The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight


February 6, 2007

Scholar Larry Diamond resides at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, but he worked for the Bush administration in Iraq just a couple of years ago. He thinks that a war with Iran might be in the cards:

President Bush’s neoconservative advisors and pundit supporters have been beating the drums of war with Iran since 2003, when the president declared Iran to be part of an “axis of evil.” Recall that a senior administration official told The Times that Iran should “take a number” in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. In his recent address to the nation on the troop surge in Iraq, Bush issued more threats to Iran. Now the president has named a Navy admiral to head the U.S. Central Command and dispatched a second aircraft carrier and minesweepers to the Persian Gulf, presumably to prevent Iran from closing the Strait of Hormuz in the event of conflict.

These developments and other administration moves could presage an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Here at the Duck and on my own blog, I’ve been blogging about the drumbeat for war for awhile now.

Skeptics should keep Diamond’s warning in mind, since “recklessness, not prudence, has been the hallmark of this administration’s foreign policy.” Condi Rice’s former colleague wants Congress to hold hearings and prevent war against Iran NOW — unless there’s “an imminent attack or a verified terrorist attack on the United States by Iran.”

Carter administraiton National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski is also very worried, as he testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 1:

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

A mythical historical narrative to justify the case for such a protracted and potentially expanding war is already being articulated. Initially justified by false claims about WMD’s in Iraq, the war is now being redefined as the “decisive ideological struggle” of our time, reminiscent of the earlier collisions with Nazism and Stalinism. In that context, Islamist extremism and al Qaeda are presented as the equivalents of the threat posed by Nazi Germany and then Soviet Russia, and 9/11 as the equivalent of the Pearl Harbor attack which precipitated America’s involvement in World War II.

As Dr. Brzezinski noted, the threat comparison is absurd since Germany and the Soviet Union were powerful states with great resources, while few Muslims follow the “isolated fundamentalist Islamist aberration” that is al Qaeda.

On the bright side, there’s at least some evidence that the Bush administration might be backing off on some of its claims about Iran.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.