[Marxism] New pearl Harbor

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Sun Nov 25 11:44:26 MST 2007

Here is a more recent follow up to the Porter article.

     How the Military Can Stop an Iran Attack
     by Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith; The Nation; October 10, 2007

         ( October 9, 2007) Sometimes history--and necessity--make  
strange bedfellows. The German general staff transported Lenin to  
Russia to lead a revolution. Union-buster Ronald Reagan played  
godfather to the birth of the Polish Solidarity union. Equally  
strange--but perhaps equally necessary--is the addressee of a new  
appeal signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright and many  
other leaders of the American peace movement:

         "ATTENTION: Joint Chiefs of Staff and all U.S. Military  
Personnel: Do not attack Iran."

    The initiative responds to the growing calls for an attack on  
Iran from the likes of Norman Podhoretz and John Bolton, and the  
reports of growing war momentum in Washington by reporters like  
Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Joe Klein of Time. International  
lawyer Scott Horton says European diplomats at the recent United  
Nations General Assembly gathering in New York "believe that the  
United States will launch an air war on Iran, and that it will occur  
within the next six to eight months." He puts the likelihood of  
conflict at 70 percent.

  The initiative also responds to the recent failure of Congress to  
pass legislation requiring its approval before an attack on Iran and  
the hawk-driven resolution encouraging the President to act against  
the Iranian military. Marcy Winograd, president of Progressive  
Democrats of Los Angeles, who originally suggested the petition, told  
The Nation:

  If we thought that our lawmakers would restrain the Bush  
Administration from further endangering Americans and the rest of the  
world, we would concentrate solely on them. If we went to Las Vegas  
today, would we find anyone willing to bet on this Congress  
restraining Bush? I don't think so.

  Because our soldiers know the horrors of war--severed limbs,  
blindness, brain injury--they are loath to romanticize the  
battlefield or glorify expansion of the Iraq genocide that has left a  
million Iraqis dead and millions others exiled.

         Military Resistance

         What could be stranger than a group of peace activists  
petitioning the military to stop a war? And yet there is more logic  
here than meets the eye.   Asked in an online discussion September 27  
whether the Bush Administration will launch a war against Iran,  
Washington Post intelligence reporter Dana Priest replied, "Frankly,  
I think the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly  
those missions."  She acknowledged that she had indulged in a bit of  
hyperbole, then added, "but not much."

   There have been many other hints of military disaffection from  
plans to attack Iran--indeed, military resistance may help explain  
why, despite years of rumors about Bush Administration intentions,  
such an attack has not yet occurred. A Pentagon consultant told Hersh  
more than a year ago, "There is a war about the war going on inside  
the building." Hersh also reported that Gen. Peter Pace had forced  
Bush and Cheney to remove the "nuclear option" from the plans for  
possible conflict with Iran--in the Pentagon it was known as the  
April Revolution.

  In December, according to Time correspondent Joe Klein, President  
Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure room known as The  
Tank. The President was told that "the U.S. could launch a  
devastating air attack on Iran's government and military, wiping out  
the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of  
the more obvious nuclear facilities." But the Joint Chiefs were  
"unanimously opposed to taking that course of action," both because  
it might not eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and because Iran could  
respond devastatingly in Iraq--and in the United States.

    In an article published by Inter Press Service, historian and  
national security policy analyst Gareth Porter reported that Adm.  
William Fallon, Bush's then-nominee to head the Central Command  
(Centcom), sent the Defense Department a strongly worded message  
earlier this year opposing the plan to send a third carrier strike  
group into the Persian Gulf. In another Inter Press analysis, Porter  
quotes someone who met with Fallon saying an attack on Iran "will not  
happen on my watch." He added, "You know what choices I have. I'm a  
professional.... There are several of us trying to put the crazies  
back in the box."

   Military officers in the field have frequently refuted Bush  
Administration claims about Iranian arms in Iraq and Afghanistan.  
Porter says that when a State Department official this June publicly  
accused Iran of giving arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US  
commander of NATO forces there twice denied the claim.

   More recently, top brass have warned that the United States is not  
prepared for new wars. Gen. George Casey, the Army's top commander,  
recently made a highly unusual personal request for a House Armed  
Services Committee hearing in which he warned that "we are consumed  
with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to  
provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential  
contingencies." While this could surely be interpreted as a call for  
more troops and resources, it may simultaneously be a warning shot  
against adventures in Iran.

    An October 8 report by Tim Shipman in the Telegraph says that  
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has "taken charge of the forces in the  
American government opposed to a US military attack on Iran." He  
cites Pentagon sources saying that Gates is waging "a subtle campaign  
to undermine the Cheney camp" and that he is "encouraging the Army's  
senior officers to speak frankly about the overstretch of forces, and  
the difficulty of fighting another war." Shipman reports Gates has  
"forged an alliance with Mike McConnell, the national director of  
intelligence, and Michael Hayden, the head of the Central  
Intelligence Agency, to ensure that Mr. Cheney's office is not the  
dominant conduit of information and planning on Iran to Mr. Bush."

