Fri Jan 12th, 2007 at 04:59:50 PM EST
There are a number of good pieces today pointing out that the real import of Bush's speech last Wednesday is that it is a further indication that the US is making preparations for an attack on Iran. Needless to say, such an attack would be disastrous not just for the Middle East and the US, but for Europe as well, if only because of the disruptions to oil supply that would be produced.
William Lind's articles often appear on Counterpunch, althhough he is not a lefty, but an old-school conservative and someone with a lot of military experience.
[I]f we look at the President's proposal ... carefully, we find it actually amounts to less than zero. It hints at actions that may turn a mere debacle into disaster on a truly historic scale.
First, Mr. Bush said that previous efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two reasons, the second of which is that "there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have." This suggests the new "big push" will be even more kinetic that what we have done in the past, calling in more firepower -- airstrikes, tanks, artillery, etc. -- in Baghdad itself. Chuck Spinney has already warned that we may soon begin to reduce Baghdad to rubble. If we do, and the President's words suggest we will, we will hasten our defeat. In this kind of war, unless you are going to take the "Hama model" and kill everyone, success comes from de-escalation, not from escalation.
Second, the President not only upped the ante with Syria and Iran, he announced two actions that only make sense if we plan to attack Iran, Syria or both. He said he has ordered Patriot missile batteries and another U.S. Navy aircraft carrier be sent to the region. Neither has any conceivable role in the fighting in Iraq. However, a carrier would provide additional aircraft for airstrikes on Iran, and Patriot batteries would in theory provide some defense against Iranian air and missile attacks launched at Gulf State oil facilities in retaliation.
To top it off, in questioning yesterday on Capitol Hill, the Tea Lady, aka Secretary of State Rice, refused to promise the administration would consult with Congress before attacking Iran or Syria.
As I have said before and will say again, the price of an attack on Iran could easily be the loss of the army we have in Iraq. No conceivable action would be more foolish than adding war with Iran to the war we have already lost in Iraq. Regrettably, it is impossible to read Mr. Bush's dispatch of a carrier and Patriot batteries any other way than as harbingers of just such an action. (Less Than Zero )
If the US and/or Israel launched a "pre-emptive" attack on Iran, Iraq's Shiites would certainly abandon their tactical cooperation with US occupying forces and switch to insurgency mode. Worse than that however, they very possibly would have the capability of cutting of US supply lines. That is what would lead to the loss of the US army in Iraq. (Furthermore, there is the issue that Iran is rumored to possess Russian Moskit anti-ship cruse missiles, which are designed to be too fast for Aeigis anti-missille ships to be able to intercept (The Missiles of August
Paul Craig Roberts, who also writes on Counterpunch and is also a "real" conservative, has been one of Bush's most vociferous critics, having long ago called for impeachment. (He was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and still believes in supply side economics!)
[In his speech,] Bush states perfectly clearly that victory in Iraq requires US forces to attack Iran and Syria. Moreover, Bush says, "We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region."
What do two US aircraft carrier attack groups in the Persian Gulf have to do with a guerilla ground war in Iraq?
The "surge" is merely a tactic to buy time while war with Iran and Syria can be orchestrated. The neoconservative/Israeli cabal feared that the pressure that Congress, the public, and the American foreign policy establishment were putting on Bush to de-escalate in Iraq would terminate their plan to achieve hegemony in the Middle East.
Failure in Iraq would mean the end of the neoconservatives' influence. It would be impossible to start a new war with Iran after losing the war in Iraq.
The neoconservatives and the right-wing Israeli government have clearly stated their plans to overthrow Muslim governments throughout the region and to deracinate Islam. These plans existed long before 9/11....
It is extraordinary that anyone can listen to this blatant declaration of US aggression in the Middle East without demanding Bush's immediate impeachment. (Surge and Mirrors)
Two recent appointments provide further evidence that Bush, as much under neocon influence as ever, has big plans for Iran:
On Jan. 4, Bush ousted the top two commanders in the Middle East, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, who had opposed a military escalation in Iraq. Bush also removed Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, who had stood by intelligence estimates downplaying the near-term threat from Iran's nuclear program.
