- Peace Garden: Expanding the conflict to Iran

Expanding the conflict to Iran

Monday, October 01, 2007

Seymour Hersh has noted that there is a change in the strategy towards Iran.

This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.
The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.
During a secure videoconference that took place early this summer, the President told Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, that he was thinking of hitting Iranian targets across the border and that the British “were on board.” At that point, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice interjected that there was a need to proceed carefully, because of the ongoing diplomatic track. Bush ended by instructing Crocker to tell Iran to stop interfering in Iraq or it would face American retribution.
At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq.
So how is the plan going? Quite well if you ask some - those who are doing the finger-pointing.
The US military in Iraq said Sunday it had seized sophisticated Iranian-made surface-to-air missiles that were being used by insurgents in the war-torn country. Several Misagh-1s have been found in different locations, the military said, although it stopped short of saying the use of the weapons represented an escalation of Iranian activity in Iraq. "We've said that we've found these things, we've seen them employed. That's significant in it's own right," US military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox told reporters in Baghdad.
Will the American public and Congress fall for it? Most did in regard to Iraq - sorry to say.

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