August 18, 2006
|Selling The "Noble Cause"||Iran|
The most under-appreciated influence on the Bush presidency is almost certainly Michael Gerson, the evangelical Christian who served as Bush's chief speechwriter from the beginning of Bush's presidency until recently, when he resigned. Gerson...is a close confidant of the President.
He has a new essay in Newsweek purporting to describe how the 9/11 attacks "changed George W. Bush." [...]
What is most notable about Gerson's essay is that it certainly seems as though he believes a military confrontation with Iran is both necessary and imminent, and devotes the bulk of his essay to making the case:First, the nation may be tired, but history doesn't care. It is not fair that the challenge of Iran is rising with Iraq, bloody and unresolved. But, as President Kennedy used to say, "Life is not fair."
Behind all the chaos and death in Lebanon and northern Israel, Iran is the main cause of worry in the West Wing — the crisis with the highest stakes. Its government shows every sign of grand regional ambitions, pulling together an anti-American alliance composed of Syria, terrorist groups like Hizbullah and Hamas, and proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And despite other disagreements, all the factions in Iran — conservative, ultraconservative and "let's usher in the apocalypse" fanatics — seem united in a nuclear nationalism.
Some commentators say that America is too exhausted to confront this threat. But presidential decisions on national security are not primarily made by the divination of public sentiments; they are made by the determination of national interests. And the low blood-sugar level of pundits counts not at all. Here the choice is not easy, but it is simple: can America (and other nations) accept a nuclear Iran? ...
There are still many steps of diplomacy, engagement and sanctions between today and a decision about military conflict with Iran — and there may yet be a peaceful solution. But in this diplomatic dance, America should not mirror the infinite patience of Europe. There must be someone in the world capable of drawing a line — someone who says, "This much and no further." At some point, those who decide on aggression must pay a price, or aggression will be universal. If American "cowboy diplomacy" did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it. [Emphasis added]
As Greenwald points out, this passage is noteworthy for its complete disdain for democracy. The population may be tired, with "low blood-sugar", but that "counts not at all". The President is The Decider, and since 9/11 Bush is, in fact, more than a President. Greenwald:
The 9/11 attacks justify all of this because it made the President something more than a President; it made him a Great Cause. As Gerson puts it, after recounting his most melodramatic 9/11 memories: "Starting in those days, I felt not merely part of an administration, but part of a story; a noble story." Nothing as lowly or ephemeral as public opinion is going to impede this "noble story," driven by this great man with his mission of overarching moral imperatives. In many ways, that is the Bush presidency in a nutshell.
Greenwald (an attorney) says the White House clearly believes it has the power to go to war with Iran without the approval of Congress or anyone else. Greenwald:
I have written before that the administration's theory of executive power almost certainly means that they believe they have the right to initiate a war on Iran even without any declaration of war or any other form of Congressional approval. Indeed, they would be empowered to do so even in the face of Congressional opposition. Groups such as the Heritage Foundation have made clear that in the wake of 9/11, there can be no limits on the President's decision-making powers with regard to the use of military force. [Emphasis added]
As Greenwald points out, Gerson's essay is significant because of Gerson's status as a Bush insider and confidant. This is no rant from a Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, or Ann Coulter. I think we have to assume it's part of a PR campaign to soften us for an attack that's probably already in the works. We're being fed a steady diet of accusations against Iran — nukes, Iraq IEDs, Lebanon and Hezbollah — just as we were regarding Iraq (WMD, etc.). You'd think there'd be greater media skepticism this time around, but you'd be wrong.
Time to decide: are we still a democracy?