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Iran Clock Is Ticking

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  • Adam Whaley
    Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by Consortium News Iran Clock Is Ticking http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0131-28.htm While congressional Democrats
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 31, 2007
      Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by Consortium News
      Iran Clock Is Ticking
      http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0131-28.htm

      While congressional Democrats test how far they should go in challenging
      George W. Bush’s war powers, the time may be running out to stop Bush
      from ordering a major escalation of the Middle East conflict by
      attacking Iran.

      Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations
      are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as
      mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over
      whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will
      take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

      But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that
      Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second
      aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region – and for a
      propaganda blitz to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home.

      One well-informed U.S. military source called me in a fury after
      consulting with Pentagon associates and discovering how far along the
      war preparations are. He said the plans call for extensive aerial
      attacks on Iran, including use of powerful bunker-busting ordnance.

      Another source with a pipeline into Israeli thinking said the Iran war
      plan has expanded over the past several weeks. Earlier thinking had been
      that Israeli warplanes would hit Iranian nuclear targets with U.S.
      forces in reserve in case of Iranian retaliation, but now the strategy
      anticipates a major U.S. military follow-up to an Israeli attack, the
      source said.

      Both sources used the same word “crazy” in describing the plan to expand
      the war to Iran. The two sources, like others I have interviewed, said
      that attacking Iran could touch off a regional – and possibly global –
      conflagration.

      “It will be like the TV show ‘24’,” the American military source said,
      citing the likelihood of Islamic retaliation reaching directly into the
      United States.

      Though Bush insists that no decision has been made on attacking Iran, he
      offered similar assurances of his commitment to peace in the months
      before invading Iraq in 2003. Yet leaked documents from London made
      clear that he had set a course for war nine months to a year before the
      Iraq invasion.

      In other words, Bush’s statements that he has no plans to "invade" Iran
      and that he’s still committed to settle differences with Iran over its
      nuclear program diplomatically should be taken with a grain of salt.

      There is, of course, the possibility that the war preparations are a
      game of chicken to pressure Iran to accept outside controls on its
      nuclear program and to trim back its regional ambitions. But sometimes
      such high-stakes gambles lead to miscalculations or set in motion
      dynamics that can't be controlled.

      ‘You Will Die’

      The rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq is seen as another factor
      pressing on Bush to act quickly against Iran.

      Other sources with first-hand knowledge of conditions in Iraq have told
      me that the U.S. position is even more precarious than generally
      understood. Westerners can’t even move around Baghdad and many other
      Iraqi cities except in armed convoys.

      “In some countries, if you want to get out of the car and go to the
      market, they’ll tell you that it might be dangerous,” one experienced
      American cameraman told me. “In Iraq, you will be killed. Not that you
      might be killed, but you will be killed. The first Iraqi with a gun will
      shoot you, and if no one has a gun, they’ll stone you.”

      While U.S. war correspondents in most countries travel around in taxis
      with “TV” taped to their windows, Western journalists in Iraq move only
      in armed convoys to and from specific destinations. They operate from
      heavily guarded Baghdad hotels sometimes with single families
      responsible for security since outsiders can't be trusted.

      The American cameraman said one European journalist rebelled at the
      confinement, took off on her own in a cab – and was never seen again.

      Depression also is spreading among U.S. intelligence officials who
      monitor covert operations in Iraq from listening stations sometimes
      thousands of miles away. The results of these Special Forces operations
      have been so horrendous that morale in the intelligence community has
      suffered.

      The futility of the Iraq War also is contributing to professional
      cynicism. Some intelligence support personnel are volunteering for Iraq
      duty not because they think they can help win the war but because the
      hazard pay is high and life in the protected Green Zone is relatively
      safe and easy.

      Once getting past the risks of the Baghdad airport and the dangerous
      road into the city, U.S. civilian government personnel ensconce
      themselves in the Green Zone, which amounts to a bubble of U.S. creature
      comforts – from hamburgers to lounging by the pool – separate from the
      world of average Iraqis who are mostly barred.

      Cooks are brought in from other countries out of the unstated concern
      that Iraqis might poison the food.

      That American officials have come to view a posting in Iraq as a
      pleasant career enhancer – rather than a vital national security mission
      for the United States – is another sign that the war is almost certainly
      beyond recovery.

      Another experienced observer of conflicts around the world told me that
      Bush’s new idea of putting small numbers of U.S. troops among Iraqi
      government forces inside police stations represents an act of idiocy
      that is sure to get Americans killed.

      Conditions in Iraq have so deteriorated – and animosity toward Americans
      has so metastasized – that traditional counterinsurgency strategies are
      hard to envision, too.

      Normally, winning the hearts and minds of a target population requires a
      commitment to move among the people and work on public action projects,
      from building roads to improving the judicial system. But all that
      requires some measure of political goodwill and personal trust.

