Note from Flynt Leverett: Most Important Parts of Bush Speech About Iran — Not Iraq

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flynt leverett newshour.jpg
(New America Foundation Senior Fellow and Geopolitics of Energy Initiative Director Flynt Leverett: photo credit: NewsHour with Jim Lehrer)
I asked former CIA and Bush administration National Security Council senior official Flynt Leverett for a quick summary of his thoughts on President Bush’s Address to the Nation.
Here is Flynt Leverett’s response to The Washington Note:

The most important things that President Bush said last night dealt with Iran, not Iraq:

According to the President, the Iranians are providing “material support” to attacks on U.S. forces. That is a casus belli. It fits in with the administration’s escalating campaign — encompassing rhetoric and detentions of Iranian officials in Iraq — to blame Iran for a strategically significant part of the ongoing instability and violence in Iraq.
In the context of describing the deployment of additional U.S. forces to Iraq, the President also noted the importance of securing Iraq’s borders. I suspect that at least some of the additional U.S. soldiers going to Iraq will end up on the border with Iran.
Moreover, the President strongly implied that the U.S. military would start going after targets in countries neighboring Iraq to disrupt supply networks for insurgents and militias.
The deployment of a second carrier strike group to the theater — confirmed in the speech — is clearly directed against Iran. Since, in contrast to previous U.S. air campaigns in the Gulf, military planners developing contingencies for striking target sets in Iran must assume that the United States would not be able to use land-based air assets in theater (because of political opposition in the region), they are surely positing a force posture of at least two, and possible three carrier strike groups to provide the necessary numbers and variety of tactical aircraft.
Similarly, the President’s announcement that additional Patriot batteries would go to the Gulf is clearly directed against Iran. We have previously deployed Patriot batteries to the region to deal with the Iraqi SCUD threat. Today, the only missile threat in the region for the Patriot to address is posed, at least theoretically, by Iran’s Shihab-3.

In sum, the administration is laying the rhetorical and operational foundations for implementing a presidential decision to initiate military operations against Iran. No wonder the White House wants Hillary* and me to shut up.
(*Hillary is Hillary Mann Leverett, a former State Department official who also served on President George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff. She is married to Flynt Leverett)

Leverett’s views are consistent with many others I have spoken to over the last day. He has also been in a battle with National Security Council staff who have insinuated themselves in the “secrets clearing process” managed by the CIA Publications Review Board.
Here is Flynt Leverett’s and HIllary Mann Leverett’s recent op-ed in the New York Times that was published with the CIA’s “blacked out”/redacted lines.
— Steve Clemons
Update:
Eason Jordan has a useful graph by graph analysis of the Bush speech up at IraqSlogger. He is on same page as TWN on “hints” of attacks against Iran and Syria.
Also, Senator Hagel’s exchange with Condi Rice yesterday is getting a lot of play — but here is his formal statement reacting to President Bush’s speech. Worth reading a few times.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

62 comments on “Note from Flynt Leverett: Most Important Parts of Bush Speech About Iran — Not Iraq

  1. Pissed Off American says:

    I’ve yet to hear critics of that rhetoric confront AIPAC over such a blatantly false assertion. Or acknowledge the recklessness it takes to twist, warp, & lie about our intel.
    AIPAC is flatly asserting something anyone and everyone knows is false (based on US intel & published docs) about Iran’s current nuclear capability.
    I’d say that easily qualifies as throwing “oil on the fire.”
    That AIPAC could openly push that propoganda
    Posted by rich
    Haven’t you heard, Rich? AIPAC “is just like any other lobby”. Honest, I have it from “informed sources”. The same “informed sources” informed us that Israel was not involved in pimping this nation into war with Iraq. So they were shown the proof that Israel DID advance the same kinds of lies that the Bush Administration was spewing. Then it changed to they WERE involved, but they thought they were telling the truth. Gotta love that one. But the real clincher was; Ok, Israel lied to us, but they aren’t responsible for it, America needs to be accountable for its own actions. In other words, if you abet the crime, you’re innocent in my “informed source’s” world.
    So now we see the same exact LIES coming out of Israel about Iran. As much as it frosts my ass to see such a thing, there IS an upside to it. The upside is that my “informed sources” now avoid the topic, and the thread, like the plague, so the thread usually remains fairly interesting.
    Of course, my failure to name names is as transparent as the horseshit we see unfolding on another thread here. I just thought I would show my “informed sources” just how slimey such a technique really is. Its a supreme act of dishonesty. Pointing fingers in a cowardly and backstabbing manner. I don’t enjoy doing it, and this post will be my last where I use such a despicable manner of accusation. Frankly, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
    But heck, what the hay, when they’ve got nothing else, they might as well punt. It saddens me that ANYONE would subject themselves to the kind of self loathing that surely accompanies the act of employing the kind of despicable dishonesty it takes to consistently employ such a technique.

