19 Sep 2009

Obama’s Missile Shield Move

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I wasn’t sure that I should even comment on Obama’s recent decision to scrap the Bush plans to place “defensive” missiles in Eastern Europe. (BTW, I actually don’t think it was “Obama’s decision” but I can’t tackle too many things in one blog post.) I probably couldn’t find Iran on an unmarked map of the world, and so I really have no business speculating on global thermonuclear war (besides pointing out the fact that no one wins, just like in tic-tac-toe). But now I’ve seen two blog posts that crystallize both sides of my ambivalence, and so I will at least share my agonizing with you, dear reader.

On the one hand, for those who don’t like the US empire, it’s obviously a good thing if the US government decides not to go ahead with an enhancement of its ability to wage war. Lew Rockwell sums up this view nicely.

On the other hand, I simply do not believe that Barack Obama is doing this–again, assume for the moment that the US president really enjoys the independence to do what he feels is “right for the country”–because he wants to reduce the power of the federal government. That flies in the face of all his other decisions thus far. The only way to make sense of Obama’s political moves is that he is seeking to enlarge the power of the Executive, just as all his predecessors (except maybe George Washington on a good day).

So what gives? Robert Wenzel has a hypothesis:

The recent [announcement] that the Obama Administration has canceled plans for a missile defense system in Central Europe is causing careful observers to sit up and think about the global ramifications.

Keep in mind what those who were paying attention knew back in March. Ewen MacAskill at the U.K. Guardian summed it up best back then. He wrote on March 3:

Russia today signalled that it is ready to accept a secret offer made by Barack Obama to drop US plans for a European missile defence system in return for Moscow’s help in dealing with Iran.

Friends say the help is going to be Russia just staying out of the picture when the bombs land on Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a clandestine trip to Russia this past Monday, September 10. This is the second sit up and take notice chess move signalling that serious non-public planning is in the works, that needs the cooperation of Russia.

Speculation by careful outside observers is now on what trip wire has been designed to justify the attack. Do the players think they have enough to go in now, or will some type of false flag operation be launched to bring the boobsie on board cheering at their television sets when the inevitable pics of smart bombs falling in Iran make it to network television.

I realize the incentives are a little lopsided on things like this: if I make an apparently outlandish prediction and am right, then I look like a genius, whereas if I’m wrong, then it won’t be a career ender, because my fans will just say, “Oh Bob was engaging in hyperbole.” So I will admit right now that this isn’t a formal prediction, and I won’t do a literal, “I told you so” if it happens.

Now that the preamble’s done, here goes: It would not surprise me in the least if Obama ends up using a (tactical) nuclear weapon against Iran. (I didn’t pull that out of the clear blue sky when throwing down the gauntlet that Andrew Sullivan foolishly picked up.) If you think that’s something only a warhawk Republican would do, you need to wake up. Woodrow Wilson dragged us into WW1, FDR into WW2, and Harry Truman is the only person in human history to use nuclear weapons against civilians. Lyndon Johnson gave orders that killed more than 185,000 civilians in North Vietnam.

In contrast, Richard Nixon, the ostensible free market warhawk, actually pulled US troops out of Vietnam, but also closed the gold window and enacted wage and price controls.

And let’s not forget that rabid laissez-faire guy George W. Bush, who allowed his Treasury secretary to acquire ownership in major banks.

If war breaks out with Iran–and by “war breaks out” of course I mean “the US military is ordered to start bombing”–then Obama is going to be under serious pressure to shut Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck up. If he uses a tactical nuke or two, even Joe Wilson might salute the Commander in Chief.

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