TomDispatch.com: A Regular Antidote to the Mainstream Media
November 4, 2012
Tomgram: Jeremiah Goulka, The Urge to Bomb Iran
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: The latest Dispatch Books volume, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare, is now available at Amazon for those who buy there and can also be purchased directly at the website of our independent political publisher, Haymarket Books. In addition, for those in the mood to help this site stay afloat, a signed, personalized copy of his book is available for a contribution of $75 (or more) via our donation page (as are various books of mine and the last pre-signed copies of Noam Chomsky’s Hopes and Prospects). Tom]
The Obama administration has engaged in a staggering military build-up in the Persian Gulf and at U.S. and allied bases around Iran (not to speak of in the air over that country and in cyberspace). Massive as it is, however, it hasn’t gotten much coverage lately. Perhaps, after all the alarms and warnings about possible Israeli or U.S. military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities this election season, it’s become so much the norm that it doesn’t even seem like news anymore. Still, two recent stories should jog our memories.
Barely a week ago, the commander of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. John C. Stennis was temporarily replaced and called home to face an investigation into "inappropriate leadership judgment." What this means is unclear, but it happened while the Stennis and its attending strike group including destroyers, guided missile cruisers, and other ships, were deployed in the Persian Gulf. We forget just what an “aircraft carrier” really is. It’s essentially a floating U.S. airbase and small town with a crew of about 5,000. As it happens, the Stennis was sent back to the Persian Gulf four months early to join the U.S.S. Eisenhower, because Washington wanted two such strike groups in the area. Even if there were no other build-up, this would be impressive enough.
At about the same time, what might be thought of as the creepy story of that week surfaced. Behind the scenes, reported the Guardian, the British government had rejected Obama administration requests for access to some of its bases as part of preparations for a possible war with Iran. (“The Guardian has been told that U.S. diplomats have also lobbied for the use of British bases in Cyprus, and for permission to fly from U.S. bases on Ascension Island in the Atlantic and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, both of which are British territories.”) The rejection -- “the government does not think military action is the right course at this point of time” -- was not, of course, the creepy part of the story. For some strange reason, British officials don’t feel that war is the optimal approach to Iran and, stranger yet, don’t want to be dragged into a potential regional conflagration. The creepy part of the story was the