Scary stuff, Jan. 23, 2006

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2006

My new favorite columnist, Paul Craig Roberts, has knocked one out of the park with his latest about alleged plans by Israel, through the U.S., to bomb or invade Iran over its efforts to produce nuclear power, ostensibly for power plants.

Roberts, while probably the most vehement pundit critic of the Bush administration, is, like me, not a wild-eyed liberal, blame America First Bush hater,

but a conservative who believes our philosophy and ideals have been hijacked by special interests and people who are downright insane and who threaten to destroy our country.

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As for his bonafidees, Roberts is an economist who served in Ronald Reagan’s treasury department. He’s also a former editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, not exactly a bastion of liberal thought.

Roberts’ problem with the Bush administration is that it is trampling civil liberties (something conservatives like us have traditionally cherished), that it is spending us into oblivion (most conservatives like us are more inclined toward a smaller, leaner federal government: even if you are spending on corporate welfare and the military instead of poor people welfare and education, it’s still spending); and our position in the world.

Here’s his latest (be warned, it’s pretty scary stuff).

Just How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

Cheney’s War Workshop Plots Another Attack


2006 is a dangerous year for Americans. The Bill of Rights and Americans’ civil liberties are being sacrificed on the alter of unaccountable executive power, as is the separation of powers, the foundation of our constitutional system.

The Supreme Court is being packed with a majority that favors more expansive executive rule.

The economy is in danger as the real estate boom unwinds and reduces the asset base of consumer demand.

Political money scandals and evidence of Republican vote fraud in the 2004 presidential election threaten to undermine confidence in American democracy, which President Bush is committed to export by force of arms to the world.

The Republican plan for amnesty for millions of illegal aliens looms as the final blow to US borders and the concept of US citizenship.

Perhaps the greatest threat of all is Israel’s determination to attack Iran, either directly or indirectly through its surrogate, the Bush administration.

We are witnessing the same drumbeat against Iranian WMD as we witnessed in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Fox &uot;News,&uot; which in fact is the most thorough-going dispenser of war propaganda since the Nazi Third Reich, provides a parade of bought-and-paid-for-consultants who assure credulous audiences that Osama bin Laden has forged an alliance with Iran, which will soon be providing al Qaeda with nuclear weapons.

Even the Bush administration’s chief warmonger, VP Dick Cheney, found the Fox &uot;News&uot; charges too absurd to be useful propaganda. Cheney disavowed close relations between al Qaeda Sunnis and Iranian Shi’ites: &uot;there’s not a natural fit there.&uot;

The New York Times, prostituted itself by permitting Judith Miller to use the newspaper as a tool for neoconservative war propaganda against Iraq. The Times prostituted itself a second time by withholding for an entire year the information that President Bush was illegally spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and a third time by not reporting Al Gore’s challenge to the Bush administration’s criminal behavior. Now the Times is prostituting itself a fourth time in serving as a Bush administration propaganda organ against Iran.

Unlike Israel, which does have nuclear weapons, Iran is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Under the treaty countries are permitted nuclear energy. Inspections make certain no weapons are produced. Iran agrees to abide by the treaty and to have the inspections.

Israel, however, and its neocon allies in the Bush administration, claim without any evidence that Iran is making a bomb. The nuclear inspectors find no evidence of a weapons program. Israel and its neocon allies reply that once Iran has the know-how for nuclear power, it will be able to make the material from which to make a bomb, therefore, Iran must not be permitted its rights under the non-proliferation treaty. Since Iran refuses to give up its treaty rights to develop nuclear energy, Israel and the neocons maintain that Iran’s facilities must be bombed and destroyed.

Americans will pay a heavy price for Israeli paranoia.

The entire world knows that Israel cannot bomb Iran without US weapons and cooperation.

A US attack on Iran would be another instance of naked American aggression against a Muslim country. Aggression is a war crime under the Nuremberg standard established by the US. Such an attack would further isolate the US as a rogue country. It would further inflame the Muslim world against the US and Israel, making any settlement of the Palestinian issue emotionally impossible for Muslims.

If tactical nuclear weapons are used in the bombing of Iran, as the neoconservatives advocate, America will be reviled throughout the world. Americans will never recover from the burden of shame and war crimes inflicted upon them by the Bush administration.

An attack on Iran could be the death knell for our troops in Iraq and for our puppets in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The majority Iraqi Shi’ites have tolerated the US occupation because the majority Shi’ites are the gainers from the US insistence on majority rule. The Iraqi Shi’ites are allied with Shi’ite Iran. They will recognize an attack on Iran as a blow struck against Shi’ite power. If the Iraqi Shi’ites turn on our troops, US casualties will soar.

The best way to ensure US defeat in Iraq is to attack Iran.

Would Bush and the neocons accept embarrassing defeat or would they escalate the conflict?

Would a sane government pursue a policy that has no favorable outcome?

Some analysts believe that Russia and China will protect their Iranian energy and trade agreements by vetoing UN sanctions that the Bush administration seeks as a pretext for its aggression. These two powers, however, might abstain as it is in their interest to let Bush dig a deeper hole for the US. Disruption of Iranian oil supplies increases Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and serves to further weaken US influence in Europe.

The American people need to understand that with its massive budget and trade deficits, the US is able to go to war only because the Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, and oil producing countries finance Bush’s war by purchasing US debt and holding dollar denominated assets. Once Bush has the US over-extended, it will be the end of the American superpower if one of our bankers decides to rein in the rogue American state by dumping dollar holdings.

Indeed, a number of thinkers (William Clark and Krassimir Petrov, for example) have concluded that the reason that the Pentagon has plans to attack Iran is Iran’s intention to establish an international oil exchange in which anyone can buy or sell oil in any currency.

Such an exchange, it is argued, would spell the dollar’s death as the currency in which oil is billed. With countries no longer needing dollars in order to pay their oil bills, the demand for dollars and dollar denominated assets would decline. The dollar would further depreciate, bringing crisis to import-dependent America.

As Bush’s ill-fated adventure in Iraq has proved, the US is not the superpower it believed itself to be. If the US wishes to retain a leadership position, it must abruptly change course. The massive budget and trade deficits must be immediately curtailed before the currency is destroyed, and the US must pursue peace instead of war in the Middle East.

The US breeds terrorism by its 60-year old policy of interfering in the internal affairs of Muslim lands and ruling them through surrogates. The US assaults Muslim sensitivities with the export of &uot;American culture,&uot; a euphemism for sexual promiscuity. The US creates enormous animosity by appearing to exploit Muslim oil wealth and by turning a blind eye while Israel expropriates the West Bank.

Doesn’t it make more sense to mend our ill-considered ways than to go to war against Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and who else? Is there no one in the Republican or Democratic parties who is capable of intelligent leadership? How many more Americans and Muslims are going to pay for Bush’s insane policy with their lives, arms, legs, and eyes? How stupid are the American people?

Paul Craig Roberts has held a number of academic appointments and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. His graduate economics education was at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at: