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27 May 2008

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Sven Ortmann

Someday we'll wake up and it's all over.
No more Neocons with power, no more Iraq Civil War with Western troops involved, no more Afghan Civil War with Western troops involved...

Some weeks later we might actually begin to do something about our own, real, domestic problems.

Mongoose

If it's a stupid idea that causes enormous suffering, further isolates and weakens the US, then you can bank on Shrub/Darth Vader doing the deed. Attacking Iran meets all these pre-established criteria, thus Shrub will attack. He must fulfill his destiny. To hell with US strategic interests, to hell with prudent diplomacy, to hell with the comity of nations. Shrub needs to blow things up so that he can remind us how tough he really is. I'm sure the Iranians will learn their lesson and slink away, never to be heard from again.

b

"former assistant secretary of state"

Armitage?

Andrew Kitz

Col. Lang

It seems to me that if we are going to somehow justify attacks on the IRGC, can we the public please undertake to construct a comprehensive conception of our adversary? Could you perhaps speak to claims that the IRGC is determined to "spread the revolution"? This is still a common fear (and a convenient causus bellus) among even some more or less "informed" observers. Iranian leaders, post-Khomeini, have repeatedly disavowed any continued intent to do so, having learned the attendant difficulties in such a costly manner in the 80s. Deeper analysis also suggests that the IRGC is a bureaucratic institution whose raison d'etre stems not primarily from its ideology, but from its utility as a military/industrial money-making machine that lines the coffers of regime and IRGC elites. Also, much beyond its ideology, it is simply the most reliable national defense asset for the clerical regime. Any elaboration would be most informative and welcome. Thanks

kao-hsien-chih

It's kind of off topic, but the byline in the Asia Times article is a real kicker, given the topic in question!

Leila Abu-Saba

In fact I am going to pray to exactly the One you name to save us all from more war. Somebody's been praying for Lebanon, that's going all right so far. At this point, human reason and rational argument have made no dent.

One Who has all power can heal all wounds and mend all that is broken. All of you who pray, get on it.

jon

If true, an attack on Iran will lead to terrible calamity in the Middle East. Ultimately, it would harm the US and Israel, make it far more difficult for the US to have a diplomatic and military presence in the region, an likely reduce the US' ability to purchase oil at any price, and spike prices far higher than they are now. What's not to love?

Domestically, this may provide some short term advantage to Bush, and to McCain's campaign. The electorate tends to rally behind the government and the more bellicose party when faced with threats and wars.

As a tactic, this might backfire, as the country is fed up with Bush and the war. Unprovoked and unwarranted military attacks on Iran could lead to Pat Buchanan's polity rising up with torches and pitchforks against Republicans and the military, and all those who enabled, supported and failed to prevent such rash and destructive behavior. Maybe they think they have nothing left to lose. Maybe Dick Cheney never had any intention of vacating the Naval Observatory, much less his secure, nondisclosed location he seems to have grown so fond of. I do have my worries about what might be tucked away in those Continuity of Government plans.

But seeing the flag attacked, US forces under strain and taking moderate losses, might swing enough people to McCain. He has the military background, and has suggested a propensity to apply force. An attack would upstage the conventions and skewcoverage and outcomes of those events, and completely alter the character of the presidential campaign leading to the election.

Of course, these stories about attacking Iran come with remarkable frequency. And aside from some low level looking around, picking off a few officers, blowing up the odd mosque, and enabling a couple of ragtag terrorist groups, not much has come of it, so far.

The suggestion that Iran is working closely with the Taliban sounds extremely unlikely. If the rest of the article's sourcing is no better, there may be little to their main claim. Given that Iran nearly invaded Afghanistan over the prior activities of the Taliban, I would think that any assistance would be relatively discrete and low level, and unlikely to materially improve Taliban operations.

It is interesting to ponder what Iran's response to these threats or potential attacks might be. Certainly they don't want to see their entire infrastructure to go the same way as Iraq's and Serbia's. I imagine that they're realistic enough to know that they could not win a full dress war, or a head on contest between militaries. They might decide to weather the blows, and reap the benefits of world opinion. It might also clear the way for them to actually develop a nuclear weapon.

I would also imagine that in any hostilities, no Navy vessel in or near the Persian Gulf would be out of harms way. I would also expect Iran to act through various proxies, such as SIIC, perhaps the Mahdi Army, perhaps Hebollah. US ground troops in Iraq might only find respite in the fastness of Anbar's deserts, or in Kurdish redoubts.

Oil lifting in Saudi Arabia might also become touchy, due to their Shia becoming riled. And we might well lose our welcome in Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and other points.

