In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, millions of ordinary people – not just lefties, but plain ordinary people of all ages, professions and class, many of whom had never taken part in any protest before – took to the streets in unprecedented numbers both in national capitals and in small country towns around the world to loudly protest the inevitable war.
It didn’t make a blind bit of difference; a western world predominately lead by right-wing governments determined to go to war regardless of what their peoples demanded, refused to listen and went to war anyway.
Western governments learnt their lesson however. In order to avoid a repetition of those massive worldwide rallies, wars in future will not be announced so blatantly. With Iraq, the world watched as the Western powers built up their forces, issued transparent ultimatums and then invaded. The world watched this happen over a long period of time as though it were following a prearranged and well publicised agenda. By August 2002 the world knew invasion was all but inevitable. An anti-war movement rapidly grew with demonstrations taking place on a regular basis around the world.
Despite warnings to the Australian government about the potential for bomb attacks on tourist areas in Bali, the Australian government decided not to issue any special warning to Australian travellers. As a result, on 12 October 2002, just a week after massive anti-war rallies in Europe and around the world, including Australia, two bombs exploded in the night club area of Kuta in Bali and some 202 people were killed including 88 Australians. If then Australian Prime Minister John Howard and his Foreign Minister Alexander Downer thought that by not warning Australians about the potential threat and the resultant deaths due to that decision would somehow swing Australian public opinion in favour of Australia’s participation in an attack against Iraq, then they were sorely mistaken. The following weekend, and for weeks after right up to the invasion of Iraq, saw some of the biggest rallies ever in Australia and around the world.
This time around, as the Western powers gear up for an attack on Iran, the prospect of great protests and rallies against such a war are remote. The reason for this is simple: The build up for war is not so visible. Whereas in the lead-up to the attack against Iraq the West fed the public a running commentary, albeit based on lies, on why they were about to attack Iraq, in this coming war there is no direct threat of war from the US. This time around the US is playing a different game. With Iran, the US are playing the good cop - bad cop game with Israel playing the bad cop and the US appearing to be conciliatory – but only if Iran is prepared to be.
The problem is; while the Israelis and the US are accusing Iran of exactly the same things they accused Iraq of, no one is actually threatening or planning to invade Iran. The hope this time is to bring about ‘regime change’ without invasion. The casus belli for attack is the single issue of Iran’s so-called nuclear weapons program which the Israelis and their Western allies accuse Iran of having despite the total lack of any evidence that Iran has such a program. While there are similarities between the rhetoric used today against Iran and the rhetoric used against Iraq, the main difference is in the perceptions of the threat of war. Whereas everyone just knew that Bush was determined to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein regardless of what Saddam did, the perception this time is of a President Obama who on the surface seems genuinely concerned to avoid attacking Iran and even looks as though he’s trying to restrain Israel from attacking Iran. While this perception prevails, there’s no need for the world to protest the possibility of another war. For some the perception is that Obama will actually prevent Israel from attacking. All of these perceptions have given the world a false though somewhat tenuous sense of security.
Just as the Bali bombings came at a time when public opinion was ranged against a looming war against Iraq, the recent bombings in Indonesia provides an opportunity for the governments of the Western world to remind all that the potential for Islamic violence is still very much alive as Israel ratchets up the rhetoric against Iran.
The reality, however, is far different from the perceptions and the world should take note before it is too late. The US has recently indicated that Israel must do what it needs to do to maintain what it thinks is its own security. This is just another way of saying that if Israel feels the need to attack Iran then the US would not stand in its way.
However, in order to attack Iran, Israel must contrary to the public perception that the US is trying to build, have help in some form or another from the US. Israel cannot possibly attack Iran completely independently of the US. If for nothing else, the huge amounts of military jet fuel needed for such a strike will have to come from the US, and most of the bunker-buster type munitions used will, in all likelihood, come from the US.
If Israel is permitted the use of Saudi airspace as has recently been reported, then the Israelis will not need to get permission from either the Iraqis or the US to use Iraqi airspace; they will only need to over-fly Saudi Arabia. Use of Saudi airspace in order to avoid using Iraqi airspace will be of paramount importance to the US if they are to maintain the perception of remaining ignorant of Israel planning a specific attack against Iran.
The world should ignore the perceptions; they are just as deceitful as the lies Bush told prior to the invasion of Iraq. An attack against Iran is as inevitable as the attack against Iraq was but this time we’ll get little or no warning of it. We’ll just wake up one morning to find that the world will have become an even more dangerous place to live in and the Global Economic Crisis will be the least of our worries.