Sunday, December 14, 2008

Iran Ate My Caliphate

by Jeff Huber

Last week, at a meeting of his country's ruling party, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak accused Iran of "trying to devour the Arab states." Don't worry, Hosni. Iran won't eat you. It can't. It can't sit on you either. It's too far away.

What led Mubarak to say such a mean thing about Iran? Well, it seems that a bunch of Iranian students shouted a bunch of mean things at the Egyptian embassy in Tehran, including their apparently genuine wish that someone would hang Mubarak. The Iranian students shouted mean things about Mubarak because Egypt wouldn't let the Iranian Red Crescent sneak around Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip and deliver food and supplies to Palestinians, who have been reduced to eating grass.

So Iran wasn't trying to eat Arabs; it was trying to feed them. Gee, how did Mubarak get that story all backwards?

Mr. Congeniality

If there's a big blue meanie in this scenario, it's Mubarak, who for two years running has made Parade magazine's "World's Worst Dictators" list. Mubarak has stayed in power in Egypt for over a quarter century through military rule, torture, emergency law, rigged elections, and keeping his nose planted in Israel's tohkes (and, by extension, America's as well).

But if he says the Iranians are up to no good, the no goodniks, that's good enough for us, because we've had years of Dick Cheney and his Iran Directorate telling us how bad Iran is.

Though they have yet to prove any of their allegations, the Cheney Gang has most of the world believing the Iranians are responsible for arming militants in Iraq. The world, mostly because of the mainstream media's indolence, is largely unconscious that the party most responsible for handing out free guns to Iraqi yahooligans is General David Petraeus. Nor is the world especially cognizant that the reductions in violence that Petraeus so merrily takes credit for are actually the result of Iran brokering a peace agreement between Shiite factions headed by cleric Muqtada al Sadr and Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki.

The preponderance of the world believes Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, despite decisive statements by U.S. intelligence agencies that they abandoned their program in fall of 2003. The Russians didn't begin building Iran's first reactor until fall of 2002, so whatever nuclear program Iran had must have been the kind of thing a bunch of Revolutionary Guard colonels drew on the back of a napkin on a rainy afternoon Fort Farsi Officers' Club. That U.S. intelligence granted the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program at all was almost certainly a result of pressure from Lord Cheney's leg breakers.

The world perceives that Iran instigated Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon because of allegations like the one made by the Israeli cabinet that Lebanon had become infested with "Iranian-sponsored terrorist enclaves of murder." This perception endures despite the discoverable big block facts in the Lebanon conflict: the Israelis were the ones who blew the bejesus out of southern Lebanon, and the Persian Iranians were the ones who came in afterward and offer aid to injured and homeless Arabs despite attempts by the nice guy Arabs in Turkey and Saudi to stop them.

And now the Persian Shiite Iranians are the ones trying to help Sunni Palestinian Arabs in Gaza who the Israelis are starving, and it's Egyptian Sunni Arab Mubarak who's assisting Israel and who's trying to paint Iran as the bad guy.

Welcome to your Brave New World Order, fellow citizens. Black is white, up is down, scumbags rule, humanitarian works are acts of aggression and so say the round heeled news media.

Witness this statement from January 2008 by the British Telegraph: "Iran is known to use humanitarian aid to further its political aims around the region."

Stunning humbuggery. Simply stunning.

And everybody knows, of course, that the Iranians want to get their mitts on nuclear weapons so they can blow Israel off the map because that's what their president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said. Well, actually, nobody knows that because that's not what Ahmadinejad said. He was actually quoting the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and according to Professor Juan Cole and other Farsi speaking commentators, Ahmadinejad's exact words were "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."

But everybody says he said he wants to nuke Israel off the face of the earth, and what everybody says is what passes for gospel truth in our Rovewellian age.

Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons or a program to make any. It may or may not have ballistic missiles that will reach Israel, but without nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles are little more than multi-million dollar popguns. Iran's army can't project power more than ten miles beyond its borders, Iran's air force can't fly to the other side of the Persian Gulf, and its bathtub navy, while an effective coastal and choke point denial force, couldn't go toe-to-to with the Somali pirates because it would sink of natural causes before it got halfway to Africa.

