GOP Vice-Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on Wednesday called for unilateral US military action against Syria and Iran and blamed President Barack Obama for declining to send troops to Syria in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force. He also said that in addition to sanctioning Iran, “We should also be preparing our allies, and the world, for the reality that unfortunately, if all else fails, preventing a nuclear Iran may, tragically, require a military solution.”
So Rubio is campaigning for the vice president slot in the Republican Party by promising to embroil our country in two major Middle East wars, and moreover to do so without the backing of international law. But this step is precisely the mistake George W. Bush made in Iraq, and it meant that the US was mostly on its own in fighting, dying and paying for that war. Syria is 2/3s the size of Iraq, and Iran is 3 times more populous, so Rubio is committing us not only to bear more thousands of war dead and badly wounded but also to spend trillions in distant Middle Eastern deserts.
The US now has a two-party system in which one party is systematically pledged to make the US an international outlaw, with all the immense costs that entails.
Meanwhile, the chief instigator of war with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has clearly lost the fight inside the Israeli security establishment and even among his own colleagues.
First, Israeli deputy premier and minister of intelligence and atomic energy Dan Meridor gave an interview with Aljazeera English in which he admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the face of the map.’
I made the same point in 2005 and was raked over the coals by the late Christopher Hitchens and his Neoconservative friends, and by Likudniks (Meridor is a member of the Likud Party!). My dispute with Hitchens was instanced as a reason I shouldn’t be allowed to teach in the History Department at Yale University, and Likud apparatchik-posing-as-historian Michael Oren also attacked me at that time (he was a visitor at Yale and is now Israeli ambassador to Washington). Ethan Bronner at the New York Times did a hatchet piece on my stance, concluding with no evidence that Ahmadinejad had said the words, and he even implied that I don’t know the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb in Persian. I have been grossly insulted many times in the press and cyberspace, but I mind that one most of all. And the Likudniks complained that I was on Aljazeera or cited it.
So now the deputy premier of Israel, 7 years later, admits publicly that I was right all along, on Aljazeera.
Worse for Netanyahu and Rubio, Israel’s military chief of staff, Gen. Benny Gantz, came out and said that Iranian leaders are rational actors and that they have no current nuclear weapons program, not having decided to go for warheads.
And, of course, I’ve been saying these things for years and vilified for it, but this is the Israeli Army chief of staff speaking now.
It seems obvious to me that Meridor and Gantz are attempting to box in PM Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, whom the Israeli officers and intelligence chiefs consider insane or at least ‘absolutely stupid’ on the Iran issue. Meridor completely pulled the rug out from under Netanyahu, who has quoted ‘wipe off the face of the map’ till he was blue in the face.
What Gantz said echoes the position of US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and of US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey. Netanyahu leaked vicious attacks on Dempsey, a shameful act for a supposed ally. Gantz inevitably depends heavily on the US Pentagon, and appears to have thrown in with Panetta and Dempsey against Netanyahu, both because the Obama administration wants him to, and because Israeli military and intelligence leaders are aware that a strike on Iran would potentially unleash a maelstrom in the Middle East with which Israel may not be well-equipped to deal in the absence of US backing (and Obama has made it clear there won’t be US backing). In part, Gantz’s statement, which undercut Netanyahu, may have been Dempsey’s revenge.
I should underline that I think Iran is often a bad actor in the Middle East, and agree its nuclear enrichment program should be watched like a hawk. I like Israel and Israelis and think they’d be much better off if they’d give the Palestinians the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and stop rampaging around stealing territory and launching fruitless wars. I don’t mind having been slammed for my stances; at least I won’t go to my grave with no one having noticed I was here. But I do mind that my prediction was correct, that unindicted felon and traitor Richard Bruce Cheney (much more guilty than Bradley Manning) has managed to clone himself in the next generation, and that if the Republicans capture the White House we could be back to unilateral wars in the Middle East. Our country is now stuck in a game of Russian roulette, and people like Rubio are the bullet in the chamber.