A War of Self-Destruction
Posted on Aug 4, 2008
By Chris Hedges
on Iran, which Israeli and
Bush administration officials appear set to carry out if Iranian uranium
enrichment is not halted, would ignite a regional war in the Middle East and
lead to economic collapse and political upheaval in the United States.
"In short and simple
terms, we would be plunged into a depression that would make the Great
Depression of the 1930s in which I spent my childhood look like boom
times," said William R. Polk, former professor of history at the
University of Chicago and a member of the Policy Planning Council under
President Kennedy. "Industries would fail, banks
would collapse, government revenues would dry up, universities would have to
close, health care, even as limited as it now is for roughly 75 million
Americans, would virtually cease. In short, something like [what] the South
suffered at the end of the Civil War would plague the country."
The passage of vast amounts
of oil and liquefied gas through the Persian Gulf
would be disrupted. Iranian attacks, carried out with
rocket- and bomb-equipped
speedboats and submarines, would be deadly and effective. A classified Pentagon
war game in 2002 simulated these swarming attacks by Iranian speedboats packed
with explosives in the gulf; the Navy lost 16 major warships, according to a
report in The New York Times. Iranian oil, which makes up 8 percent of the
world's energy supply, would instantly be taken off the market. And oil would
jump to over $500 a barrel and perhaps, as the conflict dragged on, to over
$750 a barrel. Our petroleum-based economy would come to a halt.
Israel would be hit by Iranian
Shahab-3 ballistic missiles.
Hezbollah, with its new
store of Iranian-supplied rockets that allegedly can reach any part of Israel, including Israel's nuclear plant at Dimona, would enter the conflict. Israel would
Terrorist attacks on U.S. targets
would become frequent. U.S.
casualties in Iraq would mount as the Iranians rained missiles
down on U.S.
bases and installations, including our imperial city, the Green Zone. Chaos and
mayhem would grip the Middle East. The world
financial markets would go haywire.
"Even at today's price,
as you know, 14 airlines have gone out of business while others are hovering on
the brink of bankruptcy and most have curtailed service and laid off
personnel," said Polk, one of the country's leading scholars of the Arab
world. "At double or triple today's price, none could fly unless
nationalized. A whole range of other industries would be quickly drawn into the
Ironically, war would push America into a
form of socialist economy."
The U.S. economy is
already tottering. We recently witnessed the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history,
and there are fears that as many as 150 banks could fail over the next 12 to 18
There will be 6.5 million
foreclosures over the next five years, according to Wall Street analysts. The
government is furiously pumping billions of taxpayer dollars into private
corporations to keep them afloat. The Congress bailed out the shareholders of
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These bizarre "government-sponsored
enterprises" own or guarantee half the mortgages in the country—some
The Federal Reserve evoked rarely used emergency powers to put billions of
taxpayer dollars at risk to stop the meltdown of a non-bank, Bear Stearns,
which it never regulated. More than $300 billion has been written down so far.
Losses, by the time we are done, could exceed $1 trillion.
The already staggering debt
generated by the war in Iraq
would mushroom with an attack on Iran. Fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan
we would soon be struggling to pay off a debt of at least two or three times
the present amount. This is a weight the U.S.
economy cannot bear, especially as
the dollar tumbles against the euro and other major currencies. The government
has borrowed abroad roughly a quarter of our annual national income in order to
pay for the Iraq
debacle. We have been told for the first time by a sovereign fund (South
Korean, one of the world's largest) that it will no
longer buy U.S. Treasury bonds. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz
estimates that the final cost of the war in Iraq, once all the hidden costs are
added up, could be as high as $7 trillion.
is crashing," wrote independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
"So the lights are on late in Washington's
Federal Reserve, SEC and Treasury Department trying to figure out how socialism
(your tax dollars and credits) can once again bail out these big-time gamblers
with our money. ... Reckless, self-enriching capitalists get on your knees and
thank the rescuing Washington
socialists, for without them, you would surely be in chains."
A war with Iran would also
have grave political consequences. The specter of millions of Americans driven
out of their homes, no longer able to afford basic necessities, out of work and
enraged, would, as it has throughout history, embolden messianic right-wing and
proto-fascist movements. Given the potential for social unrest, basic freedoms
would be curtailed and in some cases abolished in the name of order and
national security. The radical fringes of the Christian right could rise up
with a vengeance. They would happily ally themselves with an assortment of
oddballs, lunatics and corporate behemoths from Blackwater
mercenaries to frightened capitalists at Halliburton. It was economic collapse,
along with a climate of fear and instability, that was used to build the
fascist and communist movements that plagued Germany,
Italy and the Soviet Union during the last century. These same forces
led to the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. We are not immune to
But maybe those who advocate
a war with Iran
know all this. Maybe this is what they want. Maybe they understand that a war
would finally kill off our weakened and anemic democracy. Maybe they see this
as the dawn of a new era, an era when the last impediments to a global
totalitarian capitalism can finally be removed and we can all be ground under
the corporate jack boot, from Shanghai to New Delhi to Ohio.
There are huge corporations that make obscene profits from human misery. They
run our health care industry. They run our oil and gas companies. They run our
bloated weapons industry. They run Wall Street and the major investment firms.
They run our manufacturing firms. They also, ominously, run our government.