Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When I long for Barry Goldwater things are getting bad

This might appear to be ancient history to many readers but there was a time when this guy was considered to be a completely loose cannon.

During the 1964 US Presidential campaign, Barry Goldwater was held out as the one who, if he were elected, would thoughtlessly use nuclear weapons as a matter of absolute finality against any and all enemies.

Goldwater was a virulent anti-communist and openly supported Senator Joseph McCarthy's efforts to expose communism as a threat and supposed communists in government and beyond. When McCarthy was censured by Congress, Goldwater voted against the motion.

During the 1964 campaign Goldwater was painted as the ultimate nuclear hawk. There was a Democratic slogan going around then, referring to Goldwater's willingness to use nuclear weapons to bring the spread of communism to a halt, particularly in Asia, which read, "You know in your guts, he's nuts."

Goldwater had brought it on himself and everyone was reminded that it was he who said, "Let's lob one into the mens' room at the Kremlin." A reference to using nuclear weapons to end the superpower standoff.

Goldwater never became President of the United States so we will probably never know what he really had in mind. In subsequent interviews he vehemently denied he would have ever used nuclear weapons except in the direct defence of America.

Now the US has Bush. A moron. In possession of the Gold Codes: the daily nuclear launch codes.

As incomprehensible as it may seem, the possibility that George W Bush will become the first US President since Harry S Truman to authorize the use of nuclear weapons grows as Iraq sinks further and further into complete anarchy. Tristero presents a case that makes perfect sense.

Since late this spring, Seymour Hersh has been publishing article after article detailing behind the scenes plan for nuclear war with Iran. That's right, nuclear war with Iran. Sometime around April, there was a revolt among the US generals who insisted that the nuclear option be removed from discussions about military options re: Iran before they would agree to discuss them. Only after the generals went semi-public did the Administration back down and take the nuclear option out of discussion. Now if you believe Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld stopped jonesing - and planning - for the Big Bang on Iran, you're a fool. But ok, at least officially, active planning to hit Iran continued, but no nukes (wink, wink).

Recently, Hersh reported after the November election that as far as Cheney was concerned, the Bush administration will simply circumvent Congress if he, Cheney, deems it necessary to whack Iran or Syria. And believe me, he does so deem it necessary.
The Hersh article to which Tristero refers is here. The description Hersh provides of Cheney's calm willingness to ignore Congress is alarming.

If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way.
The problem here is the new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. He is a spook and much more inclined to want to start talks with Iran than get engaged in an open fight. Given his background, he is much more likely to oppose direct military action of any form against Iran.

Hersh provides an even clearer picture of what Bush/Cheney are planning with this:

The Administration’s planning for a military attack on Iran was made far more complicated earlier this fall by a highly classified draft assessment by the C.I.A. challenging the White House’s assumptions about how close Iran might be to building a nuclear bomb. The C.I.A. found no conclusive evidence, as yet, of a secret Iranian nuclear-weapons program running parallel to the civilian operations that Iran has declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency. (The C.I.A. declined to comment on this story.)

The C.I.A.’s analysis, which has been circulated to other agencies for comment, was based on technical intelligence collected by overhead satellites, and on other empirical evidence, such as measurements of the radioactivity of water samples and smoke plumes from factories and power plants. Additional data have been gathered, intelligence sources told me, by high-tech (and highly classified) radioactivity-detection devices that clandestine American and Israeli agents placed near suspected nuclear-weapons facilities inside Iran in the past year or so. No significant amounts of radioactivity were found.
That's the information. The reaction in the bunker is something different.

A current senior intelligence official confirmed the existence of the C.I.A. analysis, and told me that the White House had been hostile to it. The White House’s dismissal of the C.I.A. findings on Iran is widely known in the intelligence community. Cheney and his aides discounted the assessment, the former senior intelligence official said. “They’re not looking for a smoking gun,” the official added, referring to specific intelligence about Iranian nuclear planning. “They’re looking for the degree of comfort level they think they need to accomplish the mission.”
Something like not needing proof of weapons of mass destruction; just the belief that they could be there. And, then there's this:

The C.I.A. assessment warned the White House that it would be a mistake to conclude that the failure to find a secret nuclear-weapons program in Iran merely meant that the Iranians had done a good job of hiding it. The former senior intelligence official noted that at the height of the Cold War the Soviets were equally skilled at deception and misdirection, yet the American intelligence community was readily able to unravel the details of their long-range-missile and nuclear-weapons programs. But some in the White House, including in Cheney’s office, had made just such an assumption—that “the lack of evidence means they must have it,” the former official said. (Emphasis mine)
This isn't cherry-picking intelligence; this is re-interpreting it. Despite the confidence the CIA has in their assessment it continues to be dismissed by Cheney. Regardless of how much people believe Cheney's influence may have now diminished he still controls the mindless idiot occupying the oval office.

If Bush exercises the option of withdrawing US forces in Iraq to the Syrian and Iranian borders he will be able to announce that he is simply acquiesing to public opinion. That such a military maneouvre is intentionally provocative may be lost on some, but no country is going to sit idly by while an army is amassed on their doorstep. Tristerso finishes it off with, shall we say, a bang.

But here's the genius of it. If tensions rise maybe - say, if Iranians foolishly get alarmed that American troops are massing on the border after nine months of rumors of an American nuclear attack, and an Iranian sneezes a little too loudly - why how convenient! Before you can fake a bad Colonel Klink accent and mutter "blitzkrieg," kaboom! That's one small step for some troops, one more insane new war for a total moron and a horrified world.
And there it is. The idiot with the launch codes gives Dick the war he's itching for.

Kind of makes you nostalgic for Barry Goldwater, a man who believed in legalized abortion, supported the NAACP, didn't consider gays in the military to be a problem and supported equal rights for all. In 1994 he told the Washington Post:

When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.
It would have been interesting to hear Goldwater's assessment of the Bush administration. I think he would have been horrified.

Update: You really need to take a quick jump over to this link.

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