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January 9, 2008

A Surge in Logic


by Jay Barr

Before we declare the occupation of Iraq a success, nuke Iran, and/or barge into Pakistan, it might be wise to take a deep breath and think logically about some of the pressing issues of the day. Whether you come down on the side of non-interventionism and the reality-based community (RBC) or the side of the neocons and various followers (who apparently snort lines of the magic "cakewalk dust" left along the neocon path to glory), the facts remain the same.

The "surge" (remember the brief, failed skirmish against the use of that term?) is working, or so say its proponents. For this to be true, it would logically follow that an influx of 30,000 military personnel, AKA the surge, addressed the causes of violence directed at U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians. The RBC would posit that the violence against U.S. troops is the result of the occupation, and intra-Iraqi violence is part struggle for power and part sectarian hatred. The neocon view blames violence against both U.S. military targets and Iraqis on the Islamofascists' fanatical terrorist hatred of freedom, with a healthy dose of Iranian meddling to boot.

If the RBC is correct and attacks on American soldiers mainly arise out of the natural tendency of an indigenous population to resent foreign occupation, then an increase in the number of these same invaders would certainly not decrease attacks. But what if the neocons are right and attacks on U.S. soldiers occur because of fanatical Islamic terror? If so, the number of attacks should still increase because of the increased number of targets. A hypothetical religious zealot would not be deterred by even a huge buildup of forces, much less a relatively minor buildup. Similarly, an influx of boots on the ground does nothing to cool tit-for-tat sectarian tensions, and as heavily policed neighborhoods in America have shown, residents rendered powerless by the overwhelming force of an outside ruler often take out their frustrations on each other (and just imagine if every household in America had an AK-47). A power struggle, even if delayed, will eventually occur in Iraq, even if it is after the 100-year occupation that John McCain favors, so at best the troop increase has only delayed the violence. Therefore, if there has been a reduction in violence (a questionable assumption as it is), then it clearly has little to do with the extra billions of dollars and innumerable lives, limbs, and minds wasted by the "surge."

Turning to Iran, the recent NIE (that stands for "National Intelligence Estimate," Gov. H uckabee) addressing Iranian nuclear weapons, or the lack thereof, somewhat vindicated the RBC while leaving the neocons scrambling for a positive spin. However, even if Iran did possess nuclear weapons, the only nation that should be concerned about being nuked is Iran itself. With the myth of the suitcase nuke easily debunked by science (though not as easily as the myth of the liquid bomb responsible for all those discarded water bottles at the airport) and Iran's lack of long-range delivery systems, the United States has nothing to fear from a nuclear-armed Iran other than the general concern we should have about any nation, ours included, owning such dangerous weapons. As for Israel, Dr. Ron Paul and many others have pointed out the obvious, that their undeclared 300-plus nuke arsenal is more than enough of a deterrent for any would-be nuclear attacker.

But under what circumstance would Iran ever choose to execute a nuclear first strike on Israel, accepting the hypothetical that Iran could or would create or obtain such weapons? Iran's conflict with the "Zionist regime" stems from support for Palestinians displaced by the creation of Israel in 1948 and further displaced by the expansion of occupation in 1967 and even further displaced by the steady increase in "settlements" to this day. Iran also sides with Lebanon and Syria in struggles to recover land occupied by Israel, such as the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms. Unless one subscribes to the "Hidden Imam" school of thought on Iran, i.e., that the nation is full of fanatics eager to bring on a doomsday scenario for religious purposes, it makes no sense for Iran to contaminate with poisonous nuclear fallout the land it seeks to have returned to its allies. In addition, with water so scarce in that part of the world, a nuclear attack and its resulting pollution could ultimately kill more people outside tiny Israel than inside. If Iran's non-aggressive history is any indication, the only fear Israel need have of a Iranian attack is a defensive response to an unprovoked, "preemptive" Israeli assault.

And then there's bin Laden. If he is truly a diabolical, America-hating mastermind as he is often portrayed, then the best tactical move he could make is to launch a high-profile attack within the United States before Rudy Giuliani falls hopelessly behind in the GOP primaries. Then the currently dormant "9/11 brain virus" might be reinvigorated and convince enough of its victims that the man who couldn't even get all of his brave rescue workers working communications equipment might be the best man for the job of keeping us safe from "global terror." President Giuliani would then carry out his promise to "stay on offense" and continue the Bush/Cheney policies that have served the interests of bin Laden so well over the past seven years.

Lamentably, the surge in logic required to see the Iraq quagmire, anti-Iran rhetoric, and future terrorist attacks for what they are is not likely to come from the White House, the Capitol Building, or the corporate media establishment. An unhealthy mix of pseudo-patriotism, powerful lobbies, religious and ethnic intolerance, and elitism has muddied the thinking of our ostensibly intelligent leaders. For example, there have been many attempts to link the tragedy of 9/11 to the invasion of Iraq, but consider this one: on Sept. 11, 2001, .00001 percent of the population of the United States was killed. Using a July 2007 estimate of Iraq's population, .00001 percent of their population is 275 people. How much "Shock and Awe" did it take to reach that figure on March 19, 2003?

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Jay Barr is an attorney practicing in central Illinois. When he is not preparing bankruptcy or divorce petitions he is a daily visitor to Antiwar.com.

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