all that important, supported this idea. Many of these guys really did believe that they could impose a compliant puppet regime, steal Iraq's oil wealth, and create a "free market utopia" right in the middle of the Arab Middle East. Of course since they have completely failed in every respect, all the pre-war advocates are busy either pointing fingers at others as being more important and/or denying their own role in promoting this failure.

That is one of the big differences between pre-Iraq and post-Iraq; today most of those other interests - without conceding failure - are busy downplaying their own roles and going quiet about attacking Iran. Conversely, ONLY the Israel-First crowd (stimulated by Kadima/Likud leaders in Israel) is openly calling for outright military aggression against Iran. IF this ends up happening, it will be solely due to Israeli & and other Zionist pressure; whereas it would be unfair to say that about the pre-war pressures backing the attack on Iraq.

For more on the Israel Lobby and its push for a U.S. attack on Iran see:

Why Would the U.S. Attack Iran?
http://www.whyattackiran.com/
See also:
http://www.whyattackiran.com/

This work is in the public domain
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