Iran certainly wouldn't surrender. Ahmadinejad and hardline mullahs would be empowered.

I really can't see what the strategic or long term upside for the US might be. And all because Iran might be withholding some unspecified documents relating to uranium processing and refining?

Duncan Kinder

This YouTube video shows that McCain has been using the phrase, "Never Surrender" to evoke a Churchillian aura, with which he identifies.

He combines this with images of Theodore Roosevelt as well as of his captivity in Iraq.

The overall thrust is that of gritty courage in the face of overwhelming force.

Going to to any length to achieve energy independence would make some sense, within this Churchillian theme.

But Iraq? All I can make sense of is that he believes that we cannot retreat and must endure. Sometimes, on other blogs, I have described Iraq as a "No Exit" scenario and signed myself, "John Paul Satre." Subconsciously, this must be what McCain thinks.

Except he thinks that, through grit, we shall prevail.

I wish that were true.

Walrus

Col. Lang

On 26 September 1983 off Newport, Rhode Island, the Twelve metre yacht "Australia II" passed "Liberty" at the leeward mark in the last race. She had only to beat Liberty to the upwind finish line to win the series and take the America's Cup off the New York Yacht Club's trophy shelf where it had remained since 1851.

Now on that last upwind leg, Dennis Conner, skipper of Liberty, knew there was no way he had the speed to catch Australia II. The one thing he could do was to tack (alter course) as fast and as often as he could in the vain hope that Australia II would break some gear as it covered his moves.

I think that's what we are witnessing right now. We have a "let's throw all the pieces in the air and maybe they will come down in our favor" moment.

It is no accident that following visits to the ME by Rice and Cheney, Siniora suddenly decided to provoke Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is no accident that Maliki suddenly decided to get tough with the Sadrists first in Basra and now in Sadr City. These are not accidents, but deliberate attempts by desperate men to elicit reactions which might hopefully be turned to America's and Israel's favor.

I note in passing that the new Lebanese President has already been "invited" to Washington, where he will no doubt be alternatively bribed and threatened into support yet more fighting against Hezbollah. Fat chance!

As far as I can tell there are only two ways left that Bush can try to provoke a reaction (ie "throw the pieces in the air") that might possibly lead to America's advantage if his opponents blink.

These are attacks either on Syria or Iran with the intention of provoking a response that "might" be able to be turned to our benefit.

Of course the downside of this occurs if none of the Neocon / Israeli allegations about Iran and Syria are true.

Suppose Iran has not been actively supplying IED's, training and munitions to Iraqi militias, what if they start?

Suppose Iran has not been secretly rearming and encouraging Hezbollah in Lebanon, what if they start?

We are told that Iran's Chinese cruise missiles are no match for American defence technology. What if they are?

When I think Of President Bush, I keep thinking of the quote about Phillip II of Spain; "No experience of the failure of his strategy could shake his belief in it's essential excellence."

J

Colonel,

sadly it appears that bush-cheney are intent on more americans dying on the altar of israeli sacrifice. funny i don't ever remember reading in either our bill of rights or our constitution where we americans were supposed to be israel's sacrifical lambs, do you?

a strike on iran has 'nuthin' to do with protecting the u.s., it has everything to do with doing israel's dirty work for them, even though israel has stabbed our nation in the back so many times it's a wonder that we can still hold fluid when we walk for all of israel's back stabbing wounds on u.s..

it would be great if cjcs mullen would exercise his constitutional responsibility and just say 'no' to bush-cheney, and making sure all-the-while that stratcom's cc doesn't become the pliable bush-cheney yes-man stick figure. one can 'hope' anyway.

JohnH

History will judge Bush (and possibly Bush/Mccain) legacy as a failure, in part because they totally mismanaged energy futures.

Iraq was Bush's energy strategy. He had no Plan B. Instead he insisted on doubling down after each setback, first in Iraq, then Iran.

Knowing what he knew in 2000, when he promised to convince OPEC to open its spiggots, he could have hedged his bets by promoting rapid transit, high speed rail, research into ultra-lite cars, conservation, etc.

But no, it was Iraq-Iran or bust.

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air over Iran will be the sights and sounds of Bush's strategy going bust, with America waking up bewildered at their devastated economy the morning after.

Neither will history will judge those "good American" Congressmen and Senators who blithely followed Bush to Armageddon without ever seriously considering impeachment and removal.

J

Colonel,

so your readers know, the iran safeguards report sent to the u.n. security council by the iaea, is now being circulated at the u.n. security council's request
http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/IaeaIran/unsc_res1803-2008.pdf

the nytimes article yesterday [ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/27/world/middleeast/27iran.html?em&ex=1212033600&en=3cf74493ed3f24d8&ei=5087%0A ] is full of inaccuracies and bush-world propaganda.

wisedup

interesting defense ploy?
Bloomberg
The article mentions only 10 tankers being used by Iran to store crude -- a rather effective attack deterrence?
But the below quote indicates a shortfall of 38 tankers.

