Apologies for my ridiculous pun, I just couldn’t help myself. Today’s post is a little exercise in history and maybe a bit of soothsaying. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that an attack on Iran is becoming inevitable. To hear the proclamations from Washington is to be eerily transported to the summer of 2002, when Bush was similarly ramping up his invective against the first target on his “Axis of Evil”: Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Given the hysteria that accompanied the Iranian president’s visit to New York this week, it struck me that it might be instructive if I found a better way to compare what is happening now with what happened in 2002. I immediately thought of Common Dreams, a) because their archives are so easily accessible and b) because the articles they selected were startlingly prescient about the inevitability and costs of the war at a time when the mainstream media were still parroting the administration line about war being a “last option” and being determined to use “diplomacy.” I figured why not take two months in 2002 and compare them with the most recent months of 2007? Replace “Iraq” with “Iran,” and just how inevitable (and more to the point, how soon) does our upcoming new war of aggression seem to be?
The results are below. A few caveats: for obvious reasons, it’s a bit harder to tease out the “Iran” articles in 2007, since the two theatres are so inextricably linked and articles will frequently discuss both. Since I couldn’t possibly read everything, I limited myself to those articles whose main focus was Iran, and not those about Iraq that might have mentioned Iranian involvement. So bear in mind that the actual number of articles that deal with our impending war are almost certainly higher than what I list here. Second, some of the predictions turned out to be wrong in interesting ways. Most notably, writers at the time seemed to believe that the Iraq war would begin sometime in November, in time for elections– no one I saw guessed that it would begin as late as it did. Also, I only referred to their “views”, i.e. the editorials, and not their news items.
If this sort of thing interests you, I encourage you to browse more through the Common Dreams archives yourself. And if you’d like to read the single best resource I’ve discovered online on the subject of our deadly march toward global war through Iran, I strongly encourage you to read Arthur Silber (start here, then follow his links at the bottom of the post for more).
If you just go by the “total counts” of articles predicting or dealing with the implications of imminent war, we seem to be at the equivalent of July 2002 (18 now versus 19 then). Of course this is a very silly way to predict a war, but just running with it: if the war actually began eight months from when these prophetic articles were printed, then that gives us until May.
But, as I said, it’s a silly way to predict a war. After all, the world, and American politics, are very different now than they were in 2002. It strikes me that the Bush administration acts with even less regard for the views of its supposed citizens than it did five years ago. The authoritarian regime has become more entrenched. Much more power is now in the hands of the executive. Congress has demonstrated time and time again that it is perfectly willing to go along with this program of apparent endless, “pre-emptive”, hegemonic war. I think we must always seriously consider the possibility that strikes on Iran could occur much sooner, and with far less popular support than those on Iraq.
COMMON DREAMS “VIEWS” ON THE IRAQ WAR
Total Count: 14
Juergen Todenhofer: We Can’t Simply Bomb a Just World Into Shape
Eric Margolis: Bush’s Mideast Vision is a Myopic Fantasy
Daniel Warner: Perpetual War Poses a Risk to US Power
Martin Woollacott: Marooned on His Fantasy Island, Bush Stands Firm
Stephen Zunes: Bush’s Speech A Setback for Peace
Ali Abunimah: Bush’s Speech – A Vision of Permanent War
Steve Chapman: No Reason Behind Iraq Attack
The Nation: War on Iraq Is Wrong
Scott Ritter: Behind ‘Plot’ on Hussein, a Secret Agenda
Gina Kim: Seattle Man Faces Fines, Prison After Taking Medicines to Iraq
William Galston: Why a First Strike Will Surely Backfire
Mark Morford: Just In Time To Kill Any Sense of Hope and Progress, It’s America’s New “Attack First” Policy
Mary McGrory: We Face Endless War Everywhere
Scott Laderman/Barry Riesch: Veterans Wage Peace in Iraq
Total Count: 19
Scott Ritter: What, If Anything, Does Iraq Have to Hide?
Marc Lynch: Iraq: Why Not Do Nothing?
Menzies Campbell: There Should Be No War in Iraq Without More Jaw-Jaw
Hubert Locke: Iraq Attack Inane, Dangerous
William Pfaff: Europe Can Overrule US on Iraq, Mideast
Linda O’Brien: We Have The Power To Say ‘No!’ Now
Richard Gwyn: Beleaguered Bush Dragging US Into Quagmire
John Lloyd: Hegemonic Rex: The U.S. Sees No Better Route to Stability Than Through Its Own Power. And That Makes It Tough for the Rest of Us
James Carroll: Questions on Bush’s War on Iraq
Salim Muwakkil: Taking on ‘Rogue’ States: Takes One to Know One
Eric Margolis: Saddam Fights Back! How the Iraqi Leader Might Reply to President George Bush’s Saber-Rattling
Scott Ritter: Is Iraq a True Threat to the US?
Rob Kall: It’s Easy To Tell When The Iraqi War Will Start…and Why
Hugo Young: We Need to Talk About the War on Iraq Before It Begins
Marjorie Cohn: Invading Iraq Would Be Misguided and Illegal
Felicity Arbuthnot: The Dangers of an Attack on Iraq: Jordan – Nuclear Flashpoint?
David Cortright: Stop the War Before it Starts
Simon Tisdall: Bush’s War is the New Great Game: But It Looks a Lot Less Fun When Bombs Fall From a Clear Night Sky
Five years pass…
Total Count: 6
John Nichols: Bush to Karzai: Will You Just Shut Up Abour Iran!
Stephen Zunes: The United States and “Regime Change” in Iran
Abbas Edalat/Mehrnaz Shahabi: Prospects of Armageddon: Logic of Past Atrocities Now Used To Support Iranian Strike
New York Times: Amateur Hour on Iran
Ray McGovern: Bush League War Drums Beating Louder on Iran
Bernie Sanders: Fox Attacks: Iran
SEPTEMBER 2007 (so far…)
Total Count: 18
Robert Naiman: Slam Dunk: The Bush Administration Is Trying to Provoke Iran
Ray McGovern: Do We Have the Courage to Stop War with Iran?
Marjorie Cohn: Bush Plans War on Iran
Howard Rodman: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bombing Iran
Chris Hedges: The Next Quagmire
David Bromwich: Iraq, Israel, Iran
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Prelude To War? World is Worried
Joyce Marcel: Don’t Let The Dogs Out! Don’t Bomb Iran!
Peter Galbraith: The Iranian Conundrum
Adrian Hamilton: The Eerie Familiarity of These Preparations For War
Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Bush, the Bomb and Iran
Juan Cole: Turning Ahmadinejad Into Public Enemy No. 1
Akbar Ganji: A Plea From the Iranian People
Marjorie Cohn: Pursue Diplomacy, Not War, With Iran
Ru Freeman: Ahmadinejad v. Bollinger: Words Were Spoken, But What Was Said?
Ari Berman: Senate Neocons Provoke Iran
Glenn Greenwald: The President’s Escalating War Rhetoric On Iran
Nathan Gonzalez: Five Reasons to Engage Iran