The new Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker has both good news and bad news, on the Bush Administration’s warmongering against Iran.
The good news?
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.
Furthermore, understanding that the American public isn’t buying his demonizing of Iran, Bush has realized that he can’t sell an all-out war. He also seems to understand that Iran really is at least five years from having nuclear weapons capabilities, so there is no imminent threat.
The bad news?
Bush realizes that Iran is the big winner of his Iraq disaster. So, he has to do something. As an average adolescent would, Bush seems to have decided that the best way to reverse the victory he handed Iran, by invading Iraq, is to bomb them.
(T)here has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning. In mid-August, senior officials told reporters that the Administration intended to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. And two former senior officials of the C.I.A. told me that, by late summer, the agency had increased the size and the authority of the Iranian Operations Group.
First, the Senate’s recent declaration that Iran is a terrorist organization gave Bush nothing, operationally, if he intends to invade Iran. He can do the labeling all by himself. And if he so intends, he certainly will. The Senate resolution was asinine because it helped Bush catapult the propaganda, but it in no way gave Bush powers he didn’t have. He will do whatever he intends to do, and fuck the world. He’s the Commander Guy. The Decider. The Unitary Executive.
Furthermore, Hersh says a lot of people are being moved to the Iran desk. Some of the same people who worked Iraq, in 2002. And as was the case with that war’s disastrous “planning,” the people planning a possible strike on Iran are clueless about some basics. Like about Iran. Like about the Iranians’ possible reaction.
Hersh quotes President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski- in his time, a known hawk:
Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”
And finally, what this all clearly reflects is a desire to attack Iran, no matter the facts. Just as was the case with Iraq. The public isn’t playing along, and the supposed nuclear threat isn’t imminent, so a new justification had to be created: Iraq. Iran is interfering with our occupation of Iraq! Our immoral, illegal, and unjustified occupation of Iraq…
The push to attack Iran is led by Vice President Dick Cheney. Pretend you’re surprised.
“There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. 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.”
It should be noted that he also clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about some things that are immeasurably more important: people’s lives. Hersh says the Administration has been redrawing its attack plans, now realizing that a full-scale war will not sell with the American public. So, they’re thinking strategic bombing. And we know how well such bombing works out. Should it happen, expect the TV foofs to continually use that insidious phrase “collateral damage.” Cheney also clearly doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the damage such an attack would do to America’s already collapsing standing in the world. Dick Cheney is the greatest threat to our national security.
In other news, on the insane warmongering front, Bush’s former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, is also a busy man. As the Guardian reports:
John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, told Tory delegates today that efforts by the UK and the EU to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country.
Of course, in a recent Spiegel Online interview, Nobel Peace Prize winning IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei had this to say:
There are hopeful and positive signs. For the first time, we have agreed, with the Iranians, to a sort of roadmap, a schedule, if you will, for clarifying the outstanding issues. We should know by November, or December at the latest, whether the Iranians will keep their promises.
(T)hose in the West must realize that if all they expect is confrontation, they might as well forget dialogue — and they should not be surprised if the other side seeks retribution.
In other words, negotiations haven’t failed, but are ongoing. And, as Hersh noted, even Bush seems to accept that Iran is not close to actually having a nuclear bomb. So, there would seem to be an alternative to a pre-emptive strike.
But Bolton has his mission:
“I don’t think the use of military force is an attractive option, but I would tell you I don’t know what the alternative is.
“Because life is about choices, I think we have to consider the use of military force. I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities.”
He added that any strike should be followed by an attempt to remove the “source of the problem”, Mr Ahmadinejad.
There’s some diplomatic genius, for you. He knows of no alternative but bombing. He wants to take out another nation’s elected leader. And he seems oblivious to the fact that Ahmadinejad isn’t actually the effective leader in Iran. Removing the real leaders would mean attacking living religious icons, and Bolton probably hasn’t bothered to consider the backlash should such be done.
The narrative is clear: Cheney, Bolton, and their ilk really want to attack Iran. Planning is being fine-tuned, but no order has yet been given. It may never be given! Republican politicos are frightened, but only for their own political futures. Someone needs to stand up to Dick Cheney.
It seems to me that the Democrats could at least attempt to play on those Republican political fears, and craft some sort of legislation or public framing about opposing an actual attack on Iran. With Lieberman-Kyl, they played the game of talking tough, while also insisting that the resolution be purged of language actually authorizing use of force. They can, and should, now back that maneuver, publically. Because they aren’t on board with a war on Iran. Right?