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February 07, 2007

Preemptive Strike? 9/11, "War On Terror"  Iran  Iraq

You know things are bad when former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski starts to sound like the sanest guy in the room. Here's an excerpt from Brzezinski's testimony last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

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.

This simplistic and demagogic narrative overlooks the fact that Nazism was based on the military power of the industrially most advanced European state; and that Stalinism was able to mobilize not only the resources of the victorious and militarily powerful Soviet Union but also had worldwide appeal through its Marxist doctrine. In contrast, most Muslims are not embracing Islamic fundamentalism; al Qaeda is an isolated fundamentalist Islamist aberration; most Iraqis are engaged in strife because the American occupation of Iraq destroyed the Iraqi state; while Iran — though gaining in regional influence — is itself politically divided, economically and militarily weak. To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Deplorably, the Administration's foreign policy in the Middle East region has lately relied almost entirely on such sloganeering. Vague and inflammatory talk about "a new strategic context" which is based on "clarity" and which prompts "the birth pangs of a new Middle East" is breeding intensifying anti-Americanism and is increasing the danger of a long-term collision between the United States and the Islamic world. [...]

One should note here also that practically no country in the world shares the Manichean delusions that the Administration so passionately articulates. The result is growing political isolation of, and pervasive popular antagonism toward the U.S. global posture. [Emphasis added]

The section highlighted in red above clearly suggests that the White House may seek to use a terrorist incident as a pretext to push the country into war with Iran. Possibly even that the White House may fabricate such an incident. An amazing suggestion for a national-security insider like Brzezinski to make in open testimony. Draw your own conclusions, but it seems to me that Brzezinski knew exactly what he was doing. It was a prepared statement, and Brzezinski's too careful and experienced an operator not to understand how his words would be taken. Note also the quotation marks around "defensive."

In the Q&A, Brzezinski had more to say along these lines. Barry Grey (via RI):

Following his opening remarks, in response to questions from the senators, Brzezinski reiterated his warning of a provocation.

He called the senators' attention to a March 27, 2006 report in the New York Times on "a private meeting between the president and Prime Minister Blair, two months before the war, based on a memorandum prepared by the British official present at this meeting." In the article, Brzezinski said, "the president is cited as saying he is concerned that there may not be weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, and that there must be some consideration given to finding a different basis for undertaking the action."

He continued: "I'll just read you what this memo allegedly says, according to the New York Times: 'The memo states that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation.'

"He described the several ways in which this could be done. I won't go into that... the ways were quite sensational, at least one of them.

"If one is of the view that one is dealing with an implacable enemy that has to be removed, that course of action may under certain circumstances be appealing. I'm afraid that if this situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, and if Iran is perceived as in some fashion involved or responsible, or a potential beneficiary, that temptation could arise." [Emphasis added]

The "sensational" provocation that Brzezinski alluded to was this (NYT):

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

As I say, draw your own conclusions, but one has to ask why someone like Brzezinski would want to open this particular can of worms in public. It may have been a sort of preemptive strike: an attempt to create enough suspicion before the fact that the White House would be discouraged from trying to carry out the kinds of provocations Brzezinski warned about.

None of this received any coverage in the major US media.

Posted by Jonathan at February 7, 2007 02:19 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Right off Brzezinski ignores the fact that iranian Qods Force is active in Iraq now. They're not there doing humanitarian aid, they're there to foment war between Shias and Sunnis. US Forces have captured some already.

QOD's force activities aren't just terrorist entities. They're not stateless people like Al Quaida. They're Iranian Revolutionary Guards soldiers, handpicked and trained, supplied with funding from the Iranian Government, given direction from their ruling council of mullahs and are as much an extension of that government as the KGB was of Stalin or that the Gestapo was of the Nazis.

Action by QODs Force against US Forces isn't a pretext for war, it's a definative act of war. It would be no different than Japanese Or German forces making deliberate attacks against US forces in 1939 as a prelude to the main attack or just as their way of making an attack.

We've gone to blows with Iran over far less. See Operation Preying Mantis and the events leading up to that for more details.

Posted by: Montieth at February 9, 2007 09:47 AM

I'd be interested to see some support of the idea that there's a QODs force in Iraq. Also consider that not all Shia are pro-Iranian--there's an element of Arab vs. Persian ethnic conflict at work that limit the effectiveness of any Iranian special ops.

Even if there were QODs in Iraq, I'm not sure it much matters. Seems as though the Sunnis and the Neo-Baath have done plenty to forment sectarian conflict.

Posted by: Michael at February 9, 2007 11:05 AM