Iran can't do much to our troops in Iraq. If—and this is a big if—they manage to talk the Shiite militias into throwing themselves against the fence in an all out assault on our forces, so what? You couldn't ask for a better opportunity to wipe out the Shiite militias. You hear speculation that Iran might mobilize Hamas and Hezbollah against our Iraq enclaves, but what would they use to mobilize them? Flying carpets?

A lot of folks also believe the talk that Iran might incite the rest of the Middle East into a full-blown major regional conflict, but how on earth are the Middle Eastern nations going to fight each other? The past 50 years or so have clearly demonstrated that none of them can successfully project conventional military power into any of their neighbors' territories, much less any other countries in the area. Iran's maritime forces might be able to close the Strait of Hormuz briefly, and could very well pull our Navy's pants around its ankles in broad daylight, but Iran would only do that if we attacked it for no real reason.

And as we've discussed, we have no real reason to attack Iran. We have no real reason to demonize them the way we have been either, except that making a boogie man out of the Persians is the best thing the warmongery has left to justify staying in Iraq, something they seem intent on doing despite the agreement young Mr. Bush just signed that says we'll leave.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Also catch Scott Horton's interview with Jeff at Antiwar Radio.


  1. Ok Commander, take out one of the "ss" in Tuesday in the header.

    Maybe these guys could just throw their shoes at Mubarak????

    Only person seeming to want to do anything about the Palistinian/Israeli thing, at this point in time --- is Former President Jimmy Carter. He recognizes the basic fact: "In order to have peace - you have to have dialogue."

    So, he's over there --- doing what he's been doing for years. Talking to folks. Trying to make a difference.

  2. Okay, okay, I fixed it.

    Yes, good for Carter. I'm sure Rush Limbaugh is singing his praises right now.


  3. Mubarak and Mugabe are evil Mu's!

  4. I was beginning to think that maybe you liked Tuesday spelled with two (ss's).

    You and I both know that nobody is singing Carter's praises.

    And, to the man's credit, he doesn't seem to care one way or the other.

    On Huffington Post there is a "world" link. Like opening up a whole new thing (maybe even a whole new world).

    I swear, I read Gareth Porter on there earlier. And, that's where I found out about Carter and his trips to Lebanon, Syria, his talks with Hamas, etc.

    And, about the Palestinians reduced to having to eat grass, because the Israelis won't let the UN food convoys into Gaza.

    Gee, I guess WAPO missed the scoop.

    Now, the "Shoe at the Prez" thing has just about replaced Blago as the topic of the day (if you exclude the remains of the toddler in Florida --- and the guy who fleeced a bunch of millionaires out of their money.)

    And, they wonder why newspapers are dying.

  5. Yes, newspapers are dying and David Gregory is the new host of Meet the Press.

    We're on our own.


  6. General Quarters7:59 PM

    Why, Commander!

    We have EVERY real reason to attack Iran (or alternately some other disagreeable, preferably Muslim, shit hole). Our economy is melting down; if it collapses (or is scrammed), the humbuggers would need a most compelling event to distract the restive peasantry whilst shifting their grip from soft to hard political power via martial law, full wartime mobilization, and the administration of a good, old fashioned asskicking to those churlish Ayatollahs.
    Undoubtedly, we would do this with air and sea power, keeping most of the troops at home to sooth the lumpenproletariat by their presence alone.

    If you are a subscriber to Keynesian economic theory, you might even believe that an attack on Iran would defibrillate the economy and would be damned good business for the defense profiteers, too. Apparently, at least someone at the Army War College is thinking along similar, if less specific, lines:

    You didn't throw those old uniforms away, did you?


  7. GQ,

    Yeah, another war will defibrilate the economy. The wars we're in aren't getting the job done.

    But you know, a shiny new penny says someone in the basement of a neocon think tank is saying that very thing.