"Iran's use of ships for storage cut the supply of available supertankers, owned by companies including Hamilton, Bermuda- based Frontline Ltd. and Euronav NV, based in Antwerp, Belgium. The number of double-hull very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, available to rent within the next 30 days dropped to 21 from 59 a month ago, according to Paris-based broker Barry Rogliano Salles."

Rick

Col. Lang....

I fully expect the Cheney/Bush Junta to attack Iran in the run up to the November election - for political, not military, effect. Their whole future may depend upon McCain becoming POTUS #44. Their years of incompetence, illegality and corruption will only pass unexplored into history if Republicans remain in control of the Executive Branch. Wag the Dog. If McCain loses, they are in legal, moral and historical jeopardy.

Green Zone Cafe

I can't really believe that such an insane act will be done. It would be the final break from international norms and American tradition, waging aggressive war and setting the world on fire.

If it happens, there will be some hairy times in Iraq. All those Quds force cells will go active and all the Special Groups will join them. Probably Badr, too, and you might see Iraqi regular forces attacking us. Fajr missiles hitting FOBs and the IZ. Glad I'm not there now.

For what it's worth, I think it would hurt McCain. At a minimum, the oil price rise would croak him. The American people, most especially its military families, are not going to fall for this production of cable news. We're tired.

Mark K Logan

The article cites a rational of needing to "punish" the Quds for their interference in Iraq.
But to me it appears that the Quds have played a key role in reining in Sadr.
It seems unlikely that role went entirely unappreciated by Petraeus.

Is it possible the author is not up to speed on events? I would like to believe that.

Mad Dogs

As the clock runs out on this Administration's psychopathy, it can hardly come as a surprise that they would again paint the rest of us further into a corner than we already are.

This Administration's unspoken strategic agenda has been to continually
limit our choices in this world.

The fait accompli to be presented to our next government is as follows:

1. Iraq - Screwed if you leave, screwed if you stay.

2. Military Commissions for GTMO Detainees - Screwed if you try them, screwed if you don't.

3. War Crimes Trials for Torture - Screwed if you try Bush and Cheney et al, screwed if you don't.

4. Shutdown Warrantless Surveillance Programs - Screwed if you try, screwed if you don't.

5. And now with an attack on Iran - Screwed if you're against it, screwed if you're for it.

The Republicans under Bush and Cheney have discovered their own psychopathic "Golden Rule":

Heads we win, tails you lose!

robt willmann

The purported name of the referenced article's author is--as pointed out by kao-hsien-chih above--just about 100% funny!

Nearly as humorous is the effort by "Muhammad Cohen" to identify his "anonymous" source.

The source is described as--

1. A retired
2. U.S. career diplomat
3. Former assistant secretary of state
4. Still active in the foreign affairs community

[and later in the article]

5. An ambassador
6. During the administration of President Bush Sr.

My first guess at the "source" was Lawrence Eagleburger, who fits the description to a "T" except that he was an ambassador for Jimmy Carter and not during the Bush Sr administration, according to published descriptions of his career.

http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/40402.htm

http://www.harrywalker.com/speakers_template.cfm?Spea_ID=100

Mr. Muhammad Cohen, who describes himself as a "former broadcast news producer" and "U.S. diplomat", then discloses the names of two U.S. Senators who planned to write an op-ed article for the New York Times newspaper (that has not yet appeared) expressing their opposition to the military strikes on Iran, about which they had received "secret briefings". They are Senators Richard Lugar and Diane Feinstein.

If the Asia Times article is serious, it represents another effort to slow the train down. But neither Lugar nor Feinstein are in the House of Representatives, where impeachment proceedings must begin, and we have not yet heard protestations from either of them, nor, to my knowledge, have they voted against continued full-bore Iraq War funding.

Meanwhile, ElBaradei has submitted a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and the UN Security Council, but its "circulation is restricted" and it will not be released to the public unless the IAEA board decides otherwise.

http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2008/iranreport0508.html

Predictably, the New York Times newspaper saw a copy of the report, but failed to publish it on the Internet or on paper. Instead, we get the Times' biased article.

The political conventions are in late August for the Democrats and in the first week of September for the Republicans. An attack on Iran in June, July, or early August would fit that timetable.

Rather than slowing the train down for an attack on Iran, the hapless Congress has, by its inactivity, been left on the platform, helplessly staring at the departing train.

