Though few of them reach the mainstream media, recent days and weeks have seen a veritable spate of warnings about an impending U.S. and/or Israeli attack on Iran.  --  On Saturday, Eric Herter titled his piece on the subject “The Edge of the Abyss,” apparently unaware that a week earlier in a talk to peace activists Scott Ritter used precisely the same metaphor to describe the present situation.  --  Herter, the grandson of a U.S. secretary of state (Christian Herter, 1959-1961) spelled out what might be at the bottom of the abyss by laying out a possible scenario that ends with the “U.S. government declar[ing] martial law and uses anti-terrorist laws and military force against those who protest” and the “U.S. Congress and press effectively do[ing] nothing.” ...


By Eric Herter

Common Dreams
February 3, 2007

In spite of strong public opposition to our course in the Middle East, there’s rapidly-mounting evidence that Bush intends to attack Iran.

Some may argue that his aggressive moves and rhetoric are a bluff to induce Ahmadinejad to back down. Not likely -- Iran’s President, like ours, is aggressive and stubborn. Also, even if Ahmadinejad unexpectedly renounces his nuclear project, new U.S. “findings” of Iranian complicity in the Iraq insurgency will give the administration justification for the war they want. We saw it happen in the lead-up to Iraq, and it’s happening again.

A friend wrote yesterday, “Latest news indicates that Bush is setting up new bases in Bulgaria and Romania that would host Pentagon war planes that would be used in a first-strike attack on Iran. […]

“But this is crazy, I hear you saying. The U.S. can't afford another war! The troops are stretched too thin, the country can't pay for another front in this blitzkrieg.

“Well, the answer is that like Hitler, Bush must continue to roll the dice. He is so far out on a limb now that he must go for it all or he loses everything. He and the big corporations, who are driving this empire, have got to make their move now, or it all comes crashing down around them. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If the U.S. controls all the Middle East oil then they control China, India, Europe, and the rest of the world. Insanity you say? Of course it is.” [Bruce Gagnon’s complete letter is at]

He’s right. With unsolvable problems in Iraq, growing Congressional opposition, a possible Cheney implication in the felony trial of Scooter Libby, and pressure growing for impeachment investigations, the time to move is now. Bush is moving. Stories about the dangers presented by Iran are pouring out of administration and Pentagon souces. A U.S. military official in the Gulf yesterday compared the current hair-trigger U.S.-Iran situation with Europe in 1914, on the brink of World War One.

For those who think a U.S. strike on Iran will be a cakewalk like the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, it’s important to know that there are grave differences. Here are some likely outcomes of attacking Iran:

Everyone in Iraq -- including the Shiite government and army we’ve been supporting -- attacks our forces there, aided by a well-armed Iranian army of 650,000;

Iran uses its Chinese and Russian missiles to hit our troops in Iraq, our ships in the Gulf, and Israel;

Syria, linked by a mutual-defense treaty to Iran, joins the war with large stocks of chemical and biological weapons;

The U.S. and Israel use nuclear weapons to prevent our forces in Iraq from being annihilated;

Huge numbers, possibly millions, are sickened and die as radiation is blown by prevailing winds into Pakistan and/or India;

The Pakistani government is overthrown by its Islamic generals, who start using their nuclear missiles on U.S. forces and Israel;

Oil supplies from the Middle East are sharply curtailed, pushing American gas prices up above $10 a gallon;

Worldwide outrage results in global boycotts of American products, plunging the U.S. economy into chaos;

The U.S. government declares martial law and uses anti-terrorist laws and military force against those who protest;

The U.S. Congress and press effectively do nothing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a worst-case scenario -- all of the above are entirely possible and predictable consequences of attacking Iran. And this war is not urgently necessary; there are still many untried routes to a resolution of our impasse with Iran’s nuclear program, other then the pre-emptive war that’s long been on the wish-list of the neo-cons.

In short, Iran itself is not an imminent threat. But war with Iran is.

Do we accept this movement towards war when it brings the possibilities outlined above? Is this a world we want? We’re at the edge of the abyss. If ever there was a time to stop being “good Germans,” to stop passively resigning ourselves to our government’s dangerous policies, that time is now.

Here are some effective things we can do, but we must act now:

(1) Flood the press, radio talk shows, the Internet with calls, letters, and articles pointing to the administration’s intentions, and the madness of the impending war. Talk with everyone we know, at home and at work, about what’s going on.

(2) Push Congress to immediately enact legislation prohibiting U.S. funding for a American or Israeli attack on Iran until congressional hearings on the threats presented by Iran have been held. A precedent for this would be the Boland Amendment which cut U.S. funds for the Contras in the 1980s. (See Scott Ritter’s article, “Stop the War with Iran Before it Begins,”, 1/25/07)

(3) Join peace groups wherever we can find them, and join with others in engaging in “direct action” -- non-violent civil disobedience. If large enough numbers of get arrested for publicizing and opposing the impending disaster, Congress may find its courage to act effectively -- cutting off funds, publicly examining the Iran situation, and investigating the impeachment of those who are leading us into a nightmare future we just voted against.

We, the people of America, are the only ones who can stop this. The need is urgent, and the time is now.

--Eric Herter was the Vietnam producer for Associated Press Television in the 1990s, and is grandson of Eisenhower Administration U.S. Secretary of State, Christian Herter. He lives and works in Brunswick, Maine.