The attacks of September 11, 2001, on the US set the stage for the
vilification and eventual invasion of Iraq. In similar fashion, the Israeli
onslaught against Hezbollah and Lebanon provides the perfect backdrop for the
Bush administration to cast Iran as the regional bogeyman and ripe for confrontation.
The mainstream US media, as well as all key political factions, are beginning
to sound the same battle cry
The week-old Israeli-Hezbollah conflict is likely to boost the chances of US
military action against Iran, according to a number of regional experts who
see a broad consensus among the US political elite that the ongoing hostilities
are part of a broader offensive being waged by Tehran against Washington across
While Israel-centered neo-conservatives have been the most aggressive in arguing
that Hezbollah's July 12 cross-border attack could only have been carried out
with Iran's approval, if not encouragement, that view has been largely accepted
and echoed by the US mainstream media, as well as other key political factions,
including liberal internationalists identified with the Democratic Party.
"In my reading, this is the beginning of what was a very similar process
in the period, between [the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against New
York and the Pentagon] and the Iraq war," said Gregory Gause, who teaches
Middle East politics at the University of Vermont.
"While neo-cons took the lead in opinion formation then, eventually there
was something approaching consensus in the American political class that war
with Iraq was a necessary part of remaking the Middle East to prevent future
9/11s," he said.
"That strong majority opinion was bipartisan [and] crossed ideological
lines - neo-cons supported the war, but so did lots of prominent liberal intellectuals,"
he said. "I think it is very possible that a similar consensus could develop
over the next few years, if not the next few months, about the necessity to
Indeed, almost as if to prove the point, the US Senate voted unanimously on
Tuesday to approve a resolution that not only endorsed Israel's military actions
in Gaza and Lebanon without calling on it to exercise any restraint, but also
urged US President George W Bush to impose across-the-board diplomatic and economic
sanctions on Tehran and Damascus. The House of Representatives was expected
to pass a similar resolution on Thursday.
To Gause and other analysts, Tehran, even before the current crisis, offered
a tempting target of blame for Washington's many frustrations in the region.
In addition to its long-standing support for Hezbollah, whose political power
has, in Washington's view, stalled last year's so-called "Cedar Revolution",
Iran has backed both Hamas, including the Damascus-based military wing that
last month precipitated the current round of violence by abducting an Israeli
soldier outside Gaza, and Shi'ite militias that have helped push Iraq to the
brink of a sectarian civil war.
"The world needs to understand what is going on here," wrote the
influential liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman last week as Israel
launched its military counter-offensive against Hezbollah.
"The little flowers of democracy that were planted in Lebanon, Iraq and
the Palestinian territories are being crushed by the boots of Syrian-backed
Islamist militias who are desperate to keep real democracy from taking hold
in this region and Iranian-backed Islamist militias desperate to keep modernism
from taking hold."
But Iran can be blamed for other ills, as well. By allegedly promoting instability
throughout the region, as well as fears of an eventual military confrontation
with Washington, Iran can also be blamed for the rise of oil prices, from which
it is profiting handsomely, to record levels.
And its repeated rejection of US demands that it respond to the pending proposal
for a deal on its nuclear program adds to the thesis that Iran is engaged in
its own form of asymmetric warfare against Washington. Indeed, it has become
accepted wisdom in Washington that Iran encouraged Hezbollah's July 12 raid
as a way to divert attention from growing international concern over its nuclear
"There has been a lot of connecting of the dots back to Iran," said
retired Colonel August Richard Norton, who teaches international relations at
Boston University. "This goes well beyond the [neo-conservative] Weekly
Standard crowd; we've seen the major newspapers all accept the premise that
what happened July 12 was engineered in some way by Iran as a way of undermining
efforts to impede its nuclear program."
Graham Fuller, a former top Central Intelligence Agency and RAND Corporation
Middle East expert, noted that there has been a "buildup of domestic forces
that now see Iran as inexorably at the center of the entire regional spider
"The mainstream is unfortunately grasping for coherent explanations, [and]
the neo-con/hard right offers a fairly simple, self-serving vision on the cause
of the problems, and their solution," Fuller said.
In much the same way that Saddam Hussein was depicted, particularly by neo-conservatives,
as the strategic domino whose fall would unleash a process of democratization,
de-radicalization, moderation and modernization throughout the Middle East,
so now Iran is portrayed as the "Gordian Knot" whose cutting would
not only redress many of Washington's recent setbacks, but also renew prospects
for regional "transformation" in the way that it was originally intended.
The notion that, as the puppetmaster behind Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Shi'ite
militias in Iraq, an aggressive and emboldened Iran is the source of Washington's
many problems has the added virtue of relieving the policy establishment in
Washington of responsibility for the predicament in which the US finds itself
or of the necessity for "painful self-examination, or serious policy revision",
"Full speed ahead - no revision of fundamental premises is required. And
even though we revel in being the sole global superpower, God forbid that anything
the US has done in the region might have at least contributed to the present
disaster scene," he said.
As was the case with Iraq, the only dissenters among the policy elite are the
foreign-policy "realists", who argue that the Bush administration,
in particular, has made a series of disastrous policy errors in the Middle East
- especially by providing virtually unconditional support for Israel and invading
They also include regional specialists such as Norton, who maintain that the
depiction of Hezbollah, for example, as a mere proxy for Iran - let alone the
notion that Tehran was behind the July 12 attack - is a dangerous misreading
of a much more complex reality.
These forces have been arguing for some time that Washington should engage
Iran directly on the full range of issues - from Tehran's nuclear program to
regional security - that divide the countries. But the current crisis, and Israel's
and the neo-conservatives' success in blaming Iran for it, is likely to make
this argument a more difficult sell.
Read from Looking Glass News
Propaganda: Hizbullah wants soldiers moved to Iran
the United States will attack Iran in 2006
matter what Iran agrees to, Bush regime wants war
plan to divide Iran
to U.S.-Iran War Has Begun: Reports
colonel claims U.S. military operations are already "underway" in
SMOOTHIE : BARAK "OBOMBA" IRAN
Journalism and the Disinformation Campaign for War on Iran
IN NEO-CON CROSSHAIRS