Hersh: Cheney Wants Iran War, But No Order’s Been Given

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.

Three points:

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.

And this:

(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?

16 comments

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    • Valtin on October 1, 2007 at 12:14 am

    Unfortunately, to answer your concluding question, I see no reason to believe that the Democratic Party isn’t “on board” with a war on Iran. The Senate resolution was a cowardly “yes” to Bush to move forward, while giving themselves a sheer negligee of cover, as they are sitting in bed with Bush all the way.

    Just as on the Military Commissions Bill, on the funding of the Iraq War, on the Patriot Act, on the neo-con takeover of the Supreme Court, on the failure to indict ONE person for the illegal war on Iraq, the looting of billions of dollars, the torture, the Katrina abandonment, etc.

    If war on Iran doesn’t happen, it will be due to clique battles between the ruling elites, not due to public outrage or principled Democratic Party opposition. We can’t count on such things to keep this country from disaster (hence Iraq).

    A time of great change is welling up. What will it look like? Revolutionary change (of some sort) or a descent into total war, carnage, and barbarism (of which we are half way at least down that slope)?

    • snud on October 1, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Scott Ritter seem to agree.  From Truthdig.

    This link is a discussion between Ritter and Hersh on Democracy Now.

    Isn’t that special! Sounds like Georgie wants to whack another hornet’s nest.

    Regardless, I’d like to see those war powers taken back by Congress because Dubya belongs in a straight jacket and rubber room – especially if he does this.

  1. This illustrates the effect of the D’s immediate capitulation to the R’s.  By not even putting up a fight they signaled their weakness.  The momentum has been changing.  As more of the Democrats–who were elected to stop this kind of shit–realize that we aren’t forgetting why they are there (and of course the people who stood up against laying down without a fight)–the ones who are going to survive will start to listen to the people.

    Start Impeachment proceedings, now.
    Start true filibusters to stop any more power being grabbed by these people, now.
    Start a dialog with the people of America about the course set
      by the current admin. for the country, now.

    • Armando on October 1, 2007 at 1:31 am

    You write:

    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.

    The power to designate groups and/or countries terrorists or terrorist sponsors derives from federal law, enacted by Congress during the Clinton Administration.

    It has nothing to do with the Unitary Executive. 

    • disco on October 1, 2007 at 1:55 am

    without invading Iran, it’s really the best we can hope for out of this disgrace of a presidency.  It’s obvious we aren’t leaving Iraq any time before then. 

    sigh.  I wish I could just sleep until Election Day.

    • robodd on October 1, 2007 at 3:23 am

    thru Seder of today, is that they will not target suspected nuclear cites in Iraq, but will hit targets suspected of supplying arms to  insurgents in Iraq.  This is an easier attack to justify and would instigate a response from Iran, justifying further and more extensive.  This would explain Kyl-Lieberman.

  2. in the last few days, I saw a comment about an administration insider (as the DC talking hairdos like to call them) who said, in essence, if we bomb Iran the people will greet us as liberators.

    It was so staggeringly insanely off the charts that I didn’t think to make of note of where it was.

    But at least the speaker didn’t add that they’d throw flowers at us.

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