    Reply

  2. rich says:

    I saw that AIPAC “statement” earlier this week. And I haven’t really followed that whole issue at all.
    However heated the rhetoric around here gets–and it does become quite frank–
    –I’ve yet to hear critics of that rhetoric confront AIPAC over such a blatantly false assertion. Or acknowledge the recklessness it takes to twist, warp, & lie about our intel.
    AIPAC is flatly asserting something anyone and everyone knows is false (based on US intel & published docs) about Iran’s current nuclear capability.
    I’d say that easily qualifies as throwing “oil on the fire.”
    That AIPAC could openly push that propoganda

    Reply

  3. Pissed Off American says:

    “Here is their run down on the election and which dems now in control will be a plus or minus for Israel.”
    Posted by Carroll
    Amazing. Note the sentence below, directly quoted from your link, “Present few problems”??? Thats what I would say about someone I am thinking about recruiting for a bank heist. These bastards think they own us. And, God dammit, they just might.
    “Based on his record, Ike Skelton (Mo.), who is in line to be chair of the Armed Services Committee, should present few problems.”

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  4. rich says:

    Den wrote:
    >>>”The irony is that Iran’s clients in Iraq, Hakim, and the SCIRI and Dawa parties are actually the Shiite groups that the United States supports. The only major Shiite group that opposes Iran, Muqtada and his Mahdi army, who are dedicated nationalists, is on the United States target list.”<<<
    So destroying Iraqi nationalist is the real agenda.
    This aligns well with Bush’s/CPA’s initial moves and overall policies.
    If Bush can shore up SCIRI et al and weaken nationalists opposed to US presence, then it becomes an excuse for many possible options. Complete partition. Invitation/provocation to increase US presence. Excuse to attack Iran. It’s clear Bush WANTS to suck Sunnis from Saudi Arabia and Iran into a greater role in Iraq–NOT just (perhaps) to manufacture provocation to attack Iran. Perhaps to drain Iran & bleed Saudi Arabia, while shattering Iraq as a nation once and for all.
    Civil war has always been Bush’s goal, and that’s why he’s not leaving. A WIDER regional war, one that completely transforms Saudi social relations AND Iranian power relations at the same time would be even better, by Bush’s logic.
    Think about that: Neocons and global corporations all find NATIONS themselves to be the real problem. That understanding is inclusive of the US. There’s no question that Bush’s aim is to end the sovereignty and nationhood of Iraq in its entirety. “Spreading freedom” means spreading the unfettered ability of oil corpses like Exxon and BP to operate w/o lawful constraints imposed by democracies at the national level. Pretty obvious.

    Reply

  5. Carroll says:

    POA…..you might be interested in the latest JINSA doings….JINSA is the “arms industry” and defense lobby for Israel as AIPAC is the “congressional” jewish lobbying arm for Israel.
    Here is their run down on the election and which dems now in control will be a plus or minus for Israel.
    http://www.jinsa.org/articles/articles.html/function/view/categoryid/143/documentid/3588/history/3,2359,143,3588
    Also check out the front page and McCain’s pledge of alleigence to israel.

    Reply

  6. Carroll says:

    WH “Findings” vr. “Directives
    And how “Findings” are being used against Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Or how to cut out any oversight by congress…not that congress is up for controlling the pentagon anyway. You know it really doesn’t matter if congress cut funds for esculating in Iraq as long as the pentagon has huge, exempt from oversight and accounting, slush funds for tneir covert operations. Sooner or later their covert meddling will provoke the desired retalitation and congress will do the same thing they did before….cave….in the name of protecting the Amurkin people. Never mind who started it.
    http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=12378

