Monday, October 30, 2023

Israel’s Solution to Gaza: War on Iran

 Israel’s Solution to Gaza: War on Iran

Jim Kavanagh

Youssef Massoud |AFP via Getty Images

A US-Israeli war on Iran is very likely very soon. Here are four reasons why I say that:

1. A military attack on Iran has been an Israeli demand for at least fifteen years, in active preparation by the U.S. and Israel for at least six years, and was already ordered by the president.

Per the long 2019 New York Times article, The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran, “Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for” war on Iran. In 2008, Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, and Ehud Barak began to pressure U.S. President George W. Bush to join an attack on Iran, but he was “unequivocally against” it.

They ran into resistance again with the Obama administration, whose message, according to State Department official Wendy Sherman, was: “Please don’t go off on a hair trigger and start a war, because you’re going to want us to come in behind you,” Netanyahu thus saw Obama as “part of the problem, not the solution”—although maybe not then Vice President, “I am a Zionist” Joe Biden, who, in one meeting, “threw his arm around [Uzi] Arad [one of his former top advisers] and said with a smile, ‘Just remember that I am your best fucking friend here.’”

Israel had better luck with the Trump administration, especially after the ascension of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, who were themselves hot for attacking Iran. in June 2017, CIA Director Pompeo up a stand-alone Iran Mission Center, replacing previous Iran specialists with “a much more focused and belligerent group.” Its purpose—as of any Mission Center—was to “elevate” the country as a target. It was headed by Michael D’Andrea, a convert to Islam known as “the undertaker” and "Ayatollah Mike, who was  notorious for his “central role in the agency's torture and targeted killing programs,” and for having an “aggressive stance toward Iran.”

This was followed in December 2017, by the signing, in a “secret” meeting at the White House, of a pact with Israel “to take on Iran.” This This was a pact to coordinate “steps on the ground” against “Tehran and its proxies.” The Israelis considered these secret “dramatic understandings” to be of “far greater impact” on Israel than Trump’s more public recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Iran Mission Center is a war room. The pact with Israel is a war pact. Did you know about either of them?

Then, in June 2019, President Trump ordered a strike on Iran in retaliation for the downing of an American Global Hawk. With “forces…already in motion, …more than 10,000 sailors and airmen…on the move,” “ships readying missiles and airplanes already in the skies,” Trump abruptly called off the attack with 10 minutes to go.  Trump's reversal on that was a sign of his inconsistency and also the most radical "antiwar" presidential act since JFK refused air cover at the Bay of Pigs. It infuriated his neocon advisors and Republican senators.

That incident should not be forgotten. The world would have suffered a disaster of immense proportions but for Trump’s decision to rescind his order.

Yet, this incident has been all but forgotten, because it’s discomfiting to too many people on too many levels. It shows that latterly “antiwar” Republicans’ favorite POTUS and the USG have already made a decision to initiate an insanely dangerous war, and that deranged Democrats’ most hated POTUS made an extraordinary decision to avoid one. That both decisions were made by the same POTUS shows everybody how fragile our fates are in the hands of a single person of a species not entirely governed by rationality or the hobgoblin of consistency. But fear not: Joe Biden can be counted on not to rescind any strike order.

The point of all this is that a US-Israeli attack on Iran is not something that is just now being considered. It is something Israel and its acolytes in the US have wanted and that has been a planned project of US policy for many years.

And, to be clear, the push to attack Iran has nothing to do with fear of any imagined “nuclear weapons program,” which the JCPOA effectively constrained; it’s all about the fear of Iran’s steadily increasing conventional military power—its accurate long-range missiles, sophisticated drones, hypersonic anti-ship missiles, etc.—and of Iran’s success in helping disparate militias in the region form a more reciprocally-supportive and militarily effective axis of anti-Zionist resistance. These are assets and activities that Iran is never going to negotiate away, and Israel and the U.S. are determined to destroy.

2. Congress wants it:

"The animating force behind the evil in the region is Iran”

Add Lindsey Graham advocating to “bomb Iran even in the absence of direct evidence of their involvement” in the Hamas action of October 7th, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul “drawing up an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups in the region if the Gaza war escalates…[that] would apply to Iran as well.” 

