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27 September 2006  |     mail this article   |     print   |   
This article is part of the series: The coming war against Iran
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The coming war against Iran - Part 13
Various units of the U.S. Navy have been informed that they must achieve a state of readiness by October 1st. The planning as it relates to Iran has been sent on to the White House. Sam Gardiner concludes: 'I think the plan's been picked: bomb the nuclear sites in Iran'. U.S. President George Bush was recently quoted as saying: 'It's very important for the American people to see the president try to solve problems diplomatically before resorting to military force.' In his column in The Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer notes that '"Before" implies that the one follows the other. The signal is unmistakable. An aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities lies just beyond the horizon of diplomacy. With the crisis advancing and the moment of truth approaching, it is important to begin looking now with unflinching honesty at the military option. The costs will be terrible'. This article picks up right where part 12 of this series left off.

The Dutch in the original article has been translated into English by Ben Kearney.
Israeli Premier Olmert in a recent interview: '"Israel can't accept the possibility of Iranians having nuclear weapons and we will act together with the international forces, starting with America, in order to prevent it. And as I also said, I believe that President Bush is absolutely determined to prevent it, and America has the capabilities to actually prevent it."' Bush has already indicated that a nuclear-armed Iran would 'not be tolerated'. 'Reagan conservative' Paul Craig Roberts writes: 'The neoconservative Bush administration will attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons, because it is the only way the neocons believe they can rescue their goal of US (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East. [...] Plans have long been made to attack Iran. The problem is that Iran can respond in effective ways to a conventional attack. Moreover, an American attack on another Muslim country could result in turmoil and rebellion throughout the Middle East. This is why the neocons have changed US war doctrine to permit a nuclear strike on Iran.' 'Eighteen hundred of our fellow physicists have joined in a petition [PDF] opposing new U.S. nuclear- weapons policies that open the door to the use of nuclear weapons for situations like Iran. As members of the profession that brought nuclear weapons into existence, we urge the administration to abandon such policies, which would have grave consequences for America and for the world', according to a letter to the editor in the International Herald Tribune.

Air war against Iran could deteriorate into ground war
Time Magazine reaches the same conclusion that can be drawn from this DeepJounal series on Iran: 'No one is talking about a ground invasion of Iran. Too many U.S. troops are tied down elsewhere to make it possible, and besides, it isn't necessary. If the U.S. goal is simply to stunt Iran's nuclear program, it can be done better and more safely by air. An attack limited to Iran's nuclear facilities would nonetheless require a massive campaign. Experts say that Iran has between 18 and 30 nuclear-related facilities. The sites are dispersed around the country - some in the open, some cloaked in the guise of conventional factories, some buried deep underground. [...] It's possible that U.S. warplanes could destroy every known nuclear site - while Tehran's nuclear wizards, operating at other, undiscovered sites even deeper underground, continued their work. "We don't know where it all is," said a White House official, "so we can't get it all." [...]
[Retired Marine General Anthony] Zinni, for one, believes an attack on Iran could eventually lead to U.S. troops on the ground. "You've got to be careful with your assumptions," he says. "In Iraq, the assumption was that it would be a liberation, not an occupation. You've got to be prepared for the worst case, and the worst case involving Iran takes you down to boots on the ground." All that, he says, makes an attack on Iran a "dumb idea." [General John] Abizaid, the current Centcom boss, chose his words carefully last May. "Look, any war with a country that is as big as Iran, that has a terrorist capability along its borders, that has a missile capability that is external to its own borders and that has the ability to affect the world's oil markets is something that everyone needs to contemplate with a great degree of clarity."'
Regarding an air and/or ground war with Iran, Seymour Hersh writes: 'The Israeli plan [to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon], according to the former senior intelligence official, was “the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.” (The initial U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran's nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian infrastructure targets inside Iran, have been resisted by the top leadership of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, according to current and former officials. They argue that the Air Force plan will not work and will inevitably lead, as in the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to the insertion of troops on the ground.)'.
Israel's defeat at the hands of Hezbollah might serve as a warning to the U.S. not to start a war against Iran: 'Cheney's point, the former senior intelligence official said, was “What if the Israelis execute their part of this first, and it's really successful? It'd be great. We can learn what to do in Iran by watching what the Israelis do in Lebanon.” [...] The surprising strength of Hezbollah's resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, “is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back.” Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. “There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,” he said. “When the smoke clears, they'll say it was a success, and they'll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.”'

