David Broder's War
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 12:41 PM
David Broder's recent observations about our Peace Prize President created a stir. His controversial op-ed of Sunday, October 31st in the Washington Post is entitled "How Obama might recover". Broder postulates that Obama could choose the Iran war option from here until election day 2012. Actually, a variation on this theme is what Obama has been doing all along, ever since he found himself sitting inside the Oval Office, surrounded by some of the usual suspects of the bipartisan Washington establishment.
At this juncture in the proceedings--with the Tea Party sans-culottes in the ascendancy and the Republicans soon to be in control of Congress--the dean of the Washington press corps, Mr. Broder, is suggesting that Obama could confront Iran more aggressively, up to and including a full-scale war, to regain his mojo and to stimulate an indolent U.S. economy.
Here's how Broder reasons it: "With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambitions to become a nuclear power, he [Obama] can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve." Don't you just love that word, orchestrating--especially when it applies to starting a war?
As goofy as it sounds at first blush, this tactic has a solid Democratic track record of success, if you consider the FDR model in 1939-41 and, to a lesser extent, LBJ in the mid-1960's, when the latter decided to plunge headfirst into Vietnam. Broder's reasoning is based upon domestic politics, not upon foreign policy considerations--and certainly not upon morality, America, or humanity. In terms of foreign policy, the suggestion is wild and crazy. Morally, it is ignominious.
But in domestic politics, a further ramping up of the fake Iran crisis could be a home run. It has worked before. Based on circumstantial evidence and unclassified documents now available, it is well established that Franklin Roosevelt railroaded the United States into the Second World War via the Pearl Harbor attack. The reason was to save his failed presidency and to vanquish the lingering Great Depression. America was in no real danger from Japan or Germany. The authentic danger to America was from within, from Roosevelt himself and from his extended entourage.
The only item at issue is whether or not FDR personally knew that the Japanese Fleet was steaming toward Pearl Harbor, with the intent of bombing the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Either way, the Executive Branch failed to warn the commanders on the ground in Hawaii about what was coming over the horizon. Washington had broken the Japanese diplomatic code and England had broken the Japanese naval code. Hence, assuming Churchill was sharing his information with Roosevelt, Washington knew everything. Conclusion: Roosevelt and his inner circle let the attack happen as part of a grand strategy.
The Pearl Harbor attack was a direct consequence of FDR's own war-mongering policies, which were specifically designed to force Japan to fire the first shot. FDR wanted war in the worst way, and was moving heaven and earth in private to drag or trick his recalcitrant, anti-interventionist fellow countrymen into the bloodbath, while proclaiming just the opposite in public. Woodrow Wilson had done something similar prior to entering the Great War. His re-election campaign slogan for 1916 was "He kept us out of war!"
The day after the "surprise" attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR delivered the greatest speech ever delivered by an American President. The "day of infamy" oration to a joint session of Congress, on December 8th, 1941 was stupendous. The fact that it was also mendacious, hypocritical, and dishonest in the extreme is another matter--and not surprising.
Pearl Harbor was a godsend. It transformed FDR into a wartime President, a dictator for life. The Imperial Presidency was enthroned. Congress would henceforth be a nullity, or at best a gadfly, when it came to foreign affairs. The United States has lived under this unhealthy, unconstitutional circumstance ever since. The powers-that-be are pleased with the arrangement. It gives them more freedom of action and little or no accountability. And that is what Team Obama needs going forward, just like what Cheney-Bush had, looking backward. A patriotic extravaganza, a distraction, in which Barack Obama becomes once again a hero figure, the center of attention, reminiscent of the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008.
In sum, Broder's remarks have been misconstrued or misunderstood. Professor Stephen Walt of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy fame immediately posed the question, "What was David Broder smoking?" in his Foreign Policy blog. Walt condemned Broder's op-ed column as "ill informed and morally bankrupt". Meanwhile, FP's managing editor Blake Hounshell wondered, "Has David Broder lost his mind?" TM's own Patrick J. Buchanan termed Broder's analysis cynical in "Broder's Brainstorm".