    Every indication is that the "war about the war" is ongoing.  
Hersh recently reported that the attack-Iran faction has found a new  
approach that it hopes will be more acceptable to the public--and  
presumably to the Pentagon brass. Instead of broad bombing attacks  
designed to eliminate Iran's nuclear capacity and promote regime  
change, it calls for "surgical strikes" on Revolutionary Guard  
facilities; they would be justified as retaliation in the "proxy war"  
that General Petraeus alleges Iran is fighting "against the Iraqi  
state and coalition forces in Iraq." According to Hersh, the revised  
bombing plan is "gathering support among generals and admirals in the  
Pentagon." But Israeli officials are concerned that such a plan might  
leave Iran's nuclear capacity intact.

            Appeal to Principle

   The appeal for military personnel to resist an attack is primarily  
based on principle. It asserts that any pre-emptive US attack on Iran  
would be illegal under international law and a crime under US law.  
Such an attack would violate Article II, Section 4, of the UN Charter  
forbidding the threat or use of force against the territorial  
integrity or political independence of any state. Since Iran has not  
attacked the United States, an attack against it without  
authorization by the Security Council would be a violation of  
international law. Under the US Constitution and the UN Charter, this  
is the law of the land. Under the military's own laws, armed forces  
have an obligation to refuse orders that violate US law and the  
Constitution. And under the principles established by the Nuremberg  
War Crimes Tribunal after World War II, "just obeying orders" is no  
defense for officials who participate in war crimes.

    But the petition also addresses some of the practical concerns  
that have clearly motivated military officers to oppose an attack on  
Iran. It would open US soldiers in Iraq to decimation by Iranian  
forces or their Iraqi allies. It would sow the seeds of hatred for  
generations. Like the attack on Iraq, it would create more enemies,  
promote terrorism and make American families less safe.

  The petitioners recognize the potential risks of such action to  
military personnel. "If you heed our call and disobey an illegal  
order you could be falsely charged with crimes including treason. You  
could be falsely court martialed. You could be imprisoned."

  But they also accept risks themselves, aware that "in violation of  
our First Amendment rights, we could be charged under remaining  
section of the unconstitutional Espionage Act or other  
unconstitutional statute, and that we could be fined, imprisoned, or  
barred from government employment."

  In ordinary times, peace activists would hardly be likely to turn  
to the military as allies. Indeed, they would rightfully be wary of  
military officers acting on their own, rather than those of their  
civilian superiors--in violation of the Constitution's provisions for  
civilian oversight of the military. But these are hardly ordinary  
times. While the public is highly dubious of getting into another war  
in the Middle East, there now appear to be virtually no institutional  
barriers to doing so.

         Military-Civilian Alliance

         Is there a basis for cooperation between the military brass  
and citizens who believe an attack on Iran would be criminal and/or  
suicidal? Perhaps. The brass can go public with the truth and ask  
Congress to provide a platform for explaining the real consequences  
of an attack on Iran. They can call for a national debate that is not  
manipulated by the White House. (They can also inform other players  
of the consequences: tell Wall Street the effects on oil and stock  
prices and tell European military and political leaders what it is  
likely to mean in terms of terrorism.) The peace movement has already  
forged an alliance with Iraq War veterans who oppose the war and with  
high military officials who oppose torture; a tacit alliance with the  
brass to halt an attack on Iran is a logical next step.

  Such an approach puts the problem of civilian control of the  
military in a different light. The purpose of civilian control, after  
all, is not to subject the military to the dictatorial control of one  
man who may, at the least, express the foolishness and frailty that  
all flesh is heir to. The purpose is to subject the military to the  
control of democratic governance, which is to say of an informed  
public and its representatives.

  What contribution can the peace movement make to this process? We  
can cover military officials' backs when they speak out--no one is  
better placed than the peace movement to defend them against Bushite  
charges of defying civilian control. We can help open a forum for  
military officers to speak out. Many retired officers have spoken out  
publicly on the folly of the war in Iraq. We can use our venues in  
universities and communities to invite them to speak out even more  
forcefully on the folly of an attack on Iran. We can place ads  
pointing out military resistance to an attack on Iran and featuring  
warnings of its possible consequences from past and present military  
officials. And we can encourage lawmakers to reach out to military  
officials and offer to give them cover and a forum to speak out. Says  
petition initiator Marcy Winograd, "I'd like to see peace activists  
and soldiers sit down, break bread, march together, testify together  
and forge a powerful union to end the next war before the  
bloodletting begins."

   The peace movement leaders who appealed to the military had to  
break through the conventional presumption that the brass were their  
enemies in all situations. Such an unlikely alliance could be a  
starting point for a nonviolent response to the Bush Administration's  
pursuit of a permanent state of war.

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