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5 June 2006  |     mail this article   |     print   |   
This article is part of the series: The coming war against Iran
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The coming war against Iran - Part 10
Positive signs, disturbing facts
By Daan de Wit
Iran has been high on the public and political agenda for some time now. Many observers are considering the possibility of a military confrontation, but accounts are anything but conclusive. Reports have been varying rapidly of late, whereby facts, opinions and suspicions battle it out for attention. Encouraging sounds can be heard, but as of yet the facts seem to indicate only a temporary cooling-off of a conflict that is becoming hotter and hotter.


The Dutch in the original article has been translated into English by Ben Kearney.
Since the beginning of this month there seems again to be some progress in the case of Iran: 'Six world powers agreed on Thursday to offer Iran a new package of incentives if it gives up uranium enrichment, or sanctions if it refuses. The plan could either defuse a global confrontation with the Islamic regime or hasten one', reported CBS News. Still the alleged breakthrough appears to be more of a formality, given that Iran's reaction to this in the coming 'weeks, not months' would seem to be predictable. Iran has the right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and is maintaining that right. While characterizing [WMV] recent developments in negotiations, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton used language that was somewhat less diplomatic: 'This put up or shut up time for Iran'.

Widely varying accounts concerning Iran
There appeared to be something of a thaw in the air with the postponement of the previously-announced Iranian oil bourse, in which oil was to be denominated in euros. Mike Ruppert's well-documented website goes still further to surmise that 'a US attack on Iran is now less likely than ever', because only an Iran undamaged by war can guarantee stability - and so a stable flow of oil - in (a partitioned) Iraq. And in a recent interview with DeepJournal, Iran journalist Eefje Blankevoort was likewise not so quick to predict war: ''Harsh language has been used for a number of years now, but each time it just blows over. I think this is also the case this time. I don't think that the situation is so critical that we can expect a war this summer. It's possible that it could well happen in 6 months, maybe 9 months, but in any case not this summer.'
While these reports are promising, all of the facts layed out in this DeepJournal series regarding the diplomatic and military preparations for a war against Iran can't be swept under the rug. From a recent interview it appears that Ray McGovern, a critic of the Bush administration with 27 years of service as an analyst for the CIA, foresees an attack on Iran either this month or next. He says that such a strike would in all probability take place in response to a false flag attack, organized by the West and then blamed on Iran. '"There is already one carrier task force there in the Gulf, two are steaming toward it at the last report I have at least - they will all be there in another week or so." "The propaganda has been laid, the aircraft carriers are in place, it doesn't take much to fly the bombers out of British and US bases - cruse missiles are at the ready, Israel is egging us on," said McGovern.' McGovern makes allowances for the possibility of an American nuclear attack as well as an asymmetric counterattack by Iran. Contrary to other experts he presumes that there will be an attack before August, because if it were to come any later than that, it would be obvious that the attack was directly related to the American elections in November. '[...] President Bush and his team are focusing on the fall midterm elections as the best chance to salvage his presidency [...]', reports the Washington Post. The newspaper writes that Republicans are pinning their hopes on the election, short of 'some event outside their direct control -- such as a dramatic turnaround in Iraq or the capture of Osama bin Laden -- Bush advisers have turned to the election as the most important chance to rewrite the troubled narrative of his presidency', but perhaps Bush knows something that his advisors don't and will end up with a revamped approval rating, once more putting a Republican in the White House in 2008.

Interactive maps (1, 2) of Iran.

Possible false flag operation against Iran
The low standing in the polls of Bush and the Republican party are a bad sign for anyone who doesn't want to see a war with Iran. And for those who fear that a false flag operation will become the opening volley in the attack, it could not have been good news to hear the recently dismissed British Foreign Minister Jack Straw challenge the legality of any attack not launched in self-defense. The BBC writes: 'Of course, the legality of any attack would be hard to justify. The British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told reporters this week: "I don't happen to believe that military action has a role to play in any event. We could not justify it under Article 51 of the UN charter which permits self defence."' In addition to this, Capitol Hill Blue reports on a secret Republican memorandum: 'The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President's war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”' Intelligence expert and German ex-minister Andreas von Bülow in an interview with Alex Jones: '"The Bush administration is in a deep defensive [mode] and probably they would like to come out with a new offensive," said Von Bülow as he considered whether a new staged false flag terror attack could be launched to further an interventionist agenda.'