    Reply

  7. Pissed Off American says:

    Well, here’s AIPAC’s morning briefing for us ignorant Americans, hot off the AIPAC website. You gotta love the “which is pressing ahead with its pursuit of atomic arms” part, doncha? What the hell do those IAEA guys know anyway, huh? And the CIA, must just be a bunch of idiots, musta looked in the wrong places, read the wrong intelligence reports. Yep, by golly, they’re “pressing ahead”, those nasty Iranies are.
    But hey, remember, AIPAC and Israel are innocent if we get tangled up in Iran. Honest, and by God anybody that says different is a big bad anti-semite.
    I like Condi’s bit about “innocent civilians” too. Tell me, who, in Bushworld is the “innocent civilian de jour”?
    Then Burns pipes in with “Iran needs to learn to respect us”. What, he thinks they don’t have news in Iran? The people are brainless? Maybe he thinks that somehow they missed observing the insane inept deadly bumbling that Americans have exhibited in the last six years of history?
    Respect us? Shit, I don’t even “respect us” anymore.
    http://www.aipac.org/hill/
    State Department Seeks to Counter Iranian Threat
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday said that the United States will act to counter Iranian provocations in the Middle East, The Wall Street Journal reported. Washington will “use all our power to limit and counter activities of Iranian agents who are attacking our people and innocent civilians in Iraq,” Rice said. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns echoed Rice, saying “Iran needs to learn to respect us. And Iran certainly needs to learn to respect American power in the Middle East.” The State Department has consistently listed Iran – which is pressing ahead with its pursuit of atomic arms – as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

    Reply

  8. Den Valdron says:

    Well, you know what they say: “A fool and his empire are soon parted.”

    Reply

  9. DonS says:

    “The irony is . . .”
    But you see that’s not the way Bush wants to see it. He needs only good guys and bad guys, and that’s how he seeks to reshape the world, because that’s what God tells him. This is true meglomania, not foreign policy, and we ought not pretend otherwise.

    Reply

  10. Den Valdron says:

    The irony is that Iran’s clients in Iraq, Hakim, and the SCIRI and Dawa parties are actually the Shiite groups that the United States supports. The only major Shiite group that opposes Iran, Muqtada and his Mahdi army, who are dedicated nationalists, is on the United States target list.

    Reply

  11. bob h says:

    Shouldn’t we demand proof of such material support in the form of intercepted weapons, IED’s, etc. that can be tied to Iran? That Iran would try to assist their fellow Shiites under assault from Sunnis would hardly be surprising, though.

    Reply

  12. Pissed Off American says:

    Sorry.
    But well, I tried. I just can’t seem to get being an average American down. Sometimes I think, when I see the horseshit like I saw tonight on ABC News, that we are a nation of idiots. Tits and propaganda. Hey, you too can look like her if ya just buy our…..
    …and BTW, did you hear about what those nasty Iranies are up to now in their evil search for the doomsday weapon? We’ll be right back with nothing but the cold hard truth, right after the break.
    Honest. We really will.

    Reply

  13. Brain Dead American says:

    I just accidentally pushed my favorite button and landed on “ABC Evening News with Just another Bushbot Bimbo” and learned that all these munitions and explosives being used by the Shii,uh,Sunni…uhm…uh………oh yeah! I remember….these insurgents, are comin’ in through Iran, by God, and we got the maps of their routes to prove it, by golly!
    Ima guessin’ we aren’t flying aircraft over the “routes” entry points clearly shown on the maps, eh? Satellites must be down too. (Probably bought some components from France or somethin’, eh, Wimples?)
    Anyway, as someone brought up earlier, I guess everyone, all dem ‘surgents, musta run out of the tons and tons and tons and tons and tons…oops….sorry…….tons of ‘splosives and arms and radios and….uhm, military stuff, that were in the Iraqi armories, ammo dumps and depots that Dubya…sigh…(God bless ‘im)…
    ….oh yeah, as I was sayin’, anyway, that Bush gift wrapped for them ‘surgents as a reward for lettin’ him accomplish his mission so quickly.(You can always recognize a man of God by his charity, can’t you?)
    Too bad them ‘surgents didn’t play nice, ain’t it? Now we gotta cut them off, just as soon as we get our planes back up and flyin’, and get some pilots that can read maps. Oh yeah, and get the Shuttle up to replace them lousy French components. (I’ve always hated french fries. You too, Whimples? They never shoulda put ’em back on the market.)
    Hey, does anybody herebouts know how long a hundred tons of C4 lasts? Jus’ kinda wonderin’, ya think Katie Couric might know?

