Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Iran updates

Gareth Porter brings us some more specifics about the 2003 Iranian proposals for wide-ranging negotiations: Rove Said to Have Received 2003 Iranian Proposal Inter Press Service 02/16/07:

Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003, according to an Iranian-American scholar who was then on his Congressional staff.

Ney, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to prison in January for his role in the Jack Abramov lobbying scandal, was named by former aide Trita Parsi as an intermediary who took a copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House.
Jim Lobe has an optimistic assessment of the current administration stance toward Iran that I hope is accurate: The Neo-Con Dog That Isn't Barking Inter Press Service 02/16/07. He compares the propaganda build-up to the Iraq War with what we're seeing today toward Iran. Despite some very obvious threatening moves by the Cheney-Bush administration, militarily as well as rhetorically, he finds the public pronouncements of the neocon advocates for war to be far more muted than one would expect if the administration were signalling for their help in promoting immediate war with Iran:

No one doubts that the administration has developed detailed plans for attacking Iran and is certainly putting in place a formidable armada that, if so ordered, has the means to carry out those plans without delay.

But if indeed a decision has already been made, it appears that the faction that led the pro-war propaganda offensive in the run-up to the Iraq invasion and that has long favoured "regime change" in Iraq - the neo-conservatives - has either not been clued in, or more likely, believes that any such attack is still some time off, if it takes place at all.

It is not that the "neo-cons" don't favour war with Iran if diplomatic and other means fail to achieve either regime change or, at the very least, Tehran's abandonment of its nuclear programme. ...

It is, rather,more the fact that the neo-cons, who helped lead the year-long propaganda campaign to rally the country behind the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 with an admirable single-mindedness and urgency, appear far less focused on Iran, at least for the moment. If an attack on Iran is on the near-term agenda, the neo-conservatives have been decidedly off-message. (my emphasis)
Several contributors to the British New Statesman are not so optimistic.

Iran - Ready to attack by Dan Plesch New Statesman 02/19/07

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).
TIRANNT? We're calling the plan "tyrant"? Did Dick Cheney pick that one out personally?

We are asking the wrong questions of Iran by Rageh Omaar New Statesman 02/19/07:

In 2003, the US and British governments invaded Iraq, a country whose people and society Britons and Americans knew very little about. What we did know related to Saddam Hussein, his appalling regime, and bogus or misunderstood intelligence about its military capabilities. Rarely have we invaded and occupied a country about which we were so ignorant. We are probably on the verge of rerunning the nightmare, this time in Iran.
Iran - This, Mr  President, is how wars start by Andrew Stephen New Statesman 02/19/07:

But let us pause and take a deep breath. I have not spoken to anybody in Washington this week who actually thinks the Bush administration is planning imminent war against Iran, though I would be prepared to bet that Bush will launch some kind of military strike against Iran before he leaves office; I have, however, talked to insiders who think war with Iran could yet be the logical outcome of the muddle-headedness and incompetence of the Bush administration.
Anthony Cordesman has a 02/15/07 revision of his presentation-style report on Iran’s Nuclear Program: U.S. Strategic Options (Center for Strategic and International Studies [CSIS]), which is based in part on Iran’s NPT Violations – Numerous and Possibly On-Going? by Jacqueline Shire and David Albright 09/29/06 (Institute for Science and International Security [ISIS]).

Larry Johnson, in a post that has some genuinely good news about terrorism,
Good News for Bush? No Quarter blog 02/16/07, reminds us of Iran's terrorist retaliatory capability:

Then there is Iran. Iran reported its second straight terrorist attack--this one against school children--in two days. In light of bellicose U.S. rhetoric we should not be surprised if Iran concludes that the United States is responsible. That means they will retaliate and are likely to do so in a big way. If the United States launches attacks against Iran (even if the United States is retaliating against an Iranian strike) we should anticipate a significant, global effort by Iranian assets to hit U.S. targets.

While the number of terrorist attacks subsided in 2006 we may want to keep the celebratory champagne on ice before toasting the decline in terrorism.
The Anonymous Liberal sees Encouraging Press Coverage of Iranian Arms Claims 02/16/07:

The Bush administration clearly wants us to believe that the Iranians are 1) largely responsible for the chaos in Iraq, and 2) supplying weapons to Iraqis for use against U.S. troops. The first assertion is absurd. Sunni insurgents are responsible for the vast majority of U.S. casualties and the sectarian conflict in Iraq would be raging whether or not Iran was in the picture. As for the second assertion, that Iran is acting with the intention of causing harm to U.S. troops, well, that requires us overlooking a much more obvious motive: helping their Shia allies in Iraq prevail in a civil war which has already begun and seems likely to get worse.

... it is easy to see why Iran would be interested in training and supplying Shia forces in Iraq. It is very much in Iran's interest for the Shia majority to retain control of the country. In order for that to happen, the Shia majority needs to be prepared to defend itself when U.S. troops pull out of Iraq, which is going to happen sooner or later. If Iran is indeed shipping weapons to Iraq, isn't this by far the most plausible explanation of why they are doing so?
Tags: , , , ,

No comments: