Three years ago my then 5-year old son learned a valuable lesson about life which he still vividly remembers to this day. On a hot summer afternoon, he along with a couple of other boys came upon a hornet's nest hidden inside the hedges lining the perimeter of our residential neighborhood. Not long after poking and hitting it with wooden sticks, the boys were attacked by a swarm of angry hornets that chased and stung them in multiple places. After tending to his injuries and calming him down with some antihistamines, we spent the rest of that evening talking about respect for other species.
One could argue that the positive outcome of that awful incident was that the boys gained some valuable lesson and are much wiser for it. But after listening to Mr. Bush's 'State of the Union' address last night, I'm not sure the same can be said about our commander-in-chief.
In a speech reminiscent of the one delivered in January 2003 when he portrayed Iraq as the most imminent threat to the security of the United States, Mr. Bush named Iran no less than 5 times as the new “determined enemy”:
“In recent times, it has become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran” … “so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.”
But this time around facing a different Congress skeptical of his intentions and opposing his strategy of escalation, he delivered a warning of dire consequences brought on by Iran and Al Qaeda, painting the two with the same brush much in the same manner done with Iraq in 2003:
“If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.”
Using the same dubious tactics, invoking the memory of 911 attacks as justification to push the United States deeper into what is already being described as an abyss by the UN, Mr. Bush warned his skeptics:
“For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. “
The fact is that the nightmare scenario Mr. Bush is describing has already occurred thanks to the deceptive and misguided act of invading a sovereign country which did not pose a threat to United States. Unfortunately this time around, he appears to be poking his stick in a hornet's nest far larger than Iraq.
That, Mr. Bush, is ignoring the lessons of a tragedy.
Daniel M Pourkesali is a member of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. This article was originally published in CampaignIran.org.