It’s For Electricity…Really!
Copyright © by Len Holman, 12/11/10
The recent release of about a zillion diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks has embarrassed just about everyone—well, everyone except the 3 million “special” people had who access to the stuff while the American public didn’t know what the hell was going on behind the scenes. As it turns out, just about EVERYTHING was behind the scenes. One of the most surprising things was the news that the solidarity of the Arab World (is there such a thing?) is a myth, manufactured by the media and the Arabs themselves (they don’t want to look weak and divided to a VERY interested Tel Aviv). Arab leaders have been quoted as wanting the U.S. to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, to “cut off the head of the snake,” as one cable has the Saudi king saying. Maybe someday soon, Israel will take care of that for them, but in the meantime, more concern was raised by the Iranian announcement that they are “self sufficient” in nuclear fuel, producing the yellow cake plutonium of the kind that eventually played a part in blowing Valerie Plame’s CIA cover. The Iranians insist, as they have all along, that any nuclear plants they have will produce electricity and nothing more. No one believes them and thus, a conundrum: to continue ineffective sanctions which hurt mostly the average Iranian, or turn Iran into a glassy, glowing parking lot.
This last option seems to be a rising possibility to those here in this country who want to exert American power worldwide, making the globe safe for crazies and Sarah Palin, but it does present some problems which must be overcome to be successful. First of all, the Iranian leadership—which at this point is a puzzle to most observers except the Special Ops guys already sneaking around inside Iranian borders—has already figured out that they are not on anyone’s Christmas list, and so have buried many of their facilities a good distance beneath the surface. We—the good guys—don’t even know how many nuclear plants there actually are. We could ask Mossad, but the Israelis are notoriously reluctant to give up good intel to outsiders—which is everyone who is not an Israeli. So we make what the military euphemistically calls “contingency plans.” These are plans which are readied “just in case” we send our bombers over Iran; just in case we give the OK to Israel to do the same; just in case we decide to use our massive reserve of air power to turn Iran into a huge irradiated light visible from the Crab nebula. That airpower has been used extensively over the years and is credited with ending wars and preserving democracy, eve n though the residents of Dresden may beg to differ, not to mention the folks sprayed with Agent Orange and carpet-bombed into becoming one united nation with a really bad traffic problem. Either we believe, as John McCain has said, that bombing Iran is only the second-worst option (the first would be to allow Iran to get The Bomb), or we “engage” Iran to lower the tension. This word “engagement” nowadays carries the same stigma as “appeasement” did in 1938, at least to conservatives. So bombing it is. We have bunker buster bombs to attack buried, hardened sites, and we have enough planes and missiles to do the job. The question is: should we? The second question is: will we?
If Iran is bombed, as Israel did in Iraq and in Syria, what will happen? Maybe nothing much. All Arab nations will breathe a sigh of relief, Israel can get on with all its other existential problems, Iran’s democracy will flower and Iranian children will soon be wearing Wranglers, eating too much fatty food, and surfing all the viral videos on YouTube. Or maybe all hell will break loose. Maybe we won’t get EVERY single site the Iranians have. Maybe a few left-over missiles will find their way to Israel, carrying—if not nukes—biological or chemical death. Maybe a war to extinction in that region will follow, killing hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—of civilians. Maybe the predicted, dreaded, future climate disaster will come early that year due to the screwed-up atmosphere which will be produced by such a cataclysm. There seems to be no good options. Sanctions don’t seem to work, and bombing is a huge, dangerous, potentially civilization-ending risk. Or maybe we should all just believe Iran. The nuclear plants are for electricity. We take them at their word and announce to the world we are sending electricians (they’ll be there sometime between 6 and 4), pole-climbing guys and other tech experts to set up an electric grid to help our Persian friends. They want nuclear-powered electricity? Fine. We help them. This puts them in a bit of a box. If they refuse, the whole world knows they were just kidding and are really dangerous and need chastising with stealth bombers. But what if they refuse our help? What if they remain staunchly isolationist and unrepentant? Doesn’t this put us back to square one, with the same old problem? Not at all. We now have the anecdotal evidence we, and the world—especially China and Russia—need to invite Israel to join us in chastising Zarathustra’s kin. This worked well in Vietnam, Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where bombing has resulted in the flowering of democratic ideals, stable governments, and loss of influence from evil outsiders. It could be—and this is just a suggestion—that bombing IS the key to ending Iranian influence in the region. It just depends on what kind of bombs we drop.
Instead of explosives, we should consider the insinuation of American pop consumer culture as a weapon instead, which it is. We don’t drop bombs, we drop iPads. We drop Chocodiles and pink backpacks with Justin Beber’s photo on them. We bomb Iranian culture with movies and TV shows like “Survivor” and “Dancing With the Stars.” We drop everything America stands for on them, everything crass, ill-made, flashy, shallow and thoughtless—and that certainly includes tapes of our political campaigns, as comic relief. We have the most corrosive and dominating culture in human history since homo sapiens took over from Neanderthals, and any traveler outside our borders knows this. When you can have a Big Mac in China, and have wine with your Burger King fries in France, that’s a sure sign we are winning the war—whatever war we happen to be fighting. The generals are no doubt correct: we can’t do much militarily with perhaps catastrophic consequences, but we CAN bury the Iranians in schlock, in consumer goods which blink and buzz and show dirty pictures. We CAN air-drop our cultural detritus on Iran and sit back to watch it spread like the plague in a sci-fi movie over them. Soon the leaders of Iran’s thugocracy will be up to their minarets in their citizens’ consumer lust. But here’s the clincher, the Hiroshima of it all: we stop and wait. Once the consuming lust for our goods takes hold, they’ll be rioting in the streets if Iranian women can’t get lotion that unwrinkles skin or Iranian men can’t find any coloring to get the gray out of those lush beards, there will be blood. Iran will be awash in stuff they don’t really need, but have been conned into thinking they want, just like us. So the war will basically be over, and we won’t have nuclear fallout to worry about, just mounds of plastic burger boxes and small puddles of latte. It’s not clear which would be worse.
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