As many have pointed out, Bush's planned "surge" of forces in Iraq makes no sense: the proposed additional troops will be unlikely to effect any difference in the equation of violence, retribution, and bloodshed that characterizes Iraq today. Indeed, the likelihood is that additional American troops will exacerbate the explosive situation.
While I agree with those who say that Bush's ego and his refusal to see reality underwrite much of this certainly doomed misadventure, I have also been made very uneasy by some other events of the past few weeks, to wit:
- the sending of more warships and air power to the Persian Gulf
- the appointment of Admiral Fallon to replace Abizaid as head of CENTCOM
- the training of Israeli assault squadrons for a tactical nuclear attack on Iran
Paul Craig Roberts shares these concerns in an article on Antiwar.com:
Bush’s proposed surge appears to have no real military purpose. The US military opposes it as militarily pointless and as damaging to the US Army and Marine Corps. The surge can only be accomplished by keeping troops deployed after the arrival of their replacements. Moreover, the increase in numbers that can be achieved in this way are far short of the numbers required to put down the insurgency and civil war.
The only purpose of the surge is to distract Congress while plans are implemented to widen the war.
How might Bush and his neocon advisors manipulate US citizens to get behind a wider war in the Middle East? I've thought myself that we will soon witness a Gulf of Tonkin maneuver; Roberts goes a bit further:
Two US carrier task forces or strike groups will certainly congest the Persian Gulf. On January 9, a US nuclear sub collided with a Japanese tanker in the Persian Gulf. Two carrier groups will have scant room for maneuver. Their purpose is either to provide the means for a hard hit on Iran or to serve as sitting ducks for a new Pearl Harbor that would rally Americans behind the new war.
Whether our ships are hit by Iran in retaliation to an attack from Israel or suffer an orchestrated attack by Israel that is blamed on the Iranians, there are certainly far more US naval forces in the Persian Gulf than prudence demands.
He argues that it's now or possible never for the Israelis to take down Iran:
Since the danger, if any, is years away, why is Israel so determined to attack Iran now?
The answer might be that Israel has the chance now. The Bush administration is in its pocket. The White House is working with neoconservatives, not with the American foreign policy community represented by the Iraq Study Group. Neoconservative propagandists are in influential positions in the media. The US Congress is intimidated by AIPAC. The correlation of forces are heavily in Israel’s favor.
Israel has two years remaining to use its American resources to achieve its aims in the Middle East. How influential will Israel and the neoconservatives be with the next president in the wake of a US defeat in Iraq and Israeli defeat in Lebanon? If the US withdraws its troops from Iraq, as the US military and foreign policy community recommend and as polls show the American public wants, the only effect of Bush’s Iraq invasion will have been to radicalize Muslims against Israel, the US, and US puppet governments in the Middle East. Extremist elements will tout their victory over the US, and the pressures on Israel to accept a realistic accommodation with Palestinians will be overpowering.
Now is the chance – the only chance – for Israel and the neoconservatives to achieve their goal of bringing Muslims to heel, a goal that they have been writing about and working to achieve for a decade.
And in order to do that, Americans must rally behind yet another war. I doubt that Americans are chomping at the bit for another war of choice, for a "pre-emptive" war, so I believe that something will be done to create the appearance that we will be fighting a war of defense. I believe the pieces are being put into place for that to happen.
From the US point of view, the issue of oil and guaranteed access to oil should never be forgotten (witness the recent windfall for Western oil companies with the imminent passage of an unprecedented law to allow those companies to exploit Iraq's oil reserves). In addition, the US is alarmed by the increasing desire of various nations to use the Euro, rather than the dollar, as their preferred currency of commerce.
As Global Research points out,
The oil fields are encircled: NATO war ships stationed in the Eastern Mediterranean (as part of a UN "peace keeping" operation), US Carrier Strike Groups and Destroyer Squadrons in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian deployed as part of the "war on terrorism".
Indeed, let us not forget about the militarization of the Easter Mediterranean. Ostensibly a peacekeeping operation following the Israeli war in Lebanon, the military buildup there can be seen by those cynics among us as the placing of war personnel and materiel where they can be used in a wider war. From Global Research:
In September, Germany dispatched a fleet of eight ships including 2 frigates, with up to 2,400 personnel aboard. The German navy will be in charge of the multinational naval force, which has, under its official UNIFIL mandate "to prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah". The German naval force will operate out of the Cyprus port of Limassol, located within less than 100 km. from the Lebanon-Syria coastline. The Cyprus based multinational naval force could eventually be used to encroach on maritime trade with Syria. In early October, Turkey dispatched several warships, which will join the multinational naval force under German command. While Turkey is formally part of the UN international force (UNIFIL), it is also a close military ally of Israel. Greek, Bulgarian and Italian warships have also been dispatched to the Lebanese coast.
France has dispatched armored vehicle and infantry units. (Chars Leclerc see below).
The nature of the military equiipment and weapons systems being deployed has little to do with "peace-keeping". Moreover, NATO established a close military partnership with Israel in 2005, which in practice binds NATO member countries involved in Lebanon to fully cooperate with Israel.
So keep in mind that Bush's proposed "surge," while it will surely result in many more deaths and much more misery (along with further raids on the US Treasury, such as it is), isn't really the big fish here. While everyone debates tactics in Iraq, other storm clouds may be gathering.
Once again, I very much wish to be wrong on this. I had worried about a strike against Iran before the election, and that didn't happen. I'd rather be paranoid than right.
[Other posts on Iran may be found here.]