Feeding Moloch: Last Barriers to War on Iran Come Down

Anyone who thinks the Bush Administration does not intend to attack Iran either has rocks in the head or their head in the sand. The warmongers have raised their cacophonous howling of threat and accusation against Iran to entirely new levels. Every day now, some major Administration figure makes fiery charges that Iran is directly, deliberately killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq: a clear casus belli, if it were true, which it almost certainly is not.

(That is, it a clear cause for war in the perverted logic of Establishment discourse, which ignores the fact that U.S. forces have illegally invaded and occupied Iraq, and the fact the Bush Administration itself supports the same violent sectarian Shiite factions that Iran does in Iraq, factions responsible for killing thousands of innocent people. What's more, Bush and his beloved General Petraeus are now directly paying extremist Sunni factions, including members of Al Qaeda in Iraq, who are likewise engaged in murder, repression and "ethnic cleansing," like their Bush-supported Shiite counterparts. George W. Bush and his minions and handlers have deliberately, knowingly, purposely created a slaughterhouse in Iraq, and they keep it going 24/7 with the fresh meat of murdered innocents. This is the true context of the Administration's charges against Iran: mass murderers accusing others of malevolent intent.)

The latest and most explicit salvo of warmongering comes from CIA honcho Michael Hayden, who finally crossed the red line that Bush officials have been tip-toeing up to for months: the charge that Iran's top government leadership is directly involved in "facilitating the killing of Americans in Iraq." As late as last week, the nation's top military officer, Admiral Michael Mullen, said there was "no smoking gun proof" that Iran's leadership was involved in the alleged Iranian support for attacks on American forces. And Petraeus, in his many Tehran-baiting broadsides over the past few months, has likewise always stopped short of this war-triggering accusation.

But now Hayden -- obviously with White House support -- has stepped boldly over that line. In an appearance at Kansas State University, he made it crystal clear:

"It is my opinion, it is the policy of the Iranian government, approved to highest level of that government, to facilitate the killing of Americans in Iraq," Hayden said. "Just make sure there's clarity on that."

In the weeks to come, the Administration will be rolling out more product along these lines, as the AP report notes:

Military commanders in Baghdad are expected to roll out evidence of that support soon, including date stamps on newly found weapons caches showing that recently made Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq at a steadily increasing rate.

Saint Petraeus himself is also preparing a report on alleged Iranian involvement in Iraq. (Aside from Tehran's intimate ties with Bush's own allies in Iraq, of course.) No doubt the word from this sterling officer -- universally respected despite his nearly unbroken record of egregious failure -- will be treated as holy writ by the "bipartisan foreign policy establishment," including the two "progressive" Democratic presidential candidates, one of which has already called for the "obliteration" of Iran, while the other stresses constantly that "all options remain on the table" against Tehran.

Let us, like Michael Hayden, be crystal clear. We are talking about an Administration that, for PR purposes, took the nation to war against Iraq over a potential threat to American lives, from Saddam's alleged WMD and his alleged support for terrorist proxies. (Again, we speak of the publicly stated reasons for war, not the real reasons.) This was the benchmark they set: even a potential threat to American lives justified military action. Now the Bush Administration is claiming that Iran is actually killing Americans; it is not a potential threat, but, as Hayden says, the actual policy of the highest levels of the Iranian government to facilitate the killing of Americans.

According to the benchmarks established by the Administration itself, this is an overwhelming justification for war. Indeed, in the harsh moral universe of geopolitics, the accusation essentially compels war: what nation would accept the killing of its own people without striking back?

So this is where we are now. The very last rhetorical line has been crossed. The last top military official who might -- might -- have resisted military action against Iran has been removed, replaced (with the avid backing of Obama) by Bush's willing executioner Petraeus.

We have seen all this before in the run-up to the destruction of Iraq. You have the incessant allegations and demonization of the target, who is suddenly the main source of evil in the world: just this week, Condi Rice declared that Hamas (an indigenous Palestinian organization whose rise was surreptitiously aided by Israel) is nothing more than a proxy army of Iran, while Pentagon bigwig General Carter Ham charged, ludicrously, that the Shiite government of Iran is supplying weapons and support to the extremist Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan. Again, as with Saddam, we are being told that the Iranian government is behind all of the problems in the Middle East; thus "regime change" in Tehran will remove those problems, and bring peace, freedom and prosperity to the region.

There is also the same removal of any top brass who might stand in the way of military aggression, such as the undercutting and "early retirement" of Army Chief General Eric Shinseki, who had questioned the Iraq war plan's troop levels, and the outright firing of Army Secretary Thomas White, who had publicly sided with Shinseki. Now Admiral William Fallon -- who had dutifully commanded the various Terror War operations launched by Bush in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, but balked at, in his words, "crushing the ants" in Iran until finishing off the other ants first, was pushed into "early retirement" to make way for the ever-obliging Petraeus.

The media too are playing their wonted role, as before. Most of the Bush Regime's charges are simply stovepiped directly into news stories with little or no critical examination, beyond an occasional brief along the lines of, "Iran denies involvement in the attacks." The reality of the Shiite factions in Iraq and their relation to Iran -- including the fact that ever-demonized Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army is far more at odds with Iran than the Bush-supported factions -- is almost never mentioned in any story breathlessly retailing the Administration's latest blood libels against Iran. Professor Juan Cole provides the true context (see his original post for more links):

The poor slum kids and Marsh Arabs in Basra who follow Moqtada al-Sadr don't even like Iranians. The primary Iran-linked force in Basra is the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq [a pillar of the U.S.-backed government] with its Badr Corps militia, which most Basrans code as Iranian puppets. One of my Iraqi correspondents told me that when the Badr Corps was fighting Marsh Arabs, local Basrans characterized it as 'Iranians fighting Iraqis.' The Badr Corps, according to the Iraqi press, fought alongside al-Maliki's 14th Division against the Mahdi Army. The Badr Corps was trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and it is alleged that many Badr Corps fighters are still on the Iranian payroll.

Iranians come through Basra on their way up to Karbala and Najaf on pilgrimage to sacred Shiite shrines, and a handful may have gotten caught up in the fighting... But that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei of Iran deliberately sent Iranian troops or agents into Basra to undermine ISCI, Badr, and al-Maliki's Da'wa (Islamic Missionary) Party on behalf of the Sadr Movement just strikes me as daft. It flies in the face of everything else we know about the relationship of these groups with Iran.

And of course, the Iranian government has now come out squarely, in public, in favor of the al-Maliki regime in its attacks on Sadr's militia in Basra. This the reality: In Iraq, the Bush Administration and the Iranian government are on the same side, supporting the same Shiite factions. Just make sure there's clarity on that.

The Administration's literally hell-bent push for war with Iran has absolutely nothing to do with any of its stated reasons about Iranian interference or attacks on Americans in Iraq. (Juan Cole points us to this article by Tom O'Donnell for a look at some of the real reasons.)

But none of this matters. As with Iraq, the reality doesn't matter. The truth doesn't matter.  The horrifying, murderous consequences don't matter. What matters is the militarist, elitist agenda of global domination -- in a word, empire -- that has driven America's "bipartisan foreign policy establishment" for decades. Iraq was not an aberration; it was an embodiment of this agenda. And the attack on Iran will be the same. A whole new slaughterhouse is about to open for business: more meat for the grinder, more sacrifices to the Moloch of greed and ambition.