Attacking Iran is something Israel is right now pressing American politicians to demand, and they are eager to comply. It’s important to understand that US politicians are eager to join in an Israeli attack on Iran (as they were to demolish other resistant regional states on Israel’s behalf) both because some of them see such an attack as furthering US imperial interests and because all of them see the defense of Zionism and its absolute hegemony in the region as a righteous cause. That’s an entrenched, self-aggrandizing ideology that Israel has adroitly used the Hamas action to inflame. They are burning with righteous anger. 

Adding that bipartisan political war fever to the ongoing neocon desire and planning for war with Iran makes for an opportunity for a victory that Zionists in the U.S. and Israel think they need, think they can have, and will be loath to pass up. 

3.   The U.S. is accumulating military forces in the Eastern Mediterranean for a conflict of much larger scale than a fight with Hamas or Hezbollah: 

Two American carrier strike groups, British warships and planes, A-10 ground-attack planes to the UAE, the 101st Airborne to Jordan, a massive arms airlift of arms and equipment to Israel and Cyprus using 80 U.S. military planes and dozens of leased civilian aircraft, fighter squadrons and special forces in Jordan, Patriot and other air defense missile systems, a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and more

THAAD is a system for intercepting ballistic missiles. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah has ballistic missiles; Iran does.

This level of U.S. military force is not being deployed to the region to make a “show,” to mediate, to keep the peace, or to deter war. The entire world sees and knows that the U.S. has just committed its military might to the “unconditional” support of Israel/Zionist colonialism against the Palestinians—not just for “defense” but for active support in any offensive action Israel takes, starting with the offense against the helpless people of Gaza. U.S. soldiers have already joined an Israeli squad in a military operation in Gaza, that was, according to Douglas Macgregor, “shot to pieces.”

The Biden administration, that is, already has us in another undeclared war, on behalf of a country it does not have a defense treaty with, against a people who pose no threat to it, and it will extend its participation however long it wants, without any vote of the Congress or the people. Forever. War. 

The U.S. military is not there to prevent a widening of the conflict but to support whatever widening of the conflict Israel wants to make—and, as we have seen, one of the wider actions it wants is to attack Iran. This U.S. military force will not be withdrawn until it has achieved whatever objective Israel sets for it.  Some American voices (and even some Israeli voices) may try to persuade the Israeli government not to widen the war to Iran, but the U.S. has committed all its forces to support Israel if it does. And it will. 

It is Israel that is explicitly “widening” the conflict every day (and has been for years), attacking Syria and Lebanon at will. Israel and the U.S. know that most of the world, and the entire Arab world, is furious at what’s happening. They know that American bases everywhere—in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, etc.—and sites within the U.S. itself will come under attack because the U.S. is blatantly and unconditionally siding with Israel against the Palestinians, and that attacks against Hezbollah and Syria will only make that worse. 

Is the U.S. asking the Israelis politely to “Pretty please, don’t be attacking on too many different fronts”?  It would like us to believe so, but I don’t know. I am certain that the US is saying “Whatever you do, we will come in behind you.” 

This is a Netanyahu government. Reat the above again: It wants an attack on Iran. Nothing that’s happened on October 7th or thereafter has made Israel want that less. It is absolutely confident that, in this context, the U.S. will not stop and will indeed go along with it, because, as Netanyahu has said many times: “America is a thing that can be easily moved, moved in the right direction. They won't get in the way” and  “We have the Senate, of the Congress, and a strong Jewish lobby on our side… America won’t force us into anything.” And he is right. 

The United States is not preventing Israel from widening the war. It could, but it’s not, and it won’t. 

Along with the Congress, the US military has eagerly adopted Israel’s “The animating force behind the evil in the region is Iran” framework, and thrown itself into exactly the situation Israel wants—one that’s inexorably leading to conflict with Iran.  