      Given the nearly four years of U.S. occupation and the devastation that
      Iraq has suffered, not even the most talented American counterinsurgency
      specialists can expect to overcome the hatred swelling among large
      segments of Iraqi society.

      Bush’s “surge” strategy of conducting more military sweeps through more
      Iraqi neighborhoods – knocking down doors, gunning down hostile Iraqis
      and dragging off others to detention camps – is not likely to assuage
      hard feelings.

      Wider War

      So, facing slim odds in Iraq, Bush is tempted by the allure of
      escalation, a chance to blame the Iranians for his Iraq failure and to
      punish them with air strikes. He might see that as a way to buy time, a
      chance to rally his pro-war supporters and a strategy for enhancing his
      presidential legacy.

      But the consequences both internationally and domestically – from
      possible disruption of oil supplies to potential retaliation from
      Islamic terrorists – could be devastating.

      Yet, there is a sense of futility among many in Washington who doubt
      they can do anything to stop Bush. So far, the Democratic-controlled
      Congress has lagged behind the curve, debating how to phrase a
      non-binding resolution of disapproval about Bush’s “surge” of 21,500
      troops in Iraq, while Bush may be opening an entirely new front in Iran.

      According to intelligence sources, Bush’s Iran strategy is expected to
      let the Israelis take a lead role in attacking Iran's nuclear facilities
      in order to defuse Democratic opposition and let the U.S. intervention
      be sold as defensive, a case of a vulnerable ally protecting itself from
      a future nuclear threat.

      Once American air and naval forces are committed to a new conflict, the
      Democrats will find it politically difficult to interfere at least in
      the near future, the thinking goes. A violent reaction from the Islamic
      world would further polarize the American population and let Bush paint
      war critics as cowardly, disloyal or pro-terrorist.

      As risky as a wider war might be, Bush’s end game would dominate the
      final two years of his presidency as he forces both Republican and
      Democratic candidates to address issues of war and peace on his terms.

      On Jan. 10, the night of Bush’s national address on the Iraq War, NBC
      Washington bureau chief Tim Russert made a striking observation about a
      pre-speech briefing that Bush and other senior administration officials
      gave to news executives.

      “There’s a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that
      Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue in the
      country and the world in a very acute way – and a prediction that in
      2008 candidates of both parties will have as a fundamental campaign
      promise or premise a policy to deal with Iran and not let it go
      nuclear,” Russert said. “That’s how significant Iran was today.”

      So, Bush and his top advisers not only signaled their expectation of a
      “very acute” development with Iran but that the Iranian issue would come
      to dominate Campaign 2008 with candidates forced to spell out plans for
      containing this enemy state.

      What to Do?

      The immediate question, however, is what, if anything, can Congress and
      the American people do to head off Bush’s expanded war strategy.

      Some in Congress have called on Bush to seek prior congressional
      approval before entering a war with Iran. Others, such as Sen. Arlen
      Specter, R-Pennsylvania, have asked Bush to spell out how expansive he
      thinks his war powers are.

      "I would suggest respectfully to the President that he is not the sole
      decider," Specter said during a Senate hearing on war powers on Jan. 30.
      "The decider is a shared and joint responsibility."

      But Bush and his neoconservative legal advisers have made clear that
      they see virtually no limits to Bush's "plenary" powers as Commander in
      Chief at a time of war. In their view, Bush is free to take military
      actions abroad and to waive legal and constitutional constraints at home
      because the United States has been deemed part of the "battlefield."

      Nothing short of a direct congressional prohibition on war with Iran and
      a serious threat of impeachment would seem likely to give Bush more than
      a moment’s pause. But congressional Republicans would surely obstruct
      such measures and Bush might well veto any law that was passed.

      Still, unless Congress escalates the confrontation with the President –
      and does so quickly – it may be too late to stop what could become a
      very dangerous escalation.

      Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the
      Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege:
      Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at
      secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his
      1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'
    • Tim Murphy
      I gather Cheney is visiting Australia and Japan on February 19. Surely we would wont to be on hand to make sure George stuck to his war plans. Tim Murphy
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 2, 2007
        I gather Cheney is visiting Australia and Japan on February 19. Surely we
        would wont to be on hand to make sure George stuck to his war plans.

        Tim Murphy
        Brisbane - Australia

        -----Original Message-----
        From: energyresources@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:energyresources@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Adam Whaley
        Sent: Thursday, 1 February 2007 1:35 PM
        To: EnergyResources; PFP
        Subject: [energyresources] Iran Clock Is Ticking


        Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by Consortium News
        Iran Clock Is Ticking
        http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0131-28.htm

        While congressional Democrats test how far they should go in challenging
        George W. Bush’s war powers, the time may be running out to stop Bush
        from ordering a major escalation of the Middle East conflict by
        attacking Iran.

        Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations
        are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as
        mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over
        whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will
        take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
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