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It's nearly that time—I know the preparations started early and everyone always claims to resent that but, let's face it, they really haven't been too obtrusive—so by now I'm sure, like me, you've got a good idea of how you and your family will be celebrating war with Iran.

I know, I know, it hasn't been officially announced yet, but it's as good as pencilled in on the calendar. With America's two biggest allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi, both agitating excitedly for it (Iran being perceived as, respectively, their biggest threat and biggest rival) then, whoever else we might wind up at war with in the next six or seven years, it's a safe bet that at some point we're dropping stuff on the Persians.

Of course, their government have proved to be very obliging by being gratifyingly deranged. Not, mark you, in any way measurably worse than their Saudi neighbours across the water (torture? executions? institutional misogyny? violent homophobia? The Panini sticker albums for both countries are looking remarkably similar at this point) but, crucially, they're on the wrong side and therefore intolerable. They don't help their own cause by being either reluctant or unable to learn from the sorry history of Saddam Hussein that, far from keeping powerful opponents away, wild threats, bluster and outright bluff actually pique them into popping round. “I've got a bomb and I'm crazy enough to use it!” is a stupid enough thing to say when you actually have a bomb.
“They found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization. In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities for building a bomb. This is simply a fact. We haven’t found it, if it does exist. It’s still a fantasy.” [Seymour Hersh, Democracy Now]
It's not the fact in isolation that Seymour Hersh is persuaded that there's no bomb out there; he can be wrong, after all.[1] It's more the background radiation that we're being steadily dosed with, the sorrow with which we're patiently told on a weekly basis that it's looking ever more inevitable, and if only there were something they could do, but Iran just won't stop with the bomb-making. Look, here's the IAEA's latest shock-horror report.

Actually, about that. The previous head of the IAEA, Mohammed el Baradei (as his name suggests) is himself from the Muslim world. He was less than impressed by attempts to rattle sabres in his neighbourhood and constantly fended off American attempts to conjure nuclear weapons out of Iranian dust. However, the man in charge since the middle of 2009, Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano, is an unrestrained and unabashed cheerleader for the States—his adopted country, right or wrong—describing himself as,
solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.
Since his appointment the IAEA has indeed been talking up the probability of Iran feverishly centrifuging and enriching away for all it's worth, although actual evidence of this remains as scant as it has been for the past decade—no more nuclear activity than you'd expect from a country with an eye to future oil shortages and keen to keep its lights on.

Intriguingly, that useful and informative titbit about Amano comes from a Wikileaks cable, but you won't find it if you browse the Guardian's cables database. MediaLens smells conspiracy in this omission and accuses the paper of being a stooge for anti-Iran forces. I'm not convinced, myself; it's an unspectacular cable whose import could easily have been overshadowed by more spectacular pickings in the Wikileaks information goldrush. But it's striking that there continues to be no mention of the IAEA chief's American cheerleading in any of our “naughty Iran” stories.

So even though the date isn't confirmed yet, at least pre-production is well under way. And everyone will tell you that war's just too commercial these days, but ignore the curmudgeons—there's never really been a time when it wasn't.

[1] However, I recommend this 2003 article where a Bush apologist exhaustively accuses Hersh of being wrong on every conceivable point about Iraq, the Pentagon, WMD and so on. Given what we know now, rather than merely suspected then, Hersh emerges looking almost like a time traveller from some future congressional inquiry while the article's author, Jack Shafer, comes off as deluded as American Dad.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 29th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
I now have very few doubts that what frightened Blair into war with Iraq was none of the things we suspected at the time, but an economic foreshadowing of the situation we find ourselves in now. I believe that this government, like Blair's before it, are engaged in military Keynesianism.
Dec. 8th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
Linking to this post to start in less than 5 days. I haven't even put the burning martyr tree up yet.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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