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Thursday, April 06, 2006
The October surprise?
If things continue to go downhill for the president, don't think he doesn't have another, very familiar card to play... And let's not forget, the neocons are on a deadline -- they have until January 2009 to finish the hit list. From a June, 2003 piece by Eric Margolis:

Soon after Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon demanded the US Army march on Tehran, his American neo-conservative supporters launched a get-Iran campaign, featuring the identical propaganda they used to fan war fever against Iraq: weapons of mass destruction, threats to the US, terrorism and human rights violations. Some imaginative neo-cons even claim Saddam’s unfindable weapons were moved to Iran.
And now this from the Forward magazine:

U.S. Officials Are Mulling Iran Strikes, Experts Say
Plans Stepped Up as Tehran Tests Weapons
April 7, 2006

Key players in the Bush administration think a military confrontation with Iran is unavoidable, leading to stepped up military planning for such a prospect, according to several experts and recently departed senior government officials.

Some of these observers stressed that military strikes against Iran are not imminent and speculated that the escalated war chatter could be a deliberate ploy to ratchet up diplomatic pressure on Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Still, they made clear, the tone in Washington has changed drastically.

"In recent months I have grown increasingly concerned that the administration has been giving thought to a heavy dose of air strikes against Iran's nuclear sector without giving enough weight to the possible ramifications of such action," said Wayne White, a former deputy director at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. White, who worked in the bureau's Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia, left government in early 2005 and is now an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute.

Several experts and former officials interviewed by the Forward pointed to Vice President Dick Cheney as one of the key figures who has concluded that the ongoing diplomatic efforts to bring Iran before the United Nations Security Council and eventually slap the Islamic regime with sanctions will come to naught, forcing Washington to resort to force to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

Cheney's office responded that he was "supporting the administration's position" of seeking a diplomatic solution while keeping all options on the table. ...
Why would the neocons contemplate this, given the mess they've made of Iraq? Because advocating war in the Middle East and against other recalcitrant regimes is what they do, and they still need to knock off Iran, Syria and Lebanon, at least, in order to complete their mission via the presidency of George W. Bush. (If they could also snag Venezuela and Cuba, that'd be aces, too, but it's the Muslims who really bug them...)

Do I think we'll go to war with Iran before the year is out? Sadly, yes, unless something significant happens to derail it. I think we'll at least mount airstrikes at Iran (no invasion -- we can't) if for no other reason than the Bushies know what war will do to the press (subdue them and send them back to their graphics bins scrambling for catchy names for the war), the public (rally them behind their "commander in chief") and the election (scare the voters into staying with the GOP). Besides, the Israelis wish it, and we've got to give them something in return for whatever share of the West Bank they're willing to wall off for the Palestinians. (That's a big facetious, but I'm just in that kind of mood...)

If the Democrats were smart, they'd start preparing themselves for the possibility, and figure out where they would stand on a third Gulf War. As Kevin Drum wrote not too long ago in the Atlantic Monthly:

So: What would be the Democratic response if (a) Bush asked for an authorization of force against Iran or (b) simply launched an assault without asking Congress? The chances of this coming up as an issue this year are strong enough that it would be foolish not to be prepared to deal with it.
The neocons aren't done, folks. They're just getting warmed up. (More on the goings on here) In fact, it's time for all Americans to start taking seriously the possibility that "the war is not over" by a longshot, and that semi-permanent armed conflict in the Middle East could be in the offing for the remainder of Mr. Bush's term. Longer if voters agree to elect Bush's chosen successor, neocon true believer John McCain...

Update: The Telegraph (which has been way out ahead on the Iran-U.S. strike story) says Iran's new Shahab missile can carry nuclear warheads. And just to complicate this game even further, the Telegraph reports that Iran has been getting secret help in its race to get the bomb (before Israel or the U.S. attacks) from the Russians and Chinese... A quote from an article last year by Telegraph writer Con Coughlin:

It is the new Great Game, and the stakes could not be higher. The more Washington puts pressure on Iran to come clean about its nuclear ambitions, the more determined Moscow becomes to ensure that there is no disruption to its lucrative contract to turn Iran into a nuclear power.

What is more, as The Sunday Telegraph reports today, former senior officers in the Russian armed forces are acting as go-betweens to help Iran to acquire missile technology from North Korea that will enable it to develop a missile system capable of reaching France.
Looked at that way, the horror show that is Iraq looks like the "deep breath before the plunge..."

Update 2: The American Conservative magazine pleads with the president: don't do it.

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posted by JReid @ 11:48 PM  
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