Published: July 23, 2007 at 10:10 AM
Commentary: Dogs of war
By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVEUPI Editor at Large
WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- Republican candidate for the presidency Rudy Giuliani, the leading hawk among presidential hopefuls, has appointed Norman Podhoretz senior adviser for foreign policy. A founding member of the neo-con movement, Podhoretz, in the June issue of Commentary magazine, called for an immediate attack on Iran. Either we bomb Iran now, or "we could wake up one morning to find that Iran is holding Berlin, Paris or London hostage to whatever its demands are then." The geopolitical label for the process is the "Islamization" of Europe, which neo-cons say is a rerun of Hitler's conquest of Europe in the 1930s and 40s. Giuliani's eight-member foreign policy team also includes Martin Kramer, an Israeli-American expert on Shia Islam at Harvard and a fellow with both the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center ("for the development of Zionist thought"). Kramer once said the tendency by American Middle Eastern academics to neglect radical Islam as an issue was partly to blame for the failure to anticipate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Giuliani clearly sets store in the counsel of a man who calls for "bombs away" over Iran ASAP. The Economist, arguably the world's most prestigious weekly publication, worries about those who believe -- as Podhoretz does -- "contrary to what many people assume, that (Bush) will order the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities before he leaves office 18 months hence." John McCain's campaign is stalled with a flat tire and no spare in the trunk, but should it ever get under way again, he also has prominent neo-con support: William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, and columnist Robert Kagan. One of McCain's advisers, a former ranking member of president Reagan's administration, told this writer privately, "if we had any guts we'd nuke Iran." Israel's once and possibly future prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, says "the Iranian regime is basically a messianic apocalyptic cult," and if he's right, the Economist writes in this week's cover story, "the world is teetering on the edge of a terrifying crisis. It is vital to understand that this third finale is not a nightmare dreamt up by editorial writers (and this columnist)." "After the false intelligence that led America into Iraq ... it may seem hard to believe that America or Israel are pondering an attack on a much bigger Muslim country," says the Economist. "But they are -- and they are not mad. This time, after all, there is no question of false intelligence: The world's fears are based on capabilities that Iran itself boasts about openly. Nor would there be another invasion: This would be an attack from the air, aimed at disabling or destroying Iran's nuclear sites. From a technical point of view, launching such an attack is well within America's capabilities (America has lately reinforced its carrier fleet in the Persian Gulf) and perhaps within Israel's, too." U.S. allies, bar Israel, dismiss such a scenario as so many bats in Uncle Sam's belfry. Iran's retaliatory capabilities are formidable. Most of Iran's nuclear sites are close to population centers and the first video of dead women and children would set the Middle East ablaze and unite Shia and Sunni Muslims against the United States and Israel. Shia minorities in eastern Saudi Arabia sabotaging oil production nerve centers; a Shia majority in Bahrain, headquarters for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, turning on its Sunni royal family; thousands of Iranian rockets and missiles fired by Hezbollah into Israel; Iranian mines in the Hormuz Strait (sending oil to $200 a barrel); the activation of thousands of Iranian agents in Iraq and Afghanistan against U.S. forces; the denunciation of the Bush administration by the Iraqi government; Iraqi forces turning against their embedded U.S. advisers -- all that and a good deal more would be triggered by U.S. and/or Israeli bombs on Iran. On the other hand, Iran's nuclear weapons program is an existential threat to Israel. For most Israelis, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the embodiment of a second holocaust. He may not have said he wants to wipe Israel off the map, but his numerous necrological predictions about Israel's demise, soon to be relegated to the history books, are made of the same shroud. Nikita Khrushchev also pledged to bury the West, but the Soviet leadership was deterred by America's nuclear arsenal that would have consigned his country to oblivion. Ahmadinejad and some of the elder clerics who supervise him may not be deterred by widespread destruction. Isn't that the kind of global wrack and ruin they believe will beset the world before the 12th Imam returns to Earth to lead the world, free of apostate vermin, to peace and plenty under the banner of Islam? Could there still be any doubt about Iran's nuclear intentions? Does anyone really believe that a country with the world's second largest oil reserves, with production slated to increase from 2 million to 4 million barrels a day, has spent the past 22 years, with the help of Pakistan's Dr. A.Q. Khan and his black market in nuclear know-how, simply building peaceful nuclear energy capability? It taxes credulity. The Economist still believes that "for Israel containment of a nuclear Iran would be less awful than a risky pre-emptive attack that would probably cause mayhem, strengthen the regime and merely delay the day Iran gets a bomb. Yet the whole world still has a huge interest in preventing that day from coming." It is equally clear that once Iran goes nuclear, other regional players -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey -- will feel compelled to follow suit "thereby entangling the Middle East in a cat's cradle of nuclear tripwires."