Will

"Muhammad Cohen "

yes, indeedy,
very interesting byline, but apparently a real author.

rc thweatt

Now we know why W insists on continuing to fill the strategic petroleum reserve, in the teeth of record prices- he figures he's going to need it. Not that it will actually help; the Iranians won't even have to retaliate, NYMEX will do it for them. The oil traders will freak so bad that mass medical intervention will be required. Bush & Cheney might reflect that what's left of "the Base" isn't likely to live near public transport or drive Priuses, nor will the 'have-mores' care for financial chaos.

If the Iranians do retaliate, and don't do it piecemeal, the scenarios get pretty frightful-the Millenium Challange exercise for example; what do Bush and Cheney want to do, make Nancy Pelosi President?

Such an order, even with Kyl-Lieberman,would be, at least arguably, illegal; the chain of command might consider that following said order,with its potentially dire consequences,coming from the lamest of lame ducks, could look pretty foolish in a few months.

And aren't we running operations inside Iran?

anna missed

I might suggest you change that Mark Rothko painting above with a more fitting one, like say his "Black on Blue". To go with all the implications said above. He did after all commit suicide at the height of his career, or is that it?

Dana Jones

"interesting defense ploy?
Bloomberg
The article mentions only 10 tankers being used by Iran to store crude -- a rather effective attack deterrence?
But the below quote indicates a shortfall of 38 tankers."

Interesting indeed. Looks like they are holding a significant part of the tanker fleet hostage. Just think what will happen to world oil prices if we attack them and they sink those tankers, blaming our hot-shot fly-boys for it. The transport cost for oil will skyrocket. Who's got dibs on the remaining boats? If its not us, we be in deep doo-doo.

BTW: Just what is the transit time between the Gulf & the Gulf?

Leila Abu-Saba

Background on Muhammad Cohen, born Eliot Cohen:

http://www.jewishtimesasia.org/content/view/100/45/

it's all self-reported. He married a Muslim Indonesian woman in an Islamic ceremony. He claims they were only concerned that he was circumcised. It's my understanding that Muslim women are not allowed to "marry out" and he would have had to convert. All it takes is saying "I witness that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is His messenger" 3x in front of a witness. (Two witnesses? It's been a long time since I took Islam: Beliefs and Institutions)

I know a journalist in Cairo who converted to Islam when he married his Egyptian wife. I have no idea if he "believes" or not. Doesn't really matter.

Clifford Kiracofe

McCain obessing over Iran is nothing new.

Speculating on the timing of a Cheney-Bush attack on Iran, wouldn't October be logical? This way the White House creates a "spike" in public opinion to usher McCain to victory at the polls.

McCain's wild language is in line with the man I saw in the Senate of the United States...highly unstable, problems with anger management, and etc. A staff buddy (Vietnam vet/Marine Corps and other federal service) of mine used to call him the "Manchurian Candidate" ...this was back in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, the United States international position has disintegrated over the past 8 years.

Says Rami Khoury:
"So we now have a rare moment in the Middle East. Iran, Turkey, all the Arabs, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Israel all share one and only one common trait: They routinely ignore the advice, and the occasional threats, they get from Washington. Rice was correct in summer 2006 when she said we are witnessing the birth pangs of a new Middle East. But the emerging new regional configuration is very different from the one she fantasized about ....
When Hezbollah and its erstwhile foes exchange kisses, a befuddled Condoleezza Rice should take care not to fall off her exercise bicycle.....

Now that we have a draw in the broad ideological confrontation throughout the Middle East that pits Israeli-Americanism against Arab-Islamo nationalism, we should expect the players to reconsider their policies if they wish to make new gains on both sides...."
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/26/opinion/edkhouri.php

For McCain's "Scoop" Jackson style Zionism refer to his 2006 speech to the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs where he was awarded a "Scoop" Jackson award:

"Tehran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons clearly poses an unacceptable risk. Protected by a nuclear deterrent, Iran would feel unconstrained to sponsor terrorist attacks against any perceived enemy. Its flouting of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would render that regime obsolete, and could induce Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others to reassess their defense posture and arsenals. The world would live, indefinitely, with the possibility that Tehran might pass nuclear materials or weapons to one of its allied terrorist networks. And coupled with its ballistic missile arsenal, an Iranian nuclear bomb would pose an existential threat to the State of Israel."...
http://www.jinsa.org/articles/print.html/documentid/3636

It is realistic to posit a McCain victory and four more years (at least) of disastrous Ziocon foreign policy. Under such circumstances, the US will inexorably be further isolated in the emerging multipolar world.

Patrick Lang

AM

Yes. That is his molten core. pl

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