Thus, the U.S. military now says it will “hold Iran responsible,” for any attack on US forces by Iran proxies—i.e., any groups “that are supported by Iran.” In fact, the U.S. just carried out military strikes against two “facilities in eastern Syria ”—U.S. bases that have no right to be on Syrian territory—that are used by groups that Iran “backs” (i.e., has ever been friendly with). This demonstrates, by the way, that the U.S.’s undeclared war on Syria never ended (thanks to Trump’s ultimate weakness) and was always meant to be a threshold toward war on Iran. 

The USG knows that as long as the U.S.-backed Israeli aggression against Palestinians continues, these attacks on U.S. forces around the world are going to increase, and—perhaps with the aid of a particularly deadly “false flag”— will incite a demand for a decisive strike at the “responsible party.” 

Sounds to me like a conflict with Iran is unavoidable.

Also sounds like U.S. policy makers should—if only they were psychologically and intellectually able to—heed the words of Palestine’s UN Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour.

If anyone thinks this is a situation under control, for which you can plan and implement, they are making false and irresponsible assumptions. This is the kind of war where you know how it starts, and have no clue how it ends. 

Or the words of Iran's Foreign Minister:

I say frankly to the Americans, who are now managing the war in Gaza, that we do not want the expansion of war into the region. But if the genocide in Gaza continues, they [America] will not be spared from the fire. This is our home, and West Asia is our region. We do not compromise with any party or any side, and we have no reservation when it comes to our home security.

 If only. 

4.       Israel not only wants but needs it. 

I know, I know, it’s crazy. How could Israel want or need a conflict that it knows will bring enormous pain and damage to the country? 

Israel’s absolute, central priority is to preserve and nourish the Zionist project. It will do anything and take any risk to prevent the project of Zionist colonialism from being ended or permanently restricted—including burning the region and the world.  Thus, the Samson Option I talked about in my previous article, Netanyahu’s “prophecy of Isaiah,” et. al. A Jewish state that supports Al-Qaeda and ISIS is not a project that is entirely governed by rationality. 

Israel is now in a situation where it cannot win. Whatever destruction it rains on the people of Gaza and Palestine, the true face of Zionism as colonialism has been exposed in a way that will never be forgotten. Not by most of the people of the non-Western world and Europe, who already knew it, and, most fatally, not by the large swaths of young, progressive Jewish and Gentile Americans who were kinda-sorta aware of it intellectually, but now see its fundamentally cruel, supremacist, genocidal character on constant display. There will be no more PEP (Progressive Except Palestine) in the Western liberal step. 

Israel must now either agree to some restoration of Gaza under less than complete Israeli control and greater than previous international protection—which would be a defeat, and Israel therefore will not accept. Or Israel must try to complete the program of extermination and expulsion against the millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank it is now attempting, fight off whatever military resistance to that comes from Hezbollah, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, or any other world actor (not to mention the world’s political/diplomatic resistance), and establish full control of Gaza and the West Bank, with whatever Palestinian remnant remains. Even if it were possible, that, too, would be a defeat—a defeat of any pretense that there’s something virtuous or righteous about Zionism, something that makes it different from any other supremacist colonialism the world has seen. Israel would be a pariah state. 

What Israel cannot do is establish a stable Jewish-supremacist regime in which Jewish settlers can enjoy a comfortable life ruling over 6+ million subjugated Palestinian Arabs, without fear of deadly anti-colonial revolts. That’s what liberal Zionists wish(ed) could happen, and what clear-thinking Zionists like Netanyahu always knew was a delusion that would have to be abandoned, because at some point ’48 would have to be finished. 

As Garland Nixon put it, the Hamas attack on October 7th punched a hole below the waterline of Israel/Zionism. Israel and its sponsor, the U.S., can try to patch it up and slow the leak with various desperate military gambits, but nothing is going to stop the ship from sinking. 

It is also a(nother) hole below the waterline of American hegemony., With every day of hundreds of Palestinian children, doctors, journalists being blown up by U.S. bombs fired by Israelis, and every covering veto at the UN, the pressure from the sea of global outrage will intensify and threaten to sweep the United States from the helm of Middle East diplomacy that it has kept going nowhere for decades. 

