Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Iran: More Persian Fire Drill

Also at DKos.

The flip flop on Iran continues.

Over the weekend, Vice President Dick Cheney made boo noise about the possibility of military strikes on Iran by saying that "all options are still on the table."

But on Tuesday, Joint Chiefs chairman Peter Pace declared "categorically" before the U.S. Senate that the U.S. is not planning air strikes in Iran. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has repeatedly said much the same thing.

And yet, as Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker and Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story have been telling us for quite some time, Pentagon plans for an Iran strike are well into their advanced stages, and continue to be reevaluated and updated.

Certain outlets in the international press, quite plausibly influenced by propaganda cells within the Bush administration, continue to run headlines like "American Armada Prepares To Take On Iran."

So who's zooming whom here?

Iran Contra-diction

Despite the Bush administration's long-standing claims that Iran seeks the capability to develop nuclear weapons, it has failed to produce one stick of credible evidence to prove it. And the only "senior official" making claims that Iran is providing weapons to Iraqi militant groups who's willing to be identified in the press is some Army major who is a "weapons expert." Please note that being a weapons expert is not step on the fast track to becoming a U.S. Army general. But playing ball with the neocon agenda, well hell; that can land you a pretty cushy retirement job at a place like the American Enterprise Institute.

It's relatively clear that the rift between Dick Cheney's hapless hooligans and the competent professionals in the administration is about to come to an OK Corral-class showdown.

There's some indication that General Pace, the U.S. military's top officer, has undergone a second puberty. He slapped down claims by "senior defense officials" in Baghdad that the Iranian government was behind arming Shiite militants in Iraq. Some observers have suggested that Pace might be one of the generals who would resign if Mr. Bush launches an attack on Iran, but at present that's all "inside baseball" speculation.

Nonetheless, as I've said before, if Mr. Bush really wants to go big on Iran, Congress and the courts won't be able to stop him because they can't move as fast as the executive department can, especially when, as Sy Hersh warns, elements within the Pentagon (which I guess to be an Air Force planning cell) are putting together an Iran air strike package that can be popped off within 24 hours of Bush's say so.

So it just might be that the only thing staying Mr. Bush's hand is the possibility that if he decides to get froggy with Iran, his top military officer will pull a Pontius Pilate on him.

And it's a profoundly sad commentary on the state of our cherished constitutional process that the only person who can exercise checks on the powers of our commander in chief may turn out to be our top general.

Condi Candy

The New York Times tells us that the diplomatic impasse between the U.S. and Iran and Syria may be at an end. Here's the good news:
American officials said Tuesday that they had agreed to hold the highest-level contact with the Iranian authorities in more than two years as part of an international meeting on Iraq.

Here's the bad news:
The discussions, scheduled for the next two months, are expected to include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Iranian and Syrian counterparts.

Throwing Dubya's office wife Condi at negotiations with Iran and Syrian is the equivalent of putting a pedophile priest in charge of Boys' Town. If young Mr. Bush is the Alfred E. Neuman of U.S. presidencies (and he is), Condi Rice is the Britney Spears of American diplomacy.

Ms. Rice hasn't announced any plans to hold separate one-on-one talks with her Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki--which is probably good news. I'd hate to see what little good this "diplomatic" effort might produce get side railed by direct participation on Condi's part.

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

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:20 PM

    Interesting speculation. Friends inside the military, and retired military tell me that the plans to hit Iran have been going on for years. They say that these are basically "contingency plans" and not our first course of action. This gives plausible deniability to anything that you, Sy Hersh and Larisa might publish.

    Incidentally, the generals and admirals that threaten to resign if Bush does unilaterally go toe to toe with Iran are both very highly placed and well respected by the public, enjoying excellent name recognition. I wonder what would happen to their resolve however if we were attacked by Iran due to a genuine miscalculation as opposed to a false flag attack.

    MeMyselfEye

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  2. ozebloke1:23 AM

    I've now read 5 books on Iraqnam - Woodward's 'Plan Of Attack', Ricks' 'Fiasco', Bremer's 'My Year In Iraq', Woodward's 'State of Denial' and George Packer's 'The Assassins Gate'...

    There are 2 independent accounts of Boy George asking Jay Garner if he'll take his team into Iran next - you know since Jay had done such a bang up job in the month he'd been in Iraq! Garner tells the Moron-in-Chief he'd prefer Cuba - better cigars and rum and prettier women! You can just smell the good ole boy scratchin' and spittin'.

    And if we needed any more proof there's no God or Justice, the Taliban's missing Tricky Dick at Bagram has to be the sealer doesn't it?

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  3. MME,
    Contingency planning for Iran has been going on for decades. My strong sense is that what's been going on lately is above and beyond "normal" contingency planning, especially considering all the recent accusations and planted rhetoric.

    Oze,

    Garner in charge of an occupied Iran... Shudder!

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  4. Anonymous9:39 AM

    Jeff:

    I think that you may have missed my tone. I put "plausible deniability" in quotes because I believe that calling the attack plans a fallback "just in case" scenario is a smokescreen. At the very best, we are using the public leals of plans to intimidaete Iran via psyop. At worst, stand by for heavy seas and high water.

    MeMyself Eye

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  5. MME,

    Yeah, I'll agree with that. To a large extent, contingency planning, especially on Iran, is "normal."

    It took some doing to convince me that stories of stepped up planning weren't a bit hysterical. But putting the rhetoric (and its timing) together with the investigative reports convinced me otherwise.

    And I agree, much of this is a psyop aimed at Iran. But rattling a chain with no intention to ever use it, that's not sound business.

    Thanks for the inputs and insights, shipmate.

    Best,

    Jeff

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  6. My guess is that a lot of the talk and preperation is to try and push Iran into making the first step. Sure, Bush might not have public support now, but should he cajole Iran or an Iranian based organization into launching an attack against the U.S. or an ally... well, I shudder to think how quickly the winds of patriotism will change.

    They may be irresponsible and unethical, but I don't think that everyone in the administration is stupid (though they certainly haven't done much to prove me wrong on that point).

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  7. 00Zero, The Insider4:27 AM

    As an insider I tell you. Everything here is just fine. Let me see out of the window…. Yes cloudy and a bit of rain but the air is fresh and I can smell the Spring. No sound of war or even a cracker. (Only at night when at home I here occasional bangs and that is because the last Tuesday Night of the year here in Iran we celebrate something similar to Boxing Day.) The radio is on and because Friday is our weekend (strange ‘in it?) I can here nice music. Talking of Rice. Our main food here in Tehran is Rice. We cook in many different ways. One way is to boil it in water. (for each cup of rice two cups water) and when the water is evaporated, you put the top and turn the gas very low so it brews. The other way is that you boil it in a lot of water and then drain it and put it back in the pot, add some oil and put the top and turn the gas down so it brews. Or you can add to the rice some veggies or meat and …… so it brews. In any case you have to brew it so that it gets soft and tasety.
    I am sorry I got so carried away. It is one pm here and lunch time! We have (yeh you got it) rice for lunch.
    The insider
    Reporting live from Tehran , Capital of terror, traffic and pollution.

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  8. Anonymous5:48 AM

    I hope that Gen. Pace will use everything he and the other JCS supporting him have against this iran insanity. Ever since Gen. Pace slapped down rumsfeld on the torture issue at a news conference, I have been praying that Pace would somehow stop this insanity of the runaway bush regime or at least slow it down until the dems had a majority. Still waiting for the dems to impeach. Waxman seems on the ball.

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