Saturday, September 23, 2006

Iran's Star Rising in the Next World Order (Part II)

Cross posted at the front page of My Left Wing.

(Part I examined the underlying motives of the push for war with Iran. Part II discusses how the run up to a possible Iranian confrontation parallels what we saw with Iraq and examines how, if at all, we can arrive at a better conclusion than we did last time.)

Plan A

Plan A for Iran looks remarkably like Plan A for Iraq. As Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story reported on August 18, Cheney has formed an "Iranian Directorate" comprised of fellow neoconservative ideologues to shake and bake the intelligence on Iran similarly to the way his Office of Special Plans manufactured Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities.

As in the run up to Iraq, much of the mainstream media is cooperating in the pre-war propaganda operation. In its September 25 issue, TIME Magazine ran two articles that were reminiscent of its cooperation with Cheney's office to discredit former Ambassador Joe Wilson's assertion that the administration's claim of a Hussein-Nigeria uranium connection was a hoax.

But TIME is not alone--much of the rest of the so-called "liberal media" has jumped on the Iran bandwagon. MSNBC is one of the worst offenders. Wednesday, September 21st, the cable news network devoted the entire morning to trotting out neoconservative mouthpieces like Mary Matalin and Anderson Williams and let them recite the entire menu of the administration's talking points.

It's Hard to Stop a Train

Seymore Hersh of The New Yorker revealed in April 2006 that despite its "publicly advocating diplomacy," the Bush administration had "…increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack."

In July, Hersh reported that high level uniformed officials at the Pentagon had a "problem" with young Mister Bush's Iran policy.
Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States.

Hersh's sources also said that military and intelligence experts are concerned that there's no tangible proof that Iran is lying when it says it doesn't seek to develop nuclear weapons.
A crucial issue in the military’s dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit…

…“There is a war about the war going on inside the building,” a Pentagon consultant said. “If we go, we have to find something.”

Hersh also quoted a former four-star general, seemingly embarrassed by the retired general and flag officer community's reticence to speak out against the Iraq invasion before the fact, as saying, "The system is starting to sense the end of the road, and they don’t want to be condemned by history. They want to be able to say, ‘We stood up.’ ”

At this, point, lamentably, it appears that the senior leadership in the Pentagon has decided to take a seat.

Stand Up, Sit Down, Fight, Fight, Fight!

America's intelligence agencies and Dick Cheney's handmaidens in the Iranian Directorate probably aren't going to find any proof of Iran's intentions to develop nuclear weapons because there probably isn't anything to find. That's probably why Ahmadinejad looks so smug and confident when he tells the world that Iran has nothing to hide.

And that's probably because whatever Iran's nuclear intentions are, they have nothing to hide yet. As one high ranking active duty general told Hersh, “The question we face is, when does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?”

That's unknowable. It's entirely possible that if Iran ever develops nuclear weapons, we won't find out about it until they tell us--that's pretty much how the North Korea situation played out. So it's likely that if we do strike Iran, it will be based on a worst-case guess, and that's going to be tough to justify to the rest of the world.

The consequences of striking Iran without tangible justification would be devastating. Depending on how a strike operation goes, we could take a lot of battle damage, which would harm our strategic military credibility even further that it is subsequent to our failed experiment in Iraq. What's more, such a move would profoundly diminish our economic and diplomatic clout.

In a nutshell, the goal of Realpolitik or "realistic foreign policy" is to strengthen your alliances, divide your enemies, and convince everybody else to stay out of the way. The Bush administration's pursuit of the neoconservative ideological policies has united our adversaries, pushed formerly non-aligned states into our adversaries' camp, and convinced former allies like the western European states to take a largely neutral position.

If we pull the trigger in Iran we'll shoot off another of our few remaining toes, and we won't have a friend left in the world but Israel. The senior military types who have been pushing back at the idea of attacking Iran understand this better than their civilian bosses, and that's a sad comment on contemporary America.

Our military is politically savvy and our politicians are militaristic.

Unfortunately, as Alexandrovna noted in a September 21 article, it looks like the military types have decided to be good soldiers and march to their civilian boss's orders.
The Pentagon's top brass has moved into second-stage contingency planning for a potential military strike on Iran, one senior intelligence official familiar with the plans tells RAW STORY…

…"The JCS has accepted the inevitable," the intelligence official said, "and is engaged in serious contingency planning to deal with the worst case scenarios that the intelligence community has been painting."

The military might conceivably block an ill advised war with Iran through a "passive coup" of mass resignations and requests for retirement. For such a revolt to work, the four-stars would have lead the charge, but if Alexandrovna's source is correct, it appears the four-stars have decided, once again, to roll over for their civilian masters.

That isn't too surprising. They didn't become four-stars by telling Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld "no."

And if shove comes to biff, Congress can't really block Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld from whacking Iran either, because the War Powers Resolution of 1973 essentially gives a President authority to commit forces to combat for 90 days without interference.

In Part III: how big could this thing get?

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Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.

Related Articles:

The Walrus and the Carpenter and Iran

Krazy Like a Krauthammer

Who Can Stop a War with Iran?

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