U.S. rejects offers for peace negotiations
Time Magazine writes in the article What Would War Look Like?: '[...] from the State Department to the White House to the highest reaches of the military command, there is a growing sense that a showdown with Iran [...] may be impossible to avoid. [...] The fact that all sides would risk losing so much in armed conflict doesn't mean they won't stumble into one anyway. And for all the good arguments against any war now, much less this one, there are just as many indications that a genuine, eyeball-to-eyeball crisis between the U.S. and Iran may be looming, and sooner than many realize. "At the moment," says Ali Ansari, a top Iran authority at London's Chatham House, a foreign-policy think tank, "we are headed for conflict."'
Events could have nonetheless taken quite a different path, writes The Washington Post: 'Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.' The American government chose not to take them up on the offer; 'the Iranian approach was swiftly rejected because in the administration "the bias was toward a policy of regime change"', according to 'Richard N. Haass, head of policy planning at the State Department at the time and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations. [...] The incident "strengthened the hands of those in Iran who believe the only way to compel the United States to talk or deal with Iran is not by sending peace offers but by being a nuisance," [Trita] Parsi ['a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace'] said.'
A similar offer was made to the U.S. just prior to the Iraq war, writes investigative journalist James Risen in The New York Times: 'As American soldiers massed on the Iraqi border in March [2003] and diplomats argued about war, an influential adviser to the Pentagon received a secret message from a Lebanese-American businessman: Saddam Hussein wanted to make a deal. [...] Iraq would make deals to avoid war, including helping in the Mideast peace process. "He said, if this is about oil, we will talk about U.S. oil concessions," Mr. Hage recalled. "If it is about the peace process, then we can talk. If this is about weapons of mass destruction, let the Americans send over their people. There are no weapons of mass destruction."'
Not only were all offers of assistance from the Iranians spurned, but an attack on Iran was being fervently pushed for - secretly and illegally. In an article for the July 2006 edition of Rolling Stone, investigative author James Bamford writes: 'At the very moment that American forces were massing for an invasion of Iraq, there were indications that a rogue group of senior Pentagon officials were already conspiring to push the United States into another war—this time with Iran. [...] War with Iran has been in the works for the past five years, shaped in almost complete secrecy by a small group of senior Pentagon officials attached to the Office of Special Plans.' Read more about the OSP in this article from DeepJournal. An example taken from Bamford's article: 'Unable to win the internal battle over Iran being waged within the administration, a member [of the OSP] was effectively resorting to treason, recruiting AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] to use its enormous influence to pressure the president into adopting the draft directive and wage war against Iran [...]; the document called, in essence, for regime change in Iran.'
In the past the U.S. has been none too timid when it came to negotiating with the Iranians. Some are fearing an October Surprise that will coincide with the upcoming American elections. The first October Surprise took place in October of 1980, stemming from negotiations between the Iranian regime and Ronald Reagan's campaign team, or to be specific - George Bush, the father of the current president. Read all about it in this article that I wrote for Esquire.

Huge consequences from attack on Iran
Time Magazine poses the question: 'So what would it look like? Interviews with dozens of experts and government officials in Washington, Tehran and elsewhere in the Middle East paint a sobering picture: military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would have a decent chance of succeeding, but at a staggering cost.' '[...] "the Iranians have many more options than we do: They can activate Hezbollah; they can organize riots all over the Islamic world, including Pakistan, which could bring down the Musharraf government, putting nuclear weapons into terrorist hands; they can encourage the Shia militias in Iraq to attack US troops; they can blow up oil pipelines and shut the Persian Gulf", according to Sam Gardiner. For more on this topic please refer to other sections of this DeepJournal series - among them part 10 under the headings Attack on Iran will lead to catastrophe in Middle-East and Iran could strike back by way of asymmetric warfare.
In an article by Seymour Hersh, 'Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush's first term' also had a word of warning concerning the recent war against Hezbollah: '“If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can't pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”'
Underlying the tight-knit cooperation between the U.S. and Israel during the recent attacks on Hezbollah - which among other things resulted in the U.S. supplying the Israelis with both NSA intelligence and cluster bombs - was the relative U.S. desire to wear down Hezbollah in preference to an impending attack by the U.S. on Iran: '“The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran's nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. [...]”, says 'a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments' to journalist Seymour Hersh.

