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Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Ring the alarm
Courtesy of the War and Peace blog (tip to ThinkProgress), a preview of Bill Arkin's next WaPo blog entry. The blockbuster tease: "Current land warfare war gaming and planning for Iran -- you read it here first" ... as WaP says, "with what Army?"

And despite Sy Hersh's assertions in his numerous television and radio interviews yesterday and today that we're mainly talking about using our Air Force and Navy against Iran, should we do it (as they're not currently bogged down in Iraq) Arkin paintes a very different scenario in his post from Monday, also htipping War and Peace:

A war with Iran started purposefully or by accident, will be a mess. What is happening now though is not just an administration prudently preparing . . . against an aggressive and crazed state, it is also aggressive and crazed, driven by groupthink and a closed circle of bears.

The public needs to know first, that this planning includes preemptive plans that the President could approve and implement with 12 hours notice. Congress should take notice of the fact that there is a real war plan -- CONPLAN 8022 -- and it could be implemented tomorrow.

Second, the public needs to know that the train has left the station on bigger war planning, that a ground war -- despite the Post claim yesterday that a land invasion 'is not contemplated' -- is also being prepared. It is a real war plan; I've heard CONPLAN 1025.

Like early 2002, the floodgates have opened and the stories about Iran war planning have started. Some claim Dick Cheney has already made the decision, some claim war this spring, some say the U.S. and Israel are collaborating.
This is getting serious, folks...

So what is "CONPLAN 8022"? According to the Nuclear Information Project:

The roots of the nuclear option in Global Strike go back more than a decade to the early 1990s, where military planners and policy makers gradually began to broaden the scope of U.S. nuclear strategy to incorporate missions against proliferators armed with weapons of mass destruction. Yet the nuclear counterproliferation mission was controversial because it appeared to broaden rather than reduce the role of nuclear weapons. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 removed those constraints and led to the formulation of new guidance that has spawned a highly offensive Global Strike mission with prompt or even preemptive strike planning against imminent threats anywhere on (and under) the face of the Earth.

The operational embodiment of the Global Strike mission is CONPLAN 8022, the detailed strike plan directed against proliferation targets in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere. First operational in 2004, refinement of CONPLAN 8022 continues.

The most recent version of the plan, reportedly developed in 2003, involves the use of tactical nuclear weapons, just as Seymour Hersh stated in his New Yorker article.

The Center for Research and Globalization did a very detailed piece on the U.S. posture toward Iran, including the Israeli ties, and the ties to AIPAC and the Larry Franklin spying scandal, Jack Abramoff and more. Writes Global Research contributor F. William Engdahl:

The neo-conservatives, although slightly lower profile in the second Bush Administration, are every bit as active, especially through Cheney’s office. They want a pre-emptive bombing strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.

But whatever Cheney’s office may be doing, officially, the Bush administration is pursuing a markedly different approach than it did in 2003, when its diplomacy was aimed at lining up allies for a war. This time, U.S. diplomats are seeking an international consensus on how to proceed, or at least, cultivating the impression of that.

Iraq and the deepening US disaster there has severely constrained possible US options in Iran. Back in 2003 in the wake of the Iraqi ‘victory,’ leading Washington neo-conservative hawks were vocally calling on Bush to ‘Move on to Tehran’ after Saddam Hussein. Now, because of the ``bloody quagmire'' in Iraq, the US is severely constrained from moving unilaterally.

With 140,000 troops tied down in Iraq, the US military physically cannot support another invasion and occupation in yet another country, let alone Iran.

Because of Iran's size, a ground invasion may require twice as many troops as in Iraq, says Richard Russell, a Middle East specialist at the National Defense University in Washington. While an air campaign could take out Iran's air defenses, it could also trigger terrorism and oil disruptions. Washington is internally split over the issue of a successful nuclear strike against Iran...
The piece also has this to say about CONPLAN 8022-02:

In January 2003 President Bush signed a classified Presidential Directive, CONPLAN 8022-02. Conplan 8022 is a war plan different from all prior in that it posits ‘no ground troops.’ It was specifically drafted to deal with ‘imminent’ threats from states such as North Korea or Iran.

Unlike the warplan for Iraq, a conventional one, which required coordinated preparation of air, ground and sea forces before it could be launched, a process of months even years, Conplan 8022 called for a highly concentrated strike combining bombing with electronic warfare and cyberattacks to cripple an opponent’s response—cutting electricity in the country, jamming communications, hacking computer networks.

Conplan 8022 explicitly includes a nuclear option, specially configured earth-penetrating ‘mini’ nukes to hit underground sites such as Iran’s. In summer 2005 Defense Secretary Rumsfeld approved a top secret ‘Interim Global Strike Alert Order’ directing round-the-clock military readiness, to be directed by the Omaha-based Strategic Command (Stratcom), according to a report in the May 15, 2005 Washington Post. Previously, ominously enough, Stratcom oversaw only the US nuclear forces. In January 2003 Bush signed on to a definition of ‘full spectrum global strike’ which included precision nuclear as well as conventional bombs, and space warfare. This was a follow-up to the President’s September 2002 National Security Strategy which laid out as US strategic doctrine a policy of ‘pre-emptive’ wars.

The burning question is whether, with plunging popularity polls, a coming national election, scandals and loss of influence, the Bush White House might ‘think the unthinkable’ and order a nuclear pre-emptive global strike on Iran before the November elections, perhaps early after the March 28 Israeli elections.

Some Pentagon analysts have suggested that the entire US strategy towards Iran, unlike with Iraq, is rather a carefully orchestrated escalation of psychological pressure and bluff to force Iran to back down. It seems clear, especially in light of the strategic threat Iran faces from US or Israeli forces on its borders after 2003 that Iran is not likely to back down from its clear plans to develop the full nuclear fuel cycle capacities and with it, the option of developing an Iranian nuclear capability.

The question then is what will Washington do? The fundamental change in US defense doctrine since 2001, from a posture of defense to offense has significantly lowered the threshold of nuclear war, perhaps even of a global nuclear conflagration.

And this was written in January, well before Hersh's scoop...

Back to Arkin's blog. He writes late Tuesday that war gaming a ground and possibly nuclear war with Iran dates back to the end of the first Gulf War, with much of it taking place during the Clinton administration:

In December 1991, flush with victory against the Iraqi army after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the RAND Corporation began a "Future of Warfare" seminar war game series positing Iran as the main future enemy.

The end of the Cold War and the seeming vanquishing of the Iraqi threat had left the Pentagon in a quandary. "I'm running out of enemies," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Colin Powell said.

Left without a distinct military foe, the Pentagon had to find a politically correct (i.e., non-Russian) yet challenging high intensity scenario to feed the machine. Iran was the obvious choice for the Middle East.
Obvious indeed.

Remember the PNAC principles of transformation (following some catalyzing event, like a "Pearl Harbor...?" The imperative to "fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars?" while "challenging regimes hostile to our interests and values?" And not least, Bush's messianic determination to carry out the PNAC plan?

It's time for Americans to begin taking this possibility very seriously. Very seriously indeed. Just because Jack Straw says the idea is nuts doesn't mean our administration isn't even nuttier...

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