Attack on Iran will lead to catastrophe in Middle-East
'Robert Gallucci, a former government expert on nonproliferation who is now the dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown', and someone who considers Iran to be eight to ten years away from producing a nuclear bomb, said to journalist Seymour Hersh: '“If they [Iran] had a covert nuclear program and we could prove it, and we could not stop it by negotiation, diplomacy, or the threat of sanctions, I'd be in favor of taking it out. But if you do it”—bomb Iran—“without being able to show there's a secret program, you're in trouble.”' An advisor to the Pentagon even wonders about the value of air strikes: '“The Iranians have distributed their nuclear activity very well, and we have no clue where some of the key stuff is. It could even be out of the country,” he said. He warned, as did many others, that bombing Iran could provoke “a chain reaction” of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world: “What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?”'
The Washington Post writes about a war game conducted by Sam Gardiner, a retired colonel with twenty years experience in organizing war games: 'Gardiner concluded that a military attack would not work, but said he believes the United States seems to be moving inexorably toward it.' In an interview with Democracy Now Gardiner said: '[...] by going through how the United States might attack Iranian nuclear facilities, I have to tell you that there is no solution in that path. In fact, it is a path towards probably making things in the Middle East much worse. It's not a solution to either stopping the Iranians or spreading democracy in the Middle East or getting us out of Iraq. It's a path that leads to disaster in many dimensions.' Hersh spoke with a European diplomat who also doesn't believe in a military solution to the conflict: '“If the diplomatic process doesn't work, there is no military ‘solution.' There may be a military option, but the impact could be catastrophic.” [...] Other European officials expressed similar skepticism about the value of an American bombing campaign. “The Iranian economy is in bad shape, and Ahmadinejad is in bad shape politically,” the European intelligence official told me. “He will benefit politically from American bombing. You can do it, but the results will be worse.” An American attack, he said, would alienate ordinary Iranians, including those who might be sympathetic to the U.S. “Iran is no longer living in the Stone Age, and the young people there have access to U.S. movies and books, and they love it,” he said. “If there was a charm offensive with Iran, the mullahs would be in trouble in the long run.” Another European official told me that he was aware that many in Washington wanted action. “It's always the same guys,” he said, with a resigned shrug. “There is a belief that diplomacy is doomed to fail. The timetable is short.” [...]
Any American bombing attack, [former Deputy Secretary of State] Richard Armitage told me, would have to consider the following questions: “What will happen in the other Islamic countries? What ability does Iran have to reach us and touch us globally—that is, terrorism? Will Syria and Lebanon up the pressure on Israel? What does the attack do to our already diminished international standing? And what does this mean for Russia, China, and the U.N. Security Council?” [...] Michel Samaha, a veteran Lebanese Christian politician and former cabinet minister in Beirut, told me that the Iranian retaliation might be focussed on exposed oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. “They would be at risk,” he said, “and this could begin the real jihad of Iran versus the West. You will have a messy world.” Iran could also initiate a wave of terror attacks in Iraq and elsewhere, with the help of Hezbollah.'

Iran could strike back by way of asymmetric warfare
In an interview [WMV, transcript] with CNN, Sam Gardiner said: '[...] if you're going to do it [attack Iran], you're under a lot pressure not to just stir up the bees' nest, but to go after the stingers. I don't mean to be cute about that, but if there's going to about strike, you can't leave the medium-range ballistic missile unhit, you can't leave the air bases that are within 30 flying minutes of Baghdad unhit, you can't leave the chemical facilities unhit. You may want to hit the terrorist training camps. So what happens is, very quickly, you end up with a relatively large operation, even though you started with just the nuclear sites. [...] My assessment is -- and it's because of regime problems at home -- that if we strike, they're likely to want to blame Israel. Now that's -- because that sells well at home [Iran]. Blaming Israel means that there's a chance that we could see Hezbollah, Hamas targeting Israel. We could very easily see this thing escalate into a broader Middle East war, particularly when you add Muslim rage.' Consider here also the $50 million that Iran has promised to the Palestinian Authority following a fundraiser by one of Hamas' leaders, Khaled Meshaal, and the $10 million promised by Russia. When a cat is cornered it can be unpredictable, and won't necessarily play by the rules; in this situation the term 'asymmetrical warfare' applies: 'Iran could activate Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, whom it supports, to launch attacks on Israel. It could have operatives attack U.S. interests in Azerbaijan, Central Asia or Turkey. "Iran can escalate the war," said Hadian. "It's not going to be all that hard to target U.S. forces in these countries." But most analysts agree that Iran's biggest trump card would be to unleash havoc in neighboring Iraq, where Shiites who spent years in Iran as exiles are assuming control of the government. [...] "If Iran wanted, it could make Iraq a hell for the United States," Hamid al-Bayati, Iraq's deputy foreign minister, said recently', reports the San Francisco Chronicle. And don't forget the Dutch presence in for example Iraq (NTM-I) and Afghanistan; [Flash presentation on Dutch missions].
It's unlikely that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will moderate his stance. In an interview with Democracy Now, Seymour Hersh said: '[...] what I think he's doing, he's basically playing chicken, like in the old James Dean movie, the two cars going at each other at high speed. He's playing chicken with the President of the United States.' In the WDR documentaryPlanspiel Iran [See also the more recent edited version], Sam Gardiner compares the situation in the Middle East with a mobile: 'When you hit one and one starts moving, the whole thing begins to move.' It looks like the CIA and the DIA have come to the same conclusion, reports Newsweek: '[...] CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, "The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating."' 'Prof Rogers, of the University of Bradford's peace studies department, says: "A military operation against Iran would not ... be a short-term matter but would set in motion a complex and long-lasting confrontation"', writes The Guardian. Gardiner: 'So anybody that says that they know where this might come out probably doesn't appreciate the Middle East. Because once you set this thing in motion the idea of where it ends up, you can't predict. The impact could be very serious if we keep going down this road.'

