Monday, December 10, 2007

Scott Ritter on Iran, Israel, and the Empire

Scott Ritter wrote a book about US foreign policy on Iran: Target Iran: The Truth about the White House's Plans for Regime Change (Nation Books, 2007). While one is tempted to be grateful to anyone who is forcefully opposed to Washington's Iran campaign, Ritter's reasons for opposition are, let's say, unsound. In his article in The Nation, Ritter argues:
I would strongly urge Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to hold real hearings on Iran. Not the mealy-mouthed Joe Biden-led hearings we witnessed on Iraq in July-August 2002, where he and his colleagues rubber-stamped the President's case for war, but genuine hearings that draw on all the lessons of Congressional failures when it came to Iraq. Summon all the President's men (and women), and grill them on every phrase and word uttered about the Iranian "threat," especially as it has been linked to nuclear weapons. Demand facts to back up the rhetoric.

Summon the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), or any other lobby promoting confrontation with Iran, to the forefront, so that the warnings they offer in whispers from a back room can be articulated before the American public. Hold these conjurers of doom accountable for their positions by demanding they back them up with hard fact. See if the US intelligence community concurs with the dire warnings put forward by these pro-war lobbyists, and if it doesn't, ask who, then, is driving US policy toward Iran? Those mandated by public law and subjected to the oversight of Congress? Or others, operating outside any framework representative of the will of the American people?

If a real case, based on facts as they pertain to the genuine national security interests of the United States, can be made for a confrontation with Iran that leads to military conflict, so be it. America should never shy away from defending that which legitimately needs defending. The sacrifice expected of our military forces, while tragic, will be defensible. But if the case for war with Iran is revealed to be as illusory as was the case for war with Iraq, then Congress must take action to stop this conflict from occurring. This is the Democrats' issue now, the one that will make or break them in 2008 and beyond. ("Stop the Iran War Before It Starts," The Nation, 24 January 2007)
The problem of this line of thinking is clear: (A) it lets US imperialism off the hook, holding the Israel lobby1 chiefly responsible for US Middle East policy, and (B) it helps reinforce illusions about the Democratic Party elite. (A) and (B), needless to say, are two sides of the same political coin. The problem of the article is only magnified in the book.

1 The Israel lobby has a role in US policy making, but what it does is not to make US policy imperialist, but to tar and feather left-wing dissenters, especially Jewish ones, as "anti-Semites" and thereby narrow the range of political discourse to further US imperialism which predates the rise of the lobby, operates everywhere in the world including in places where neither Israel nor oil is at stake, and will outlive the demise of the Jewish state if it comes.


jaimz said...

i m confused - Saddam went against the American dollar & had his country was attacked on phony reasons [he went to the EURO]& now Iran does the same thing - deleted the American dollar; will be attacked for doing so
but to do so the American military must avoid Israel involvement world wide until the Isrealites strike Iran & then the USA can use this excuse to attack Iran &join Israel - thus eliminating the world's view that they are attacking Iran for any other reason than Israeli -protecting the American dollar

bobw said...

Ritter is giving a "realist" critique of neo-con policy. It just happens that "realists" or "paleo-conservatives" were for a long time the only critics of US policy in the Middle East. Of course they're not going to mention US imperialism, but that doesn't shouldn't diminish their importance, when they are the only or main voices opposing the maniacs.
I would rather have Scott Ritter setting policy than Hillary Clinton.