Following Seymour Hersch’s recent piece in the New Yorker I wondered whether my own scepticism about the likelihood of a US attack on Iran was becoming an increasingly lonely position to hold. Especially having marched through London with maybe 30000 peace activists many of whom carrying placards giving testimony to their fears of an imminent US or Israeli bombing campaign against Iran.
However, I am still far from convinced that the USA has the political ambition or military capability to take out Iran’s dispersed nuclear development programme, without incurring a backlash that even the most hawkish pentagon planner would be able to see coming.
It seems some others still agree with me, and they are people better qualified and informed than I am. In Pakistan recently Tariq Ali said that he thought an attack on Iran unlikely, although I haven’t been able to find anything from him in writing about this subject.
The very well informed, and shrewd commentator, Rahul Mahajan, who writes the Empire Notes blog, is also sceptical.
In a very well argued piece, Mahajan points out that the same predictions were made by Seymour Hersch a year ago, and “all that has changed since then is that Bush has recklessly spent down his political capital, at home and abroad. There is more cooperation with Europe, but Europe doesn’t want military action.
“Some would say that this is also an exact repeat of the leadup to the Iraq war, complete with statements that Iran has a chance to resolve this diplomatically, or the U.S. will go to war. The difference, of course, is that the Iraq war was undertaken in an era of expansive military triumphalism, when nearly all informed opinion thought the Vietnam syndrome had been kicked forever; a mere three years later, we live in an era of stark pessimism about the ability of the United States to transform the world by violence.
“So I think what we are seeing is what military analyst Fred Kaplan calls a game of “nuclear chicken.” The United States and Iran are locking themselves into a collision course, each saying that it will not back down under any circumstances. The threat of military strikes against Iran shows not the likelihood of military action but the desperation of the United States, which seems to have exhausted all its cards and can only hope to scare the Iranians into negotiating.”
After all, you would hardly expect the US government to make an anouncement like: "We are worried about Iran getting Nukes, but we have bitten off more than we can chew in Iraq and Afghanistan, and used up all our good will with our allies, so we are just going to have to let them do what they want"