Posted by Damozel | "RAMPING UP?" In the meantime, while Burma---where the people are crying out for democracy---lies bleeding, the Bush Administration is allegedly "ramping up" the preparations for "surgical strikes" against Iran. So says Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker, who has kept a chose eye on the Administration's shifting war policy. One recently retired CIA official told Hersh: They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk...They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency." (The New Yorker)
BUT HE PROMISED CONDI! According to an article published a few weeks back in The Sunday Telegraph, Condoleezza Rice made Bush promise to build the case over a period of months and win sufficient support on Capitol Hill before initiating action.If he breaks his word? She's so out of there! Or so the story goes. The sense among those who watch the Administration is that Condi---the Secretary of State---is losing the battle with Cheney, the Vice President. Of course, Cheney is, and always has been, a very, very unusual Vice President---The Washington Post recently fully revealed just how unusual---and no one is surprised anymore (were we ever?) to learn that he is formulating policy on war and terrorism instead of just cutting ribbons and planning his presidential campaign like a normal vice-president.
And within the Administration, the notion that "if many of America’s problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians" has evidently taken "firm hold." (The New Yorker) The silver lining (always look for it) is that the lack of "popular support for a major bombing campaign" has evidently persuaded the Bush Administration to narrow its plan to "surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere. Hey, man, all power to the people, yeah? Never say we're not being heard!
"The focus of the plans
had been a broad bombing
attack, with targets
including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other
military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical”
strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and
elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of
attacks on Americans in Iraq." (The New Yorker) I always believe in looking for the silver lining.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT.... Nicolas Burns (Under-secretary for foreign affairs), updated the press on where things stand at the State Department. In a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia, all of whom, according to Burns, "are dedicated to a peaceful solution" on the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions. On the other hand, they all wish to "send Iran a very tough and strict message about what's going to happen [sanctions] if there isn't positive progress in the next month or so. (The State Department)
SO IS A CONFRONTATION WITH IRAN REALLY INEVITABLE? Is it?
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said, “The President has made it clear that the United States government remains committed to a diplomatic solution with respect to Iran. The State Department is working diligently along with the international community to address our broad range of concerns.”..(The White House declined to comment.) I was repeatedly cautioned, in interviews, that the President has yet to issue the “execute order” that would be required for a military operation inside Iran, and such an order may never be issued..(The New Yorker)
Um, but if/when the order is issued, won't it be too late to speculate?
And anyway, there seem to be two completely different strands to the Administration's Iran policy: (1) nuclear proliferation concerns; and (2) "counterterrorism" so called.
[T]he President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.(The New Yorker)
Reading between the lines, then, progress on the anti-proliferation front, if any, presumably wouldn't preclude the Administration from trying to take out Iranian targets it regards as interfering with progress in Iraq...? Won't the other countries who are working with the US on the nuclear proliferation issue view this as likely to interfere with negotiations? Yes? No?
"FATALLY FLAWED?" AN ATTACK FROM BRITAIN ON US WAR POLICY. According to an article in The Independent (quoting the Hersh article), either Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is "on board" with surgical strikes" on Iran or W thinks that he is.
Of course, the meantime, Brown is pulling 1000 British troops out of Basra, despite ongoing US pressure to delay withdrawal. The Brits are evidently hearing the same message we are: coalition forces are going to be in Iraq for some time to come. "It is thought British forces are likely to stay in Basra for up to two more years on "overwatch", which involves mentoring and training the Iraqis rather than patrolling." (BBC)
Also in the meantime, British Major General Tim Cross, "the most senior UK officer involved in post war planning," has been saying that US policy in Iraq is "fatally flawed." Reassuring! Though perhaps our Iran policy isn't quite so flawed, since Cross appears to blame the problems in Iraq on Rumsfeld:
Right from the very beginning we were all very concerned about the lack of detail that had gone into the post-war plan and there is no doubt that Rumsfeld was at the heart of that process...I had lunch with Rumsfeld in February in Washington - before the invasion in March 2003 - and raised concerns about the need to internationalise the reconstruction of Iraq and work closely with the United Nations...He didn't want to hear that message,..The US had already convinced themselves that following the invasion Iraq would emerge reasonably quickly as a stable democracy."(BBC)
Or maybe it wasn't just Rumsfeld and this Administration---with or without him--- really is (I'm trying this very politely) steering the plane with flies in its eyes. And to paraphrase Catch-22's Mr Orr how can it see it's got flies in its eyes if it's got flies in its eyes?