    Reply

  14. ET says:

    Marky, FYI
    State-resolution: Avenue to Impeachment?
    Congress’s Jefferson Manual for Parliamentary Procedure cites the state-resolution avenue as one of the official means by which the impeachment process can be invoked. Details:
    http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/ticia/2007/jan/11/state_resolution_avenue_to_impeachment

    Reply

  15. ET says:

    I think the timing of the impeachment resolution from NM is becoming quite interesting.
    I am sure that after Bush’s speech on Wednesday more Congressmen will be open to a discussion of impeachment.
    I wonder if some other states will file similar resolution. Posted by Marky
    ~~~~~~~~
    FYI:
    State-resolution: Avenue to Impeachment?
    Congress’s Jefferson Manual for Parliamentary Procedure cites the state-resolution avenue as one of the official means by which the impeachment process can be invoked.
    Details:
    http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/ticia/2007/jan/11/state_resolution_avenue_to_impeachment

    Reply

  16. Easy E says:

    Until root issue is resolved, all bets are off….
    Must see video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSp-oIOhq00&mode=related&search=

    Reply

  17. alenaae says:

    I asked an Iraqi in Najaf what he thought about this. This is what he said:
    Jassim: I still believe in american
    Karen: yes, many people are asking to force a full American exit from Iraq
    Karen: what do you think would happen if the Americans were to leave now?
    Jassim: even if I do not agre or understand USA government policy some times I respect soldiers
    Karen: Bush is currently planning to send 21,500 troops
    Jassim: because I know what they suffer too, I jusy hope them would take care of iraqis
    Jassim: yes I know that
    Jassim: if usa withdraown from Iraq every one will kill every one else
    Jassim: it is like a civil war now but it will be official
    Jassim: no one know what would happen exactly but every bad thing is possible
    Jassim: may be arabic countries will attack us
    Karen: is the Iraqi military part of the solution or part of the problem?
    Jassim: Iran also
    Jassim: both !!!
    Jassim: no one can depend on them
    Jassim: they are a wasting formoney
    Jassim: for money
    Jassim: like most of money spent in iraq
    Jassim: just wasting
    Jassim: most of it went to private pockets !!
    Jassim: or to support militia
    Jassim: political parties
    More at:
    http://alenaae.blogspot.com/2007/01/6-what-if-americans-leave-iraq-where.html
    In a previous conversation, he had this to say:
    Jassim: but may be I say may be if USA government follow a new strategy it would make a differance
    Karen: what kind of strategy?
    Jassim: wel some thing like chasing terorists
    Jassim: eleminating them
    Karen: I thought that the Americans were already hunting terrorists
    Jassim: support independent people in government not parties
    Jassim: no
    Jassim: they are bearly doing that
    Jassim: it surprise you right ??
    Karen: yes, it does
    Jassim: I know
    Karen: the whole reason for being in Iraq is supposed to be “The War on Terror”
    Jassim: they are defending themselves but not attacking them effectively
    Jassim: well in some how it changed
    Karen: In the news, we are told that it is impossible for the Americans to tell the difference between terrorists and civilians. They are afraid to go after terrorists, because they might kill more innocent people.
    Jassim: Bush strategy was to allow all terrorists to gather in Iraq instead of attacking USA then eliminate them but slowly
    Jassim: no
    Jassim: every one know where terrorists located
    Jassim: even children
    Karen: I definitely will need to tell others that
    Jassim: so you see he used Iraq as a field for his war instead fighting on USA ground
    Jassim: we pay for this strategy
    Karen: have Iraqis told the American soldiers where to find the terrorists?
    Jassim: yes
    Jassim: I was involved in one of the hottest cases during my work
    Jassim: it was what happened in …
    Karen: would the civilian population support the Americans if they went after the terrorists?
    Jassim: for months terrorists were entering fom borders in Seyria and gathering in this city
    Jassim: killing Shia, bombing, prepare bombing cars
    Jassim: american forces reported for months about this activities but they did nothing
    more at:
    http://alenaae.blogspot.com/2007/01/2-further-conversation-with-iraqi.html

    Reply

  18. stan says:

    mitch mcconnell is playing reid like a fiddle.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Carroll, I didn’t know you worked for Shell and Fluor!
    Posted by John at January 12, 2007 03:51 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>
    God forbid!….Carroll is my first name, but the sur name of my great grandmother’s family ……so he could be a distant evil cousin.