Russia and China are already stepping up and saying the obvious, which can no longer be ignored: Without an assured, permanent political solution that is fair to all sides, there will be continuous violence, and it’s the American management and manipulation of the “peace process” in Israel’s favor that has prevented such a solution. 

These countries are threatening to take diplomatic center-stage from the U.S., and they now have the power to do so. It will become harder and harder to evade their diplomatic initiatives for a ceasefire in Gaza, and they are now the strongest and most credible advocates for immediate action to enact the internationally recognized “two-state” solution that the U.S. and Israel claim to support. 

As China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malik: “The only way out of the Palestinian question is to implement the two-state solution and ensure the Palestinian people's right to subsistence and statehood and their right to return to their homes.” 

Strong and loaded language from China. Of course, Israel, which via Netanyahu funded Hamas precisely in order to “thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state,” actually opposes and will never accept a two-state solution. That would permanently restrict Zionism to a miniature non-hegemonic enclave, which is at least as unacceptable to Israeli Zionists as the acceptance of any Jewish-supremacist colonialism is to Palestinian Arabs. And Israel will never, ever even discuss any “right” of Palestinians from Gaza or anywhere else to “return to their homes.” (I picture Wicked Beast of the East Netanyahu melting down on hearing those words from China.) Israel has always depended on the U.S. to manipulate any diplomatic process it controls to defer Palestinian statehood and forbid Palestinian return forever. 

But, thanks to Israel’s and the U.S.’s own actions, that game is suddenly and irrevocably changing. Russia and China are not Israel’s sponsors, and they are going to keep pressing on this. They will eventually propose an international conference of some kind to make to make a serious push for the two-state solution. That will quickly have the support of all the Arab states and most of the BRICS and the Global South (i.e., the world), and eventually some European states. The U.S. will not be able to prevent this, or to install itself as the official or de facto director. It will have to take a seat alongside everyone else. 

This will remove the Palestine question from the auspices of the U.S.—a disaster for Israel that it will never accept. It will also be an epochal shift of global diplomatic power from the U.S. to China and Russia—a demotion that the U.S. will never accept. 

But there is nothing Israel or the U.S. (given its unwillingness to contravene Israel) can do to stop this. 

Unless they stop everything.

To use another metaphor, Israel and the U.S. are in zugzwang, the chess situation where you must move, but any move you make worsens your position and leads inexorably to defeat. So, what’s the cornered political player to do? Turn over the table. Smash the whole game and attack your opponent(s) with outrageous kinetic force, moving the conflict onto a new terrain where you take greater immediate risk but render the old rules that blocked you from winning irrelevant. 

In this context, the thing that Israel and the U.S. can do, the thing that they want to do, the thing they have planned to do, the thing that they are putting all the military and other resources in place to do, is to start a war with Iran. 

It will upend the region and the whole world. There will be dramatic scenes of American ships and American facilities and Israeli and Iranian cities under attack, American and Israeli and Iranian soldiers and civilians dying. There will be constant concern about which other countries might enter the conflict. It will divert attention from the parsing of Israel’s relation to the Palestinians, the counting of casualties in Gaza, the specifics of a two-state solution, etc. It will divert attention from everything else, especially when Israel strikes Iran with nuclear weapons. 

You may think that’s crazy, because it is. Of course, there is enormous risk. Israel might lose everything. And of course, tens or hundreds of thousands or millions of people will be killed. But what else can they do? What else can change the game and the conversation entirely? What else offers—what else can Israel and the U.S. think offers—the possibility of defeating, Iran, the core of the axis of resistance, or at least setting it back for ten years? Creating a situation that gives Zionism ten or twenty more years to keep going is all Israel can ever hope for. And for it, and the United States, nothing is more important. The purpose is to save the Zionist enterprise and give it a future. 

Israel has been pressuring the U.S. for it for fifteen years. Israel and the U.S. have been planning for it for six years. The political and media class in Israel and the U.S. are all for it. The military apparatus is in place for it. Israel and the U.S. are sinking, and know they will never be stronger in relation to the anti-Zionist resistance than they are now.   

Right now, Israel and the United States need war on Iran, or something like it, to upend the table. And there is nothing like it. 


Related article: First and Foremost, Colonialism Must End

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