Thursday, January 4, 2007

Iran War: The Iraqi "surge" may not be the worst idea being implemented

"God may smile on us, but I don't think so." - anonymous Pentagon adviser quoted by Seymour Hersh April 2006 on Cheney-Bush administration plans to pressure Iran militarily

Attacking Iran still looks to be very much a live option.  There are a number of indications that the administration intends to do it at some point.  Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson looks at the disturbing implications of John Negroponte's move from Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to Deputy Secretary of State under Condi-Condi in Taking Stock of the Intel Community Shake Up No Quarter blog 01/04/06:

There are big doings in the intel community that may signal the start of a new effort to cook the books to justify an attack on Iran.  Let's start with John Negroponte's move to State Department. ...

Replacing Negroponte with retired Navy Admiral John M. McConnell [as DNI] and appointing retired Air Force Lt. General James Clapper as the Under Secretary of Intelligence at DOD, where he will be in charge of coordinating the budgets and activities of the NSA, the NRO, Defense Human Services, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the Defense Intelligence Agency, will give the military unprecedented control of the intelligence community.  This will mark the first time since World War II the active duty or former military officers are running the main intelligence assets of the United States.  Clapper's new job, at least for him, is a dream come true.

Clapper and McConnell are worrisome choices because they are known in the intelligence community as guys willing to give their customers what they want.  Unlike Negroponte, who took a pretty tough analytical stance dismissing the imminence of an Iranian threat, Clapper and McConnell will be more than willing collaborators in making a case that Iran is a serious, immediate threat.  If you want to cook the books then these guys can be master chefs.

There have always been three kinds of disaster possible for the US intervention in Iraq: insurgency, civil war and regional war.  The first two have been happening for quite a while.  Eventually the third is likely to happen.  The preliminaries are already happening.  If the Cheney-Bush administration (or Israel) makes an overt attack on Iran, regional war will be in progress.  There are others ways it can happen, of course.  But a US attack on Iran is definitely not "off the table" as a possible to the third disaster in the Iraq War.

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