Juan Cole’s new article—The Iran Hawks—is available at Salon. Cole reflects on the frenzy over the increasing belligerence towards Iran by the presidential candidates and media. Cole concludes with a warning:
Iran has not launched an aggressive war against a neighbor since 1785 and does not have a history of military expansionism. Its population is a third that of the United States and its military is small and weak. Aside from the Republican Party’s long history of fear-mongering as a way to get power, throw public money to their corporate clients, and scare Americans into giving up their civil liberties, what is driving this obsession with Tehran?
Candidates may be talking about Iran as an indirect and politically safer way of speaking to voters’ anxieties about Iraq. As an issue in itself, Iraq contains many pitfalls. It is a quagmire about which a former commanding general in that country, Rick Sanchez, said last Friday, “There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end.”
The Iraq problem is so intractable that bringing it up with voters is dangerous, since they will then ask about policy prescriptions, and most experts agree that the U.S. has no good options. Iran, in contrast, looms as a vague sort of threat on the horizon and politicians can therefore pull out of their tool kits their favorite instrument — speaking hypothetically without committing to a particular course of action. The problem, as Chris Dodd and Barack Obama saw so clearly, is that in attempting to change the conversation to Iran, American politicians and their morbidly aggressive constituents may be vastly widening the quagmire, playing Katrina to the Middle East’s New Orleans. [Emphasis added]
Irancove @ October 17, 2007