    Reply

  20. Den Valdron says:

    And you’re correct. Israel doesn’t have the stomache for an occupation. They had a bellyfull in Lebanon. They won’t do Syria.

    Reply

  21. Den Valdron says:

    What comes after the ‘roll through’? Well, that’s always the problem, isn’t it.
    For the Americans, the original plan was to install Ahmad Chalabi or some goofy puppet in place, have a bullshit election, and let the puppet run things.
    The trouble was that Saddam didn’t die on schedule (immediately), which meant that the potential loyalty of the Iraqi army and secret police was dubious. So… they had to go, and once that happened, well, they had to occupy the damned place themselves.
    Won’t happen with Syria. There’ll be no occupations. Simply put a puppet on the throne, give him just enough money and guns (and poison gas) to slaughter his own people, and bob’s your uncle.

    Reply

  22. Carroll says:

    Caroll, just because Israeli troops performed poorly in unconventional warfare against Hezbollah, don’t sell them short. In conventional warfare, they’d roll right through Syria in a matter of days. For Bush’s purpose, this may be all he needs. Take out Syria, and Lebanon and Hezbollah dies on the vine, his Iraqi flank is secure, and all he has to worry about is taking down Iran.
    Posted by Den Valdron at January 12, 2007 02:28 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    I am not being snarky in asking…what about after the “roll thru”? No doubt Isr or the US could ‘roll thru” with conventional forces..however can they ‘stay” up against both conventional and “unconventional” forces from Syria and Iran.
    Attrition has always been the word in my mind when talking about who wins wars (long term) in the ME.
    But then eternal war for peace was the neo goal wasn’t it.
    However I doubt the Israeli population of 6 million has the stomache for a war of years or decades of attrition.
    They or we will reach for a nuke to end it.

    Reply

  23. Den Valdron says:

    I must say that while the ‘one big shot’ theory is appealing, its not guaranteed that Bush will go for it. Odds are he won’t.
    More realistically, the whole point of the surge is to keep everyone off balance and run out the clock until the Iraq War is some other Presidents failure.
    One thing I’ll say about these guys though, is whatever happens, they’re not quick thinkers. Four years ago, Saddam’s failure to die on schedule wrecked their whole scheme for world domination. If its taken them four years to come up with Plan B, I think that tells us a lot about how viable plan B is.

    Reply

  24. JoMoHo says:

    “In other words, Bush is acting like the manager of the world’s largest hedge fund — with nukes.”
    The executive Executive.

    Reply

  25. Marky says:

    I think the timing of the impeachment resolution from NM is becoming quite interesting.
    I am sure that after Bush’s speech on Wednesday more Congressmen will be open to a discussion of impeachment.
    I wonder if some other states will file similar resolution.

    Reply

  26. Peter Principle says:

    “The thing is, that if he tries and wins, he wins all the marbles . . . And if he loses, then all of America loses, and loses big time. So his attitude is that we should all be pulling like mad for him to succeed, once he’s committed us, we got no choice but to give 110% for him, because the consequences of failure will be so appalling.”
    In other words, Bush is acting like the manager of the world’s largest hedge fund — with nukes.

    Reply

  27. karenk says:

    My European friends keep saying Bush is crazy, and that they fear him and his Administration more than any other(even Kim Jong Il-who they consider fairly sane by comparison to Bush). I keep telling them that half the country feels the same way-attacking Iran or Syria is insane. But considering George Bush doesn’t listen to his own Generals, why would he listen to us? He’s on a MAJOR EGO TRIP, and someone needs to deflate it- To him, it’s George Bush’s world and we just live in it.

    Reply

  28. Easy E says:

    Military analyst believes recent US actions could signal Iran conflict soon…..
    http://www.rawstory.com/news/2007/Video_Recent_US_actions_could_signal_0112.html

    Reply

  29. Marcia says:

    I just watched Condi Rice being interviewed by the BBC and she repeatdly kept her answers to all question oriented toward Iran and the agressions by Iran in Iraq toward US soldiers against which the US is only “reacting.”
    She also insistedf that the “Presidents plan” needed help from moderate countries such as Jordan, insisting in is in their interest, since it is their neighborhood.
    It was difficult to discern if this was a menace or if she was just trying suggest someone else ison board. Perhaps she considers Saudi Arabia a moderate country too but it was not mentioned.

