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January 11, 2007

Prepping For A Wider War Iran  Iraq

Investigative journalist Robert Parry looks at Bush's words — and, more importantly, his deeds — and sees a clear pattern of preparation for a wider war. Parry:

At a not-for-quotation pre-speech briefing on Jan. 10, George W. Bush and his top national security aides unnerved network anchors and other senior news executives with suggestions that a major confrontation with Iran is looming.

Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush's nationwide address, NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said "there's a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue – in the country and the world – in a very acute way."

Russert and NBC anchor Brian Williams depicted this White House emphasis on Iran as the biggest surprise from the briefing as Bush stepped into the meeting to speak passionately about why he is determined to prevail in the Middle East.

"The President's inference was this: that an entire region would blow up from the inside, the core being Iraq, from the inside out," Williams said, paraphrasing Bush.

Despite the already high cost of the Iraq War, Bush also defended his decision to invade Iraq and to eliminate Saddam Hussein by arguing that otherwise "he and Iran would be in a race to acquire a nuclear bomb and if we didn't stop him, Iran would be going to Pakistan or to China and things would be much worse," Russert said.

If Russert's account is correct, there could be questions raised about whether Bush has lost touch with reality and may be slipping back into the false pre-invasion intelligence claims about Hussein threatening the United States with "a mushroom cloud." [...]

While avoiding any overt criticism of Bush's comments about an imaginary Iraqi-Iranian arms race, Russert suggested that the news executives found the remarks perplexing.

"That's the way he sees the world," Russert explained. "His rationale, he believes, for going into Iraq still was one that was sound." [...]

In his prime-time speech, Bush injected other reasons to anticipate a wider war. He used language that suggested U.S. or allied forces might launch attacks inside Iran and Syria to "disrupt the attacks on our forces" in Iraq.

"We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria," Bush said. "And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

Bush announced other steps that could be interpreted as building a military infrastructure for a regional war or at least for air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.

"I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region," Bush said. "We will expand intelligence sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies."

Though most news accounts of Bush's speech focused on his decision to send about 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq – on top of the 132,000 already there – Bush's comments about his regional strategy could ultimately prove more significant.

Militarily, a second aircraft carrier strike force would do little to interdict arms smuggling across the Iran-Iraq border. Similarly, Patriot anti-missile batteries would be of no use in defeating lightly armed insurgent forces and militias inside Iraq.

However, both deployments would be useful to deter – or defend against – retaliatory missile strikes from Iran if the Israelis or the United States bomb Iran's nuclear facilities or stage military raids inside Iranian territory. [...]

In other words, the deployments would fit with Israel or the United States bombing Iran's nuclear sites and then trying to tamp down any Iranian response.

Another danger to American interests, however, would be pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq seeking revenge against U.S. troops. If that were to happen, Bush's escalation of troop levels in Iraq would make sense as a way to protect the Green Zone and other sensitive targets.

So, Bush's actions and rhetoric over the past several weeks continue to mesh with a scenario for a wider regional war – a possibility that now mainstream journalists, such as Tim Russert, are beginning to take seriously.

Other data points are aiming in that same direction.

On Jan. 4, Bush ousted the top two commanders in the Middle East, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, who had opposed a military escalation in Iraq. Bush also removed Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, who had stood by intelligence estimates downplaying the near-term threat from Iran's nuclear program.

Bush appointed Admiral William Fallon as the new chief of Central Command for the Middle East despite the fact that Fallon, a former Navy aviator and currently head of the Pacific Command, will oversee two ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The choice of Fallon makes more sense if Bush foresees a bigger role for two aircraft carrier groups off Iran's coast. [...]

McConnell is seen as far more likely than Negroponte to give the administration an alarming assessment of Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions in an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate. To the consternation of neoconservatives, Negroponte has splashed cold water on their heated rhetoric about the imminent threat from Iran. [...]

Bush reportedly has been weighing his military options for bombing Iran's nuclear facilities since early 2006. But he has encountered resistance from the top U.S. military brass, much as he has with his plans to escalate U.S. troop levels in Iraq.

As investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker, a number of senior U.S. military officers were troubled by administration war planners who believed "bunker-busting" tactical nuclear weapons, known as B61-11s, were the only way to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities buried deep underground. [...]

"Bush and [Vice President Dick] Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning," one former senior intelligence official said.

But one way to get around the opposition of the Joint Chiefs would be to delegate the bombing operation to the Israelis. Given Israel's powerful lobbying operation in Washington and its strong ties to leading Democrats, an Israeli-led attack might be more politically palatable with the Congress. [...]

While some observers believe Israel or the Bush administration may be leaking details of the plans as a way to frighten Iran into accepting international controls on its nuclear program, other sources indicate that the preparations for a wider Middle Eastern war are very serious and moving very quickly. [Emphasis added]

The country's moving one way — as witness the November elections, the national opinion polls, and the Establishment position represented by the Iraq Study Group — and the White House neocons another. And they sure seem to be in a hurry. They appear determined to get into a war with Iran, and they must know their time is running out. 2008 is just around the corner.

It's not clear at this point that anyone can or will stand in their way. All the discussion of the troop "surge" may just be so much misdirection — a red herring to distract us while the wider war takes shape.

Posted by Jonathan at January 11, 2007 04:23 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

It has become increasingly clear to me that George W. Bush has a serious mental problem.
I don't know what the technical term would be for someone with delusions of grandeur, paranoia and what I would call the Napolean complex.

This irrational guy now wants to attack Iran and Syria. In order to do this he has illegally raided Iran's embassy to Iraq and "arrested" individuals from that complex.

To raid an embassy is paramount to invading that country and is against ALL international law.

Who the hell does this guy think he is?

After being advised by his generals, who are against this move, rebuked by the voters and chastised by Congress, this guy thinks he can do whatever he wants with American lives and American treasury(which is being financed by the Chinese) to fulfill his "destiny". Give me a F*&^%$)@ break!!!!

Somebody please remove him and his staff, including his master Cheney, from office.

Posted by: Tom Belt at January 11, 2007 08:53 PM