Bush appointed Admiral William Fallon as the new chief of Central Command for the Middle East despite the fact that Fallon, a former Navy aviator and currently head of the Pacific Command, will oversee two ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The choice of Fallon makes more sense if Bush foresees a bigger role for two aircraft carrier groups off Iran's coast.
Though not considered a Middle East expert, Fallon has moved in neoconservative circles, for instance, attending a 2001 awards ceremony at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a think tank dedicated to explaining "the link between American defense policy and the security of Israel."
Bush also shifted Negroponte from his Cabinet-level position as DNI to a sub-Cabinet post as deputy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. To replace Negroponte, Bush nominated Navy retired Vice Admiral John "Mike" McConnell, who is viewed by intelligence professionals as a low-profile technocrat, not a strong independent figure.
McConnell is seen as far more likely than Negroponte to give the administration an alarming assessment of Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions in an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate. To the consternation of neoconservatives, Negroponte has splashed cold water on their heated rhetoric about the imminent threat from Iran. (The U.S.-Iran-Iraq-Israeli-Syrian War)
Up until now, concerns about an impending attack on Iran have been mostly restricted to the blogosphere. But now even journalists working for the corporate media are beginning to smell that something's up:
At a not-for-quotation pre-speech briefing on Jan. 10, George W. Bush and his top national security aides unnerved network anchors and other senior news executives with suggestions that a major confrontation with Iran is looming.
Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush's nationwide address, NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said "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."
Russert and NBC anchor Brian Williams depicted this White House emphasis on Iran as the biggest surprise from the briefing as Bush stepped into the meeting to speak passionately about why he is determined to prevail in the Middle East.
"The President's inference was this: that an entire region would blow up from the inside, the core being Iraq, from the inside out," Williams said, paraphrasing Bush. (The U.S.-Iran-Iraq-Israeli-Syrian War)
The neocons are determined that the only siginificant military power that is going to exist in the Middle East be Israel. To achieve that, Iran needs to be substantially weakend through military means, the way Iraq was. (Which is not to say they are contemplating an invasion—just bombardment. After all, that's all that the US did to Iraq for many years under Clinton, albeit not intensively.) They are operating under a time constraint, since it is highly unlikely that any successor of Bush's could be so easiy manipulated into so overwhelmingly placing Israel's (perceived) interests over America's.
It is unlikely that Congressional Democrats will do anything to reign Bush in, since they are as much in the pocket of the Israel lobby as Bush is. Will Europe simply watch the approaching catastrophe unfold without trying to do anything to stop it?
The US and/or Israel attacking Iran would be a military mistake on the scale of Hitler's decision to invade Russia. But it would be even more insane than Hitler's move. Before Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, he had conquered all of Western Europe, losing only 30,000 men in the process. But in the recent past, the US and Israel have both lost a war: the US in Iraq and Israel in Lebanon. Yet they want to start a new one with a much stronger adversary.
Update [2007-1-13 17:32:26 by Alexander]:
RawStory has a piece on this, with a CNN video of an interview with one John Pike of GlobalSecurity. If you watch the video, you'll see that CNN is taking this very seriously.
"[Bush] also, surprisingly, announced that the United States was going to be deploying Patriot anti-missile interceptors to the region. It's difficult to imagine whose missiles those would be shooting down other than Iran. It's looks to me like the United States is, at least, raising its capabilities in preparation for possible military confrontation with Iran."
Pike provides a time frame in which the U.S. or Israel might first strike Iran, explaining, "I think the month of February is certainly a time of heightened probability. It's very difficult to understand exactly what the thinking is at the White House and in the Israeli government but for sometime now we've been saying that 2007 is probably the time, if there's going to be military action, it's probably going to come this year. Possible as soon as next month. Probably no later that August of this year."
Also, there are several pieces at the Atlantic Free Press, including this one which suggests that Cheney is behind all this: Just Like with Torture, Cheney's Got His Teeth Sunk into Iran.