Robert Parry: Iran clock is ticking
Posted by uscsjp on February 1, 2007
While congressional Democrats test how far they should go in challenging George W. Bush’s war powers, the time may be running out to stop Bush from ordering a major escalation of the Middle East conflict by attacking Iran.
Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region – and for a propaganda blitz to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home.
One well-informed U.S. military source called me in a fury after consulting with Pentagon associates and discovering how far along the war preparations are. He said the plans call for extensive aerial attacks on Iran, including use of powerful bunker-busting ordnance.
Another source with a pipeline into Israeli thinking said the Iran war plan has expanded over the past several weeks. Earlier thinking had been that Israeli warplanes would hit Iranian nuclear targets with U.S. forces in reserve in case of Iranian retaliation, but now the strategy anticipates a major U.S. military follow-up to an Israeli attack, the source said.
Both sources used the same word “crazy” in describing the plan to expand the war to Iran. The two sources, like others I have interviewed, said that attacking Iran could touch off a regional – and possibly global – conflagration.
“It will be like the TV show ‘24’,” the American military source said, citing the likelihood of Islamic retaliation reaching directly into the United States.
Though Bush insists that no decision has been made on attacking Iran, he offered similar assurances of his commitment to peace in the months before invading Iraq in 2003. Yet leaked documents from London made clear that he had set a course for war nine months to a year before the Iraq invasion.
In other words, Bush’s statements that he has no plans to “invade” Iran and that he’s still committed to settle differences with Iran over its nuclear program diplomatically should be taken with a grain of salt.
There is, of course, the possibility that the war preparations are a game of chicken to pressure Iran to accept outside controls on its nuclear program and to trim back its regional ambitions. But sometimes such high-stakes gambles lead to miscalculations or set in motion dynamics that can’t be controlled.