Both Walt and Buchanan are dead right, when you apply their thinking to Obama's mischief-making Iran policy itself. Note, however, that this bi-partisan, bellicose policy toward Iran has been wholeheartedly embraced by both the Congress and the Press for years. It may be more appropriate for the experts to wonder, "What has Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, G.W. Bush and officials on Capitol Hill been smoking all these years?" and then, "Has Washington lost its mind?"
If Team Obama were to chose the war option with Iran, it would amount to a natural outgrowth of a well established policy endorsed by both political parties and inherited by Mr. Peace Prize. If a shooting war resulted under Obama, that war would be stupid and counter-productive just like Iraq, but it certainly should not take anyone by surprise who has been paying the slightest attention. The policy has been ill-informed, morally bankrupt and cynical from the start. Thanks to America's malfeasant leadership, we are already engaged in a de facto war with Iran for no legitimate reason. All of which begs the question, why?
The overall policy is predicated upon the fiction, voiced by Broder, that "Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century." Does Broder actually believe that absurdity? If so, he has allowed himself to be brainwashed. It only matters that this false premise--part of the "clash of civilizations" bilge--is being used as a justification for the most extravagant nonsense. The premise is generally accepted as true. It certainly is what Tel Aviv and its acolytes in the U.S. want everyone to believe, most especially a gullible American public that is sitting back, swallowing it, and paying for it. The agitprop of the Israel Lobby in this regard is relentless, brazen, and goes publicly unchallenged in official Washington.
The fact that Iran possesses no nuclear weapons and is not embarked on a nuclear weapons program matters no more than it mattered that Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction were nonexistent and a deliberate fabrication of American neocons working for Ariel Sharon and Likud. Iran's nuclear weapons and Iraq's WMD are cover stories, to mask a hidden agenda.
Our Peace Prize President and Bush Jr. and Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and John Boehner, et al., go along with the agenda, pretending that Iran is a serious threat because it is good, inside-the-beltway politics to do so. To act otherwise--to advocate that Iran not be embargoed, not be harassed and not be bombed--would be a big mistake. The livelihood and standing of the aforementioned individuals depends to a great extent upon the largesse, influence, good will and tolerance of the most powerful lobby in Washington. Why take a chance? The next election is always right around the corner.
And this is where Walt and Buchanan are slightly off target. Broder is a political junkie. He does not claim to be an expert on business or the economy. With this in mind, the Broder postulate is understandable and unremarkable. He is not advocating that Obama start a war to entrench and advance his own career, even though such a strategy worked like a charm for Roosevelt. Rather, Broder is stating the obvious. He has a habit of doing this. (I have written about Broder before. See «The Long Climbdown».) The warpath option against Iran is open and would be advantageous, based upon prevailing exigencies and attitudes in Washington. Simply stated, it will help Obama politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. Does anyone disagree? The Republicans will have been co-opted. Obama will have stolen their show.
This says more about the deplorable state of affairs inside Washington than it does about David Broder. And by the way, didn't something along these lines do the trick for co-Presidents G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney in 2004, even after it had become apparent that the predicate for their Iraq adventure was bogus? I recall that Senator John Kerry, who ran against the dubious duo in 2004, did not dare question the WMD fabrication and the hype surrounding it--or even express reservations about the wisdom of the Iraq invasion itself. How could he? His own Democrat party was in on the same vote-getting, campaign-funding scheme as the Republicans. Bush-Cheney co-opted the Democrats. More importantly, for Kerry to have voiced the truth about Iraq would have blown everybody's cover in the Washington establishment.
Ernest Hollings, upon announcing his retirement from the U.S. Senate, wrote pointedly about G.W. Bush in May 2004: "He came to office imbued with one thought--reelection. Bush felt...spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats. You don't come to town and announce your Israel policy is to invade Iraq." No, you don't. You wave the flag and sound the alarm. The next election is always around the corner. Can Samuel Johnson be wrong? He can't. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. In certain cases, it may even be the first choice. Why? Because it works.
--Copyright 2010 Patrick Foy--