Seriously, can you blame me, or anyone, for a certain skepticism, for a certain lack of trust that the Bush Administration individually and collectively knows, or has ever known, what it's doing about anything?
REPUBLICAN WORRIES? PFFFF! You may wonder if "surgical strikes" in Iran would have the support of Congress,
including Republicans in Congress. Well, it wouldn't. But that doesn't
matter. A "former intelligence official" told Hersh: ""Meanwhile, the
politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every
Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going
over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the
Republican worries, and neither does the President.”" (The New Yorker) I'd laugh hollowly at this point if I could. Karl Rove, can you hear me now?
Already, according to a retired CIA official, “They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk....They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. (The New Yorker)
BUT....CLINTON DID IT TOO! Cheney seems to think that if Democrats object to military action in Iran, the Administration would respond by pointing out that it was "a defensive action to save soliders in Iraq" (The New Yorker) "If Democrats objected, the Administration could say, “Bill Clinton did the same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in Baghdad to protect American lives.”(The New Yorker)
Evidently the Bush Administration and Republicans generally secretly have a much higher opinion of him than they pretend, since he's become their touchstone for everything they do that Democrats dislike and their justification for everything even they know they shouldn't be doing. He's evidently a Republican role model.
Crooks and Liars has a piece on the Hersh article: Sy Hersh on Bush and Iran: Shifting targets: New Propaganda push to attack their Revolutionary Guard.
Now you understand why the Lieberman/Kyl amendment was just put through. If BushCo. wants to heighten the sense of nationalism in Iran, just attack them and keep on this course of immorality. It’s another disaster coming from Bush/Cheney and the Neocons in a long line of them and I know Bush and Cheney thank our media for doing what they always do…Nothing, except Sy. (Crooks and Liars)
Also at Crooks and Liars you can watch this this video of Hersh on Countdown.
Looking to the right (well, slightly right of center), we learn that---contra Marc Schulman--- Andrew Sullivan doesn't think that "Hersh is making this stuff up."
The original goal of the Iraq war was, in part, to destabilize Iran. If a democracy took hold in Iraq, the argument went (and I bought it), Iran's mullahs would be vulnerable to domestic revolution. Obviously, the Iraq disaster has made that unlikely. If anything, it has helped stigmatize democracy among Arab Muslims and Persians, by associating it with disorder and anarchy (thanks, Mr President). So if you're Cheney and being nice guy didn't work, why would he not try the alternative? The man is clearly divorced from reality; and the stream of propaganda that has come out from the Bush right these past few months is noteworthy. The drum beat of very serious accusations against Iran, the fact that Sarkozy and Brown have obviously been warned of what's coming, and the Senate resolution last week...are hard to ignore. Are we supposed to believe Cheney has nothing to do with this? The Daily Dish, Can Hersh Be Believed?
Evidently Marc Schulman thinks that "Hersh has been doing everything in his power to convince the public—and the Iranians—that the Bush Administration is on the verge of attacking Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons, and, by implication, that the Administration’s statements regarding diplomatic efforts represent a cover-up of its real intentions." Seymour Hersh on Iran (Again) I would love to believe this, but....no, even after reading Schulman's other posts on Iran, I just can't believe that all the hints and allegations we've been hearing for the last several months don't evidence some sort of intention....
BN-POLITICS: RELATED POSTINGS.
Is War with Iran Next and Will a Draft Follow? (Sep. 2007)
Are we Inching Closer to War with Iran? (Aug. 2007)
- Hersh: The Administration's Shifting Targets (The New Yorker)
- Fresh UK attack on US Iraq Policy (BBC News)
- UK Troops In Basra Cut by 1,000 (BBC News)
- On-the-Record Briefing After Secretary Rice's Meeting with the P-5 Plus Germany Plus EU (State Department)
- US Plan for Air Strikes on Iran 'backed by Brown' (Independent)
- Joan Smith: Burma Lies Bleeding (The Independent on Sunday)
- The Sunday Telegraph: Philip Sherwell & Tim Shipman, Bush Setting America Up for War with Iran (Sun. Telegraph)
- Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency (Washington Post). "This series examines Cheney's largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment." (Washington Post)
- The New York Times: In Bush Speech, Signs of Split on Iran Policy (NYT)
- BBC News: France Warning of War with Iran (BBC)