Friday, August 04, 2006

the Dems line up to salute the Israeli war machine

* billmon:
"But there's one big problem with all this hyperventilating: It wildly exaggerates the anti-war fevor that Ned Lamont supposedly represents. Oh I know Ned says he's anti-war, but he only means the war in Iraq. The war in Lebanon, on the other hand, is just fine by him. And he's already pledged he'll be just as staunch a friend of Israel and the Israel lobby in this war as Holy Joe ever was or ever could be. So bombs away.

But Lamont's stance also reflects a glaring contradiction in the emerging Democratic consensus on U.S. policy in the Middle East (a consensus which is about to make Joe Lieberman a man without a party). Politically, it's a position that won't be sustainable for long. And as a matter of policy, it's a recipe for an even wider and more destructive war -- one I fully expect most Democrats, including Lamont, will end up supporting, despite the consequences.

The contradiction is between the growing sentiment among both grassroots Democrats and party leaders in favor of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. military forces (or at least ground forces) from Iraq, and the effect such a withdrawal would have, both on the overall strategic balance in the Middle East and on Israel's war against Hizbullah.

If the United States were to begin pulling troops out of Iraq now, it would be interpreted correctly throughout the Middle East as an open admission of defeat -- one that would likely lead fairly quickly to a complete American evacuation of the country. (Maybe not literally by landing helicopters on the roof of the embassy, but all in the region would understand the military reality that as the force grows smaller it will become progressively more dangerous to keep it in Iraq.)

Such an outcome could force well Iraq's Shi'a political leaders to snuggle up even more tightly to Iran, if only as a matter of physical survival. If the full-scale civil war everyone seems to expect were to break out following an American withdrawal, Baghdad might even feel compelled to call in Iranian troops. At a minimum, Iran could be left with enormous influence over, if not outright control of, the Iraqi government and its security forces. Access to Iraqi air space would give Iran a direct resupply corridor to Syria, and, through Syria, to Hizbullah. A ground presence could provide Tehran with a direct ground link -- call it the Ayatollah Khomeini Trail -- assuming the Kurds could be bought off and/or intimidated, or the Sunni belt pacified (one shudders to think of what that might involve.)

Presto: one Shi'a crescent to go.
If, as it now seems, Washington and Jerusalem both perceive Iran as the primary threat (and/or target for aggression) in the region, then there is no real distinction between America's occupation of Iraq and Israel's intended re-occupation of southern Lebanon. They are, in essence, both part of the next war.
What's become clear to me is that the Democratic Party (even it's allegedly anti-war wing) will not try to stop this insanity, and in fact will probably be led as meekly to the slaughter as it was during the runup to the Iraq invasion. Watching the Dems line up to salute the Israeli war machine, hearing the uncomfortable and awkward silence descend on Left Blogistan once the bombs started falling in Lebanon, seeing how easily the same Orwellian propaganda tricks worked their magic on the pseudoliberals -- all this doesn't leave too much room for doubt. As long as World War III can be sold as protecting the security and survival of the Jewish state, I suspect the overwhelming majority of Democratics will support it.

I think the moment when I realized the Dems once again were going to be -- would always be -- dutiful spear carriers for the neocons was after Howard Dean and company treated the Iraqi prime minister's recent visit to Washington as an opportunity to do a little pro-Israel pandering of their own. To my eternal shame, I initially defended this ploy as a necessary bit of Machiavellian cynicism -- a way for the Dems to protect their right flank from a president who not only thinks Israel is the 51st state but a red state to boot.

Cynical it certainly was. And in another situation I might have been justified in making allowances. It's a stinking, corrupt system, and to expect purity is to expect defeat. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that a party leadership that really cared about bringing the troops home probably wouldn't be so cavalier about trashing a guy who is actually a pretty crucial part of making that possible.
The lesson learned from the Democratic reaction to the Israel's war of choice is that the Dems are only likely to oppose war as long as the war in question can be framed as a fight against Iraqi insurgents and/or Shi'a death squads, rather than a fight for Israel. But the Iraq occupation isn't going to fit neatly into that frame much longer. In fact it's already slipped out of it. The Dems -- always a little slow on the uptake -- just haven't realized it yet. But when the time comes to choose (for Israel, or against war with Iran) I fully expect to see Ned Lamont in the front ranks of the pro-war phalanx, right next to the last great white Democratic anti-war hope, Howard Dean.
The truth is that on the most important issue of our time -- the cliff that drops into total darkness -- the only real opposition left in this country is in the Pentagon, where, according to Sy Hersh, at least some of the generals are trying to stall the march to war. Plus whatever scattered resistance is left in the intelligence agencies following the purges of the past couple of years.

It is a stunning testament to the political devolution of this country that the most effective anti-war movement in America is inside the walls of the Pentagon or buried deep in the bowels of the CIA! But that is the reality, thanks in no small part to the Dems and the Israel lobby.
The Dems are now just the cadet branch of the War Party. While the party nomenklatura is finally, after three blood years, making dovish noises about the Iraq fiasco, I think their loyalty to Israel will almost certainly snap them back into line during the coming "debate" over war with Iran.

I hope like hell I'm wrong about this, but I don't think I am. So I guess I'll just have to accept being labeled a traitor to the cause -- or whatever the hardcore partisans are calling it. Whatever. They're certainly free to follow their party over the cliff (we're all going over it anyway) but I'd at least prefer to do it with my eyes open.'
ain't that depressing. read the rest for the full flavour.

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