Media offensive part of military offensive
One component of the preparations for a possible attack on Iran is the media offensive - 'The administration also has launched a $75 million program to advance democracy in Iran by expanding broadcasting into the country, funding nongovernmental organizations and promoting cultural exchanges. Voice of America broadcasts one hour a day into Iran; by April, that will grow to four hours a day, and the administration plans to go to 24 hours a day. But the administration suffered a setback last week when lawmakers slashed $19 million, mainly from broadcast operations', reports The Washington Post. That loss could be absorbed by the 15 million euros that The Netherlands has earmarked for 'the promotion of diversity in the Iranian media'. 'The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted a subsidy to an American neoconservative organization for a program which must effect peaceful regime change in Iran. The organization Freedom House, which supported the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, received approximately 630,000 euros from the Dutch government this year, the director of the organization confirmed', reports NRC Handelsblad on September 16th, adding: 'The Netherlands and the United States are the only countries in the world that have openly budgeted funds for the advancement of political change in Iran. [...] At the time that the American organization requested the grant, Freedom House was headed up by ex-CIA director James Woolsey, who has backed calls for regime change in Iran.'
Investigative journalist Jim Lobe reveals that 'A story authored by a prominent U.S. neo-conservative regarding new legislation in Iran allegedly requiring Jews and other religious minorities to wear distinctive colour badges circulated around the world this weekend before it was exposed as false. [...] Juan Cole, president of the U.S. Middle East Studies Association (MESA), described the Taheri article and its appearance first in Canada's Post as "typical of black psychological operations campaigns", particularly in its origin in an "out of the way newspaper that is then picked up by the mainstream press" - in this case, the Jerusalem Post and the New York Post. A former U.S. intelligence official described the article's relatively obscure provenance as a "real sign of (a) disinformation operation".' An otherwise legitimate, but albeit these days rather conspicuous programming decision, was the one that was made to broadcast the documentary Execution of a Teenage Girl this past Sunday evening on Belgian television. It's the story of a 16 year-old girl who was hanged in 2004 after being accused of committing adultery.

Uncertainty over fate of Iran
Jim Lobe writes in a recent article about the confusion he is detecting concerning the fate of Iran: 'If you're feeling increasingly confused about whether the administration of President George W. Bush is determined to go to war with Iran or whether it is instead truly committed to a diplomatic process with its European allies to reach some kind of modus vivendi, you're not alone.' Drawing on many relevant sources, he makes it clear that he in no way sees it as a forgone conclusion that Iran is either going to be attacked or not. He quotes 'Fred Kaplan, the national-security correspondent for Slate', who writes: '"It's possible, in other words, that the administration is playing both approaches -- mobilising as a tool of diplomatic pressure and mobilising as an act of impending warfare -- not as a coordinated strategy but as parallel actions, each of which will follow its inexorable course."'
Both Michael Hirsh (How to Avoid War - Nixon went to China. Now Bush must break out of the box on Iran) and Fareed Zakaria (What Iranians Least Expect - What if Bush publicly offered to open an embassy in Tehran?) are of the opinion that it would be wise for Bush to draw inspiration from American overtures made during the 1960's that were designed to address the strained relations between the U.S. and China. Zakaria: 'Iran's hard-liners don't want good relations with the United States. Iranians have been taught for a generation now that Washington hates them, doesn't want relations with their country and tries to isolate them in the world. What if President Bush publicly offered to open an embassy in Tehran and begin student exchanges with young Iranians? In a country that is yearning for contact with the outside world, it might put the mullahs on the defensive.'


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