War Hawks are getting so desperate that they are using fear tactics in order to motivate constituents to support the war in Syria. Syria and Iran maybe allies, but Sen. Lindsay Graham’s analysis of their connection is simplistic and misguided. According to the senator, if the US does not intervene in Syria, Iran will not take the US seriously and will have a nuclear weapon by the end of 2014. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, such weapons will end up in the hands of terrorists. He ended his analysis by describing the fear-inducing-if-unrealistic situation of a nuclear bomb dropping on Charleston Harbor.
The graphic above is from nuclearsecrecy.com which projects a rough estimate of how devastating a nuclear attack would be in Charleston harbor.
At an invitation-only breakfast at Mount Pleasant this week, Graham offered his assessment of the Syria situation, saying that it will destabilize the entire Middle East, and that “if we get Syria wrong, within six months – and you can quote me on this – there will be a war between Iran and Israel over their nuclear program.”
He also said that any terrorist nuclear device “won’t come to America on top of a missile, it’ll come in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor.” The prospect of Iran acquiring a nuclear device is a legitimate threat, not a fear-mongering talking point to justify hasty foreign policy decisions.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are the two main powers in what could be seen as a regional Cold War (and indeed Russia and the US come down on opposite sides of the conflict). Both countries’ regimes are brutal, oppressive and fundamentalist, and both wish to become the dominant regional power. Syria is merely the current battleground. Iran supports Assad, while Saudi Arabia supports the rebel forces, which include Al Qaida and Chechen extremists.
As for Graham’s statement that Syria will destabilize the Middle East, that happened two years ago with the Arab Spring, which again was US-backed. Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, and even Pakistan, which had admittedly been ruled by brutal governments in the past, were plunged into revolution followed by extremist Islamic governments, though the majority of the populations haven’t supported them.
Indeed the best way to oppose Iranian acquisition of nuclear devices would have been to support the Iranian Green Revolution in 2009. Iran’s fundamentalist government is immensely unpopular amongst its younger generation, and is itself the product of a revolution which overthrew the more secular Shaw in the 1970s. Obama, however, failed to do that.
In a statement responding to Graham’s analysis, a high ranking military officer told blogger Joshua Cook, “Graham is going off the deep end with this rhetoric about nuke strikes in Charleston. What a crock.” He continued, “He has a deep insecurity complex due to many personal issues and that causes his attachment to John McCain and the attempts to appear like ‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ He really needs to go.”