Some of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources…
…“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
As you might expect, Smith and Baxter don't mention any names--either of their sources or of what generals or admirals might be involved. "Four or five generals and admirals" could be the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff or it could be a handful of one and two-stars who whose careers are at a dead end anyway. It's very unlikely that Admiral William Fallon or General David Petraeus would resign over a strike on Iran having just taken over the top two slots in Central Command.
From the sound of things, a majority of the top Pentagon brass thinks a strike on Iran would be a disastrous failure, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seems to agree with that view. Mr. Bush's chief ally overseas, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is on record as saying it would not "be right to take military action against Iran."
Yet, not surprisingly, Vice President Dick Cheney insists that the military option remains on the table. If this were coming from anyone but Cheney, I'd be willing to accept it as mere gamesmanship. But Cheney and his neo-confederates have been pushing for war with Iran for a long time.
Seymour Hersh appeared on CNN's Late Edition Sunday afternoon and talked about his upcoming story in the March 4 issue of The New Yorker. In "The Redirection" Hersh describes, among other things, how a planning cell in the Pentagon continues to rework the Iran target set.
…the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
This week, Senate Democrats will attempt to pass legislation that puts an expiration date on the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. How they'll get that past a Republican filibuster is anybody's guess.
If Congress really wants to keep Mr. Bush from moving against Iran without legislative approval, however, the bill they really need to revise is the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The Resolution, in effect, allows a president to commit troops to combat for up to 60 days before he needs to come to Congress for a declaration of war or "specific statutory authorization." If Mr. Bush can order an air operation against Iran on a 24-hour notice, he can blow up a significant portion of the country in 60 days.
The tricky part for Bush is finding a good enough excuse to pull a stunt of this magnitude.
From the Los Angeles Times we learn that the U.N. deems U.S. intelligence on Iran's nuclear intentions to be unreliable.
VIENNA — Although international concern is growing about Iran's nuclear program and its regional ambitions, diplomats here say most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran.
The officials said the CIA and other Western spy services had provided sensitive information to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency at least since 2002, when Iran's long-secret nuclear program was exposed. But none of the tips about supposed secret weapons sites provided clear evidence that the Islamic Republic was developing illicit weapons.
The clumsy attempt two weeks ago by unnamed senior defense officials to "prove" Iran is supplying weapons to militant groups in Iraq virtually blew up in their faces. So Mr. Bush's best hope for a justification to bomb Iran is an incident at sea between U.S. and Iranian naval forces.
As the U.S. increases the number of ships deployed to the region, the greater the odds become of such an incident occurring. We can take some comfort in the fact that American and Iranian naval ships have operated in the vicinity of each other in the Gulf and the North Arabian Sea for decades and have learned to avoid "mistakes" that could lead to unintentional weapons exchanges. Nonetheless, the present situation between the two countries is more tense that it has been since the Tanker War in the 80s.
If a U.S. ship is attacked--or perceived to have been attacked--by an Iranian vessel, or hits a mine, would American generals and admirals follow through on the threat to resign rather than participate in a strike on Iran?
If they do, the times we live in will become interesting indeed.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.