Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wolcott isn't Bullish on Bolton

Wag the Frog

Nothing tops off a nice lunch better than the juvenating prospect of a bombing campaign--John Bolton's idea of a suitable last hurrah.

Bolton, currently receiving wingnut welfare from the wolfman division of the American Enterprise Institute (and Norman Ornstein in his innocence wonders why some malign that collegial nest of applied intellects and cast such ugly, guilt-by-association aspersions) and about to release his new rootin' tootin' manifesto Surrender Is Not an Option, recently sat down for lunch at Washington's Mayflower Hotel with Edward Luce of the Financial Times. Donald Rumsfeld was also in the restaurant, making a cameo appearance. It's a lively chat, with occasional lapses into Awkward Pauses, and finally each reaches his food intake quota for the afternoon.

As we wait for the bill, we finally get round to the subject of Iran. Bolton finishes with a flourish, confidently predicting that George W. Bush will launch a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office.

He can’t resist one last European dig. "Four years of European diplomacy have given the Iranians the one asset they could not have purchased--and that was time," he says, wagging his finger. "And now, irony of ironies, after fiddling around with all this futile diplomacy, we finally have a French president [Nicolas Sarkozy] who sounds just like we do on Iran." C'est la guerre, I think. A sobering conclusion to a sober Anglo-Saxon meal.

If John Bolton ever wagged a finger at me, I'd be tempted to break it in two, especially if it were being wagged a conductor's baton downbeat to war. From such winks and nods from such plugged-in operators, you can't help but conclude that a military attack on Iran has been decided, an aura of inevitability is being woven into place, and any debate about its wisdom or morality will be a scenery-shifting pause (as with the invasion of Iraq) while the media and our elected representatives flex their lower halves before full complete abject kneeling capitulation. Heed the words of Scott Ritter, whose counsel, had it been taken, would have spared thousands upon thousands of lives in Iraq:

Iran today is a nation suffering under the combined effects of decades of sanctions, conflict and governmental mismanagement. There is a growing recognition inside Iran, reaching to the highest levels of government that something needs to be done to effect a change in course for the Islamic Republic. Iran has long since ceased engaging in the kind of irresponsible international adventurism which characterized its export of the Islamic Revolution. Iran’s nuclear program, declared as being exclusively for energy use, has become an impediment towards the normalization of relations with the world, and Iran would be willing to negotiate it away if the appropriate diplomatic environment could be created, especially vis-à-vis the United States. Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah in Lebanon could likewise be moderated through genuine diplomatic engagement which sought a resolution to the crisis in southern Lebanon in a manner which respected the sovereign will of the citizens of south Lebanon.

The bottom line is that while one may be able to articulate justification for prudent military contingency planning in the Middle East inclusive of an Iranian scenario (I myself participated in such planning in the mid-1980’s), there must be a distinction between planning and implementation. Implementation of military action should only come in the face of an identified viable threat, authorized by proper authorities in accordance with due process set forth by legal mandate, and then only when all venues short of conflict have been exhausted in seeking a resolution to the situation. None of these prerequisites for conflict have been met in the case of the current state of affairs between Iran and the United States. Simply put, there is no justification whatsoever for the United States to be planning for the implementation of a pre-emptive war of aggression against Iran.

But lack of justification hasn't stopped the US before, which is why Bolton sounds so sanguine as he makes his exit stage-right.

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