Monday, August 6, 2007

Of Arms and the Man

Thanks more to the military’s protestations than to popular opinion, and no thanks at all to the Democrats, it is looking less likely that Cheney and Bush, even if they are not impeached , will end their tenure with the war on Iran that they and their neo-con advisors plainly want. This is at least partly why they’ve fallen back on Plan B. Plan B has been a familiar resort, at least since the Carter administration, whenever the Democrats’ and Republicans’ paymasters feel the urge for a (financial) surge of their own. The idea is to sell zillions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the other potentates of the Gulf – allegedly, in this instance, to counter Iran. The Saudis don’t need the weapons, can’t use them, and wouldn’t use them if they could, because they, like their counterparts elsewhere in the Gulf, fear their own armies more than they fear any external enemy. But, in the eyes of our leaders, it’s a winning strategy nonetheless. Sure, it is likely to unleash a new arms race in the Middle East, but it also feeds “our” friends’ vanity and our capitalists’ coffers, so why not go for it – recklessness be damned!

This time, as in the past when ancestor Plan Bs have come around, there’s a little, but otherwise insurmountable, problem that must be addressed – the Israel lobby might object. There’s a time worn remedy for this too, however: give – the word is apt! -- Israel more. This time is no exception. Where are the Democrats on this? A few of the more “progressive” ones, like New York Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner, are out front pointing out the folly of selling weapons to the Saudis. But neither they nor any Democrat has yet to oppose the countermeasure – the gift to the Israeli military. Certainly none of the Democratic candidates, except Kucinich and Gravel, would dare do anything of the sort. Obama was once comparatively free from the thrall of the Israel lobby but, for as long as he has been on the national state, he has been running away from that part of his past with all deliberate speed. Clinton is hopeless, of course; and so are all the Congressional leaders.

What about John Edwards? So far in this campaign, his main failing has been to acquiesce to the Israel lobby’s demand that military action against Iran not be ruled out – should Iran develop a nuclear deterrent such as Israel has had for the past forty years. This may be wise politically, for the moment. But it is also evidence of the cowardice that ties even this “populist” to the Democratic Party, the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity.

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