George Bush’s speechwriter must have the easiest job in the administration. His boss hardly ever requires new material. Fighting in Iraq is keeping Al Qaeda out of the United States: the ‘surge’ is producing results: withdrawing US troops from Iraq anytime soon will be disastrous for both countries. These evergreens are repeated ad nauseum in every available forum. Sometimes I wonder if Bush gets as tired of making his stock speech as his listeners are of listening to it.
Bush’s other favorite whipping boy is Iran. Periodic warnings of dire consequences if Iran develops nuclear weapons is the other staple, of course, but last week, he added a new twist. Like some old prophet of doom, he warned his fellow Americans that not doing ‘something’ about Iran soon bears the imminent threat of setting off World War III. His flawed justification for this outrageous statement was that Iran’s kooky President had publicly threatened to destroy Israel – and Iran is on the brink of acquiring atomic bombs, which they will unleash on the US ( with presently non-existent ICBMs that it will magically possess). It is Washington’s worst-kept secret that the Bush Administration already has plans in place for carrying out a pre-emptive military strike against Iran. I can’t help wondering if the Commander-in-Chief is laying the groundwork for the attack.
In my opinion, this is scaremongering of the highest order. World War III: and the end of the world, wow! No one can top that for hyperbole. Could there be a grain of truth in it. Let us examine Bush’s ostensible reasoning.
First, the threat to destroy Israel. I don’t think anyone takes that seriously, least of all, Iran itself. It is typical rhetoric bombast spouted by zealots from time to time. I would place it in the same category as Osama Bin Laden’s recent exhortation to all Americans to convert to Islam. Iran’s leaders may be fundamentalist, but they are not suicidal. They are realists enough to realize that their country is simply no match for Israel militarily.
Let us now consider the so-called danger of imminent Armageddon. Acquiring nuclear weapons; and the capability to deliver them across the Atlantic Ocean – or even to Israel – is not like making instant coffee. It is a very long process. One simple fact will illustrate this. When I was living in Iran in the late 1970s, the Russians were building a nuclear reactor in Bushehr. Thirty years later, it is still far from completion. There is an enormous gap between running a few hundred centrifuges and amassing a stockpile of missile-deliverable nuclear bombs. Maybe Jenna Bush will have to deal with it when she becomes President, but certainly not George.
And forget about the United States, even Israel is so far ahead in nuclear technology and development, that Iran can never hope to catch up. As for those who worry about Iran supplying terrorists with a ‘dirty’ bomb, there are far greater chances of the bad guys acquiring it from Pakistan; which already has the bomb and more than its fair share of Al Qaeda sympathizers.
So what is George Bush up to? A charitable explanation would be that he has repeated his own rhetoric so often that the line between fantasy and reality has become blurred. Or maybe he wants to go down in history as the last great Crusader. The big consolation is that the majority of the American public tuned out Bush some time ago; and so they are content to let him live out the twilight of his Presidency with his delusions.