Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reading bird entrails in Iran

Using reason to try to figure out what the Bush regime is likely to do in Iran is about as reliable as trying to divine the future in bird entrails. This is after all a regime that proudly rejects the reality based approach to the world.

Nuking Iran would be "completely nuts," says British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Well yes, of course it would, but what does that really tell us about how likely Bush is to do it? Many things he has done--the Iraq war, ignoring the environmental crisis, failing to respond to New Orleans etc, etc.-- have been quite mad.

Of course we could try and predict what he might do based on narrow self interest, but even that is hard to judge given the indeterminacy of the time horizon and the terms in which he calculates self-interest. The long term future clearly just doesn't much matter to him. And nobody seems confident of what his real goals are.

Would he do it to expand the empire? To defeat "the new Hitler?" To fulfill some messianic vision? Seymour Hersh thinks so. Would he attack Iran simply to improve Republican chances in the next election? Paul Krugman thinks he might. Or is it more Machiavellian? Is he using talk of nuclear attacks to make the idea of conventional attacks more acceptable? Or does he share the apocalyptic fantasies of some of his followers? Or is it all just bluster and macho posturing?

If the past record of the administration is any guide, the one thing we do know for certain is that realistic assessments of the long term good of the country, much less the world, are not even a consideration.


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