Goldblog's Straw Man


My colleague writes the following sentence:

Since we all know that only Israelis and their neocon supporters in America seek a military attack on Iran's nuclear program, Bahrain must be under the control of neocons.

This is a preposterous distortion of the opposition to all-out war against Iran. It has been extremely well known and debated for years that the Sunni Arab autocracies fear and despise the idea of a Shiite or Iranian nuclear capacity as much as (if not more than) the Israelis do. Some of this is simply understandable fear of what mischief Iran could do with a nuclear umbrella; some of it is rooted in pretty vile anti-Shiite prejudice; much of it is about maintaining their own power and influence in the region. The idea that confirmation of this represents in any way anything new about the situation is silly. The most passionate rant I have ever heard on the subject in person was from the King of Jordan. In my recent post wondering why Israel refuses to budge on colonizing the West Bank, for example, I wrote:

Why would Netanyahu not be more willing to make concessions on illegal settlements, in order to bolster relations with the US and the Sunni Arab states that are crucial to Israel's strategy to isolate Iran and weaken Hezbollah and Hamas?

The question is whether another war by the US against a Muslim nation in an attempt to delay its development of a nuclear weapon (according to the same intelligence sources that insisted that Saddam Hussein was developing a nuclear weapon) is a prudent course of action. Of course the Sunni dictators would like to neuter Iran, while having someone else take the blame. They can easily deflect the anger and outrage of their own populations ... against the US and/or Israel. The question is whether it is in the interests of the US to launch what would become very swiftly a Third World War against a third Muslim nation in a decade in order to advance the short-term interests of a few Arab dictators and to preserve a nuclear monopoly for Israel?

Remember, by the way, when the neocons were all about not trusting or listening to the autocrats of the Arab world? It was all about a space for democracy then. Now that the argument about democracy seems to lead directly and urgently to a viable Palestinian state (a far more promising option for Arab democracy than Iraq), the neocons have fallen back in love with the Arab dictators. Funny how that happens, isn't it?

Their intellectual inconsistency is remarkable, unless you accept that their core view at any given time has very little to do with theories of democratization, and much more to do with whatever they believe is in the interests of the Israeli right at any given moment.

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