  8. And yes, I threw those old uniforms away.


  9. Anonymous9:17 PM

    I keep wondering why governments throughtout this world are not up in arms regarding the genocide in Gaza.

    Off subject: in your previous post the inset photo of the "Spy vs Spy" by Anton Prohias from Mad magazine tells me that you definitely have the scene covered.

  10. I loved Spy v. Spy when I was a kid, and was always so impressed how Prohias kept coming up with new stuff.

    Not until I was older did it hit me what a deep understanding he actually had of how nations interact.


  11. Another sleepless night in Bushtopia...

    I'm not sure it matters anymore what economic theory you subscribe to; dead broke is dead broke. The last few months of watching the financial disaster unfold have pretty much cured me of martial-law paranoia or fear of another war. You have to be able to get it up before you can use it, after all, and it looks like the USG is just about out of Viagra.

    I do hope those neocon think-tankers are mindful of the fact that the last time we had "full wartime mobilization," the U.S.A. had a manufacturing economy and was a net energy exporter. Oh, and we also weren't the world's biggest deadbeats. And I wonder what they'll say when someone points out that it's very unlikely that the Chinese will keep paying our bills while we're kicking their asses (something inane and entirely beside the point, no doubt).

    Far from being a future of fire and brimstone, I think a more likely scenario has our great-grandchildren doing laundry for the Chinese to get the bills paid. Lots and lots of laundry.

  12. JP,

    I've just stolen your Chinese laundry idea for my next novel. Well done!;-)


  13. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Am I hallucinating? Or did I just see Cheney admit on national television that he was 1) aware of the (felonious) torture policy and 2) supported it?

    I can't tell if I am awake or asleep - would you pinch me?


  14. My guess this is a ploy: he has to admit to it before Bush can pardon him, or something like that.


  15. Steal away! It's not that far-fetched an idea, you know. During the California Gold Rush, laundry was shipped between San Francisco and Hawaii by sail. We can surely do better than that, in this amazing modern world we live in. We'll have to, actually, because 8.5 trillion dollars worth of laundry is a lot of laundry.

    As long as I'm not the guy who has to figure out how many container ships full of laundry that is, I think it's a great idea (actually, the geniuses at the Fed can probably handle that. They're really good at counting, even if their record-keeping sucks. And Bernanke and Paulson should get to do the first 500,000 pairs of underpants).

    Just remember, Chinese people, when you go to pick up your laundry make sure you bring your ticket. That Uncle Sam guy gets really testy if you don't have your ticket.

  16. Anonymous11:42 PM


    I think Iran could be great Ally to the US if we would just talk to them.

    What do you think?


  17. The Palestinians ain't nuthin but political ping pong balls in the Middle East and by extension, here.

    Want to know what the Iranians have taken seriously that most of the Muslim world historically hasn't?

    Birth control.

  18. SRL,

    They'd make an incredible ally.


    You know, it would take me some serious Socratic method maneuvering to knit this argument together, but being a nation that can come to terms with birth control may be why Iran is about to have a nuclear energy industry and the Arab world is still paying westerners to pull its oil out of the ground.


  19. Anonymous4:32 AM

    Is it our pride with having our noses bloody over the hostages that keeps us from talking to them? God we forced the Shah on them for how many years; blowback is a bitch. But seems to me that the people of Iran want to be our ally and they forgive us for our sins so isn't time for us to forgive them for their sins.
    Is it me or do you just feel we just stop worrying about the speck in our neighbors eyes we could get the pole out of our ass?

    When will we put our interest ahead of our pride? We need to talk to Iran so do you think Obama will? Do you think Carter would today if were President today?

    Sorry about my rant but this nation's willingness to go to war with Iran just blows my mind. Pride before interest is just mind bending.


    PS your stuff is a must read, because I learn something everytime I read you.

  20. SRL,

    Thanks for the nice words. Yes, I think the hostage thing is one of the main drivers of the obstinate policy, symptomatic of the below-the-waist thinking,.

    Yes, Carter would talk to Iran. I fear that Obama is about to retrench on most if not all of his campaign promises vis a vis Iraq.


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