I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Using Iraq as a military base

As I noted in the post below, London's Sunday Times is reporting today that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered full-scale preparations for a military attack on Iran's nuclear program to take place as early as this March. But there is one paragraph buried deep in the article that may contain the most significant information:

A “massive” Israeli intelligence operation has been underway since Iran was designated the “top priority for 2005”, according to security sources.

Cross-border operations and signal intelligence from a base established by the Israelis in northern Iraq are said to have identified a number of Iranian uranium enrichment sites unknown to the the IAEA.

Do the Israelis really have a military base in Northern Iraq? If so, it is sort of hard to dispute that this war has been a major benefit to the Israelis. That's hard to dispute even if they don't have such a base, but if they do, that certainly adds fuel to the "this-war-was-for-Israel's-benefit" fire.

The U.S. obviously has, and intends to have, military bases in Iraq as well. The U.S. needs military bases in the Middle East, and any such bases in Iraq are of great strategic value. Being able to maintain military bases smack dab in the middle of that vitally important region is a compelling (not dispositive, but compelling) rationale for the war. But it's one which pro-war advocates rarely cite, as they focus instead on the more magnanimous, manipulative and fuzzy claims about Iraqi liberation -- which is hardly a good reason to fight a war and was never the reason for fighting this war.

That omission underlies the real problem with how this war has been advocated. Its proponents were dishonest in selling the war and less than candid about the reasons why it was a war worth fighting. And they still are. There was a real discussion and debate to be had over whether an invasion of Iraq was a good idea -- even if Saddam was not on the precipice of becoming a nuclear power.

But leading pro-war advocates never wanted a substantive debate, opting instead for a highly manipulative marketing campaign to ensure that their pro-war view would prevail. That misleading approach worked to ensure that the invasion would occur, but it is also what has led to substantial public confusion, and subsequent distrust, over the ongoing rationale for our occupation.

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