Military criticism of nuclear option stifled by Bush administration
Seymour Hersh writes: '[... The] former senior intelligence official said: [...] “Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we're talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This [an attack on Iran] is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don't have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they're shouted down.” The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.'” The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”'

Similarities between build-up to both Iraq and Iran wars
As was also clear from the presentation by DeepJournal in de Balie, twisted facts and other non-truths are being used to achieve the goal of a military confrontation with Iran, something that was also done during the build-up to the war in Iraq. Republican U.S. Congressman Ron Paul writes: 'Already the coordinating propaganda has galvanized the American people against Iran for the supposed threat it poses to us with weapons of mass destruction that are no more present than those Saddam Hussein was alleged to have had. It's amazing how soon after being thoroughly discredited over the charges levied against Saddam Hussein the Neo-cons are willing to use the same arguments against Iran. It's frightening to see how easily Congress, the media, and the people accept many of the same arguments against Iran that were used to justify an invasion of Iraq. [...] The sad truth is that the supposed dangers posed by Iran are no more real than those claimed about Iraq. [...] There is no evidence of a threat to us by Iran, and no reason to plan and initiate a confrontation with her.'
'The Administration's case against Iran is compromised by its history of promoting false intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction', writes Seymour Hersh. 'In a recent essay on the Foreign Policy Web site, entitled “Fool Me Twice,” Joseph Cirincione, the director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote, “The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war.” He noted several parallels: 'The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. Secretary of State tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The Secretary of Defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism.' Cirincione called some of the Administration's claims about Iran “questionable” or lacking in evidence. When I spoke to him, he asked, “What do we know? What is the threat? The question is: How urgent is all this?” The answer, he said, “is in the intelligence community and the I.A.E.A.” (In August, the Washington Post reported that the most recent comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate predicted that Iran was a decade away from being a nuclear power.)' Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as opposed to India, Israel and Pakistan - all countries that enjoy U.S. support. In the meantime Brazil, for instance, has a nuclear program.
'“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna. “That's just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years”', writes Hersh. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul writes: 'There are now fewer denials that securing oil supplies played a significant role in our decision to go into Iraq and stay there.'
The covert operations now being carried out in Iran are another similarity to the period during the build-up to the Iraq war, when such operations also took place. This was clearly evidenced by the Downing Street Memos, about which DeepJournal has written extensively. 'We now know that the decision and the actual actions to bomb Iraq occurred in July of 2002, before we ever had a U.N. resolution or before the Congress ever authorized it. It was an operation called Southern Focus, and [...] the guidance that the military had from Rumsfeld was keep it below the CNN line. His specific words. [...]', according to Sam Gardiner in an interview with Democracy Now. One thing that could be a talking point in the case of Iran is the fact that special programs were developed during the lead-up to the Iraq war that were designed to spread disinformation in order to mislead the public, and that at that time 'The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made'', according to the most important counterterrorism analyst at the CIA, Paul R. Pillar. (For more information on both points see this article by DeepJournal.


Will China be next after Iran?
In the Asia Times, professor and author Michael T. Klare writes: 'Slowly but surely, the grand strategy of the Bush administration is being revealed. [...] The truly commanding objective - the underlying basis for budgets and troop deployments - is the containment of China.' In another article Klare says: 'But only a small share of the increase [of the proposed Pentagon budget for the Long War] would cover specialized anti-terror and counter-insurgency systems. The biggest and costliest items -- such as nuclear-powered submarines and long-range bombers -- are intended for use against an entirely different enemy: the People's Republic of China.' 'The Pentagon has made no secret of its increasing focus on China as a potential threat to stability in Asia and the Pacific, where U.S. alliances with Japan and South Korea have been key underpinnings of the region's economic growth', which the Associated Press reports under the headline 'U.S. makes plans for a hostile China - The Chinese military buildup has South Korea, Japan and the U.S. planning for a possible confrontation.' 'The Washington Times reported Thursday that its three-month investigation of the U.S. military buildup in Asia showed that it is part of a covert strategy in which the U.S. military position in that region is being strengthened in ways designed to avoid provoking the Chinese and to dissuade them from becoming a hostile power.'

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