Thursday, February 22, 2007

Iran: Are We on the Edge of the Cliff?

It has occurred to me that there may be a second reason (in addition to political grandstanding) for the Bush “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq. What if the U.S. administration anticipates attacking Iran in the near term? Wouldn’t it make sense to bolster U.S. forces in Iraq, whose border with Iran was the site of fierce warfare in the past?

Perhaps the American government anticipates nothing beyond an air attack on Iran, but in war the unexpected always happens. I can picture Iranian ground forces rolling into Iraq if the U.S. attacks Iran. American troops and helicopters already mired down in their struggle against the Iraqi resistance would face all-out war on an eastern front. Let us hope that sanity prevails, and that neither the U.S. nor Israel attacks Iran, but in addition to building up its naval forces in the area, the U.S. government is also building up its troop strength in Iraq.

This post is going to be choppy, but I want to include several recent reports concerning Iran, all relevant but presented without any particular continuity.

The following report may or may not be accurate – or its release may have been psychological warfare -- but the facts have been published in several places. :

“American military operations for a major conventional war with Iran could be implemented any day. They extend far beyond targeting suspect WMD facilities and will enable President Bush to destroy Iran's military, political and economic infrastructure overnight using conventional weapons.

“British military sources told the New Statesman, on condition of anonymity, that "the US military switched its whole focus to Iran" as soon as Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Baghdad. It continued this strategy, even though it had American infantry bogged down in fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

“The US army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for "Operation Iranian Freedom". Admiral Fallon, the new head of US Central Command, has inherited computerised plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).”

From another report: The BBC said that Bush has ordered plans for air strikes to disable Iran’s entire military structure. Senior officials in Washington have pinpointed targets including missile bases, command and control centres and air defences. Action would also be triggered if Tehran is close to developing nuclear weapons. Four nuclear sites would also be hit. US military strategists claimed the air attacks could be carried out without affecting ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some 30 US warships are already in the Gulf.

A presidential candidate makes the mistake of implying Israel could cause a problem -- from Peter Bart's column on Senator John Edwards' comments in Hollywood:

“The aggressively photogenic Senator John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes [to a Hollywood gathering] last week until, during question time, he invoked the "I" word — Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. As a chill descended on the gathering, the Edwards event was brought to a polite close.”

There went Hollywood, Candidate Edwards.

Meanwhile, a delegation of more savvy American senators arrived in Israel this week. The senators are members of a joint Senate-Knesset committee (can you imagine such a thing in America?) headed by Senator Jon Kyl, who is close to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The cozy get-together is described in the “Jerusalem Post” (Feb. 20). Note especially the reference to Iran.

“Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) said Monday as he led a bicameral delegation from the United States to discuss security issues with Knesset members. ‘In all of the years that I have been coming to Israel, one thing stands out to me above all others as crucial to the security of this country - and that is the need to deal with Iran,’ Kyl told The Jerusalem Post. The senator, who has a close relationship with Bush, serves as head of the US-Israel Joint Parliamentary Committee on National Security with MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud)."

Senator Kyl Prays

Though Iran is years away from creating a destructive nuclear device, even assuming it intends to work toward creating one, Israel constantly uses as an excuse for a threatened "preemptive" nuclear strike on Iran a statement attributed to its president that “Israel should be wiped off the map.” Here is some very instructive information from the author of the blog “Not the Country Club” (see my Links), who has published lengthy translations of the Iranian president’s statements:

“One of the weapons that Ahmadinejad's enemies have resorted to has been to mistranslate his statements. Incredible as it may seem, he never said "Israel should be wiped off the map." For one thing, the phrase "wipe off the map" does not exist in Farsi. What he in fact said was this: "The regime that occupies Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." This was a quotation from the Ayatollah Khomeini. As Ahmadinejad himself explained, what he meant was that he hopes some day there will be a new system of government in Israel/Palestine, the same way that a new system replaced the old Soviet government.”

I’m going to conclude with quotations from “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” (Feb. 19). MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER HEAD, CIA BIN LADEN UNIT, was speaking of the lack of justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and of the pointlessness of antagonizing Iran:

“Well, this administration, sir, seems to be afraid of almost anything that moves. And certainly Iraq was a containable country. The Iranians are no threat to the United States unless we provoke them. They may be a threat to the Israelis. They‘re not a threat to the United States.

“The threat to the United States, inside the United States, comes from al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you want to address the threat to America, that‘s where it is.”

If every American would heed and remember these words, thousands of Americans and Iranians will be living normal lives in the years to come rather than perishing in another Bush/Israel-built meat grinder:

“Iranians are no threat to the United States unless we provoke them. They may be a threat to the Israelis. They‘re not a threat to the United States.”

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