Recently by Eric Margolis: Fury at the American Raj
Chinese and Japanese vessels prowl menacingly in the sea around the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands as Beijing and Tokyo exchange threats.
A few wrong moves could spark a clash between China and Japan that would likely draw in Tokyo’s ally, the United States, which, under a 1960 defense treaty, is bound to defend Japan if it is attacked.
Half way around the globe, powerful US naval forces are cruising the Gulf and Arabian Sea to intimidate Iran. A clash between US and Iranian naval units or aircraft in the Gulf seems increasingly likely as heated rhetoric on both sides increases.
Meanwhile, Israel’s rightist prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, keeps threatening to attack Iran, with or without US assistance.
No one can accuse him of being a flip-flopper like his ally and admirer, Mitt Romney.
Twenty years ago, in 1992, Netanyahu declared Iran would deploy nuclear weapons in 3-5 years. In 1995, Israeli officials warned Iran would have nuclear arms by 2000. In 1998, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned that Iran would have intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads by 2003 that could strike the United States. Netanyahu now insists Iran will have nukes within a year. US intelligence denies this claim. Even biased UN nuclear inspectors say Iran has no nukes.
Even so, hysteria and disinformation about Iran’s nuclear program continues without relent, intensifying war fever in America which is in the midst of election fever.
Last week, a secretly taped video emerged of candidate Romney talking to a $50,000 a plate lunch for pro-Israel supporters in Boca Raton, Florida. Romney told the audience he could not support a Palestinian state and would stall this burning issue indefinitely. Romney called Iran’s leaders “crazy.” Publicly, Romney advocated a two-state solution and creation of a Palestinian state.
Shortly before, Romney asserted at another private fundraiser that 47% of Americans paid no taxes, were freeloaders, and thus naturally supported President Barack Obama. Romney’s remark sparked outrage, coming from a multi-millionaire who never seems to have paid more than 15% taxes thanks to a shady scheme of converting corporate profits into lower-taxed dividends.
Too many Americans pay no taxes, it is true, and too many are on the dole, from 44 million people who use food stamps to America’s industrial farmers. But Romney’s comments were certain to be taken amiss, and they were.
While Romney was floundering, rightwing Republicans were on the war path after the killing of the US ambassador to Libya – which looked to this old Libya hand like payback for the US-assisted killing of Muammar Gadaffi.
Republican hawks demanded Obama “take action” and “get tough” with the troublesome Muslim world. Alas for those howling for revenge, the killers of the ambassador remained for now unidentified.
So what targets were left for the enraged Republican sofa samurais? Bomb Tripoli or Cairo? Bomb Mecca, as some far right crazies have long urged? Former president George W. Bush was a great one for “taking action.” The result: the disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq, the wrecking of America’s once vibrant economy, and over $1 trillion in debt to finance these lost wars.
Independent voters, who will probably decide the November election, are better educated and more worldly than the core Republican blue collar and Bible Belt voters. Many were aghast at Romney’s calls for more war, his painful ignorance of foreign affairs, and close identification with far right policies.
Barack Obama may have achieved very little in his foreign policy, but a President Romney looks like he might be a disaster – a sort of George W. Bush on steroids. In fact, Romney is surrounded by the same cast of far right, neoconservative nut cases that misled the foolish Bush into wars.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is lambasting Obama and getting away with it, backed by Republicans and neocons. The danger here is that Israel’s leader might conclude having tied Obama’s hands he can go ahead and use tactical nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s underground nuclear facilities.
The very idea of Israel or Iran attacking one another’s nuclear plants is madness. The result would be a global radioactive catastrophe, particularly so for the Gulf states. The world has so far ignored this danger.
By encouraging Israel’s far right to threaten Iran with war, Romney is being irresponsible and reckless. He is showing that he is not ready for the presidency, never mind global leadership. He could end up being as big a disaster for Israel as for the United States.
President Obama has been a profound disappointment to those who hoped he would end America’s militarized foreign policy and the Bush era’s violation of rights. However, the blundering, ill-educated Romney now makes Obama look wise and saintly.
Eric Margolis [send him mail] is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.