    Reply

  30. Craig says:

    I don’t know what the rules and protocols are, but I hope members of Congress are reminding military commanders that Bush has no Congressional authorization to launch a war with Iran.

    Reply

  31. Den Valdron says:

    Steve, I think Kevin has the right of it, mostly. Here’s how I see Bush’s plan:
    – The US and Israel (jointly)launch aerial strikes against Syria, and the US and Israel (mostly Israel) strikes into Syria, crushing the Assad government in Damascus. With leadership gone, electronic command and control systems taken out, and military detachments crippled, the country surrenders and is taken off the table.
    – The US launches massive protracted air strikes against nuclear sites, military and air force targets, and communications infrastructure in Iran, simultaneously with the attack on Syria.
    – US air power is used to suppress Iranian military, forstalling an invasion.
    – With Israeli assistance, new supply lines are established through Syria, eliminating dependence of American forces on Persian Gulf supply lines.
    – Iraq goes up in flames, but so what? That happened before in April 2004, when a dozen cities, including Fallujah, Karbala, Najaf, Ramadhi, Basra and Baghdad revolted. We let the revolts burn out and we took it all back. Same thing this time. We withdraw from the cities, keep them isolated and contained, and sit pretty. Then, we move back in, one at a time, and kill the leaders of the uprisings.
    – With Syria gone and Iraq secure (or at least managed), we bomb the shit out of Iran at leisure (the necessity of oil flow means that we’re looking at a very short campaign, weeks tops), and demand that their government surrender and sign peace terms as dictated.
    – If they don’t surrender on schedule and sign peace terms as dictated, then we quietly threaten to nuke them. If that doesn’t work, we nuke them. If that doesn’t work, we nuke them again. At some point, they’ll surrender and sign peace terms. It’ll happen very fast, in a matter of a few weeks.
    – With peace now re-established, attention turns to crushing the Iraq revolts one by one.
    – Meanwhile, a damaged and humiliated Iranian government, disgraced to its own people, vulnerable to covert action, eventually collapses. But if it doesn’t collapse, so what, the Mullahs are still our bitch.
    – With Syria gone and Iran neutered, Hezbollah starves to death. Israel dictates the new shape of Lebanon.
    – Syria is reconstituted in whatever shape America and Israel want. There’ll be no occupation, its got no oil after all. So whatever surviving general is willing to play ball and be our bitch will be chosen to rule Syria, he’ll get just enough money and weapons to keep the other Syrians in line, and he’ll spend the rest of his career doing what he’s told.
    – Hamas, lacking Syrian or Iranian support will fade away.
    – Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states will adjust themselves to the new realities because they have no other choice.
    – China, Russia, Europe might object, but there’s no one left in the region to give them a point of entry, so screw them. They had no time to use economic leverage, their military leverage was nil, and none of them had the stones to face the US down in nuclear terms. By the time they’ve got their act together, they’ll be looking at a new reality where the US is dictating terms for everyones energy supplies.
    – The Democrats and the peaceniks will object. But Bush will come home with victories over Iran and Syria, and a claim to have solved Iraq, so he’ll be untouchable. The Democratic congress will roll over, and Bush will have established such precedents that we can stop calling it a Republic and just crown him the new Caesar.
    ***The Moral of this story: Who dares, Wins!***
    I’m not saying its realistic, I’m not saying it will work, I’m just saying that this is what I’m betting is their thinking.
    All sorts of problems.
    – Let’s take Syria. Syria doesn’t have to win. All Syria has to do is survive. The Assads know this. Have they made provision to fortify Damascus? To establish alternate fall back headquarters? To establish command and control systems redundancies, non-electronic command and control systems? They’re a big country of 19 million people. A ground offensive could bog down pretty quick. And urban warfare is always a nightmare.
    – Hezbollah might counterattack. It’s still got a lot of missiles, including missiles that might be able to hit Tel Aviv. We figure they’ve still got several thousand Katyushas, and an unknown volume of big ordnance.
    – Syria’s got its own stockpiles of missiles, including real missiles with real chemical weapons and real stuff that could hit Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. No stinky Katyushas for them.
    – Meanwhile, just how bad do the Iraq uprisings get. How about, instead of retreating to safe bases and let the cities revolts burn out, those revolts go out looking for trouble. Goodbye green zone. Supply lines get chopped to pieces. GI’s start to starve, surrounded by hostiles, low on gas.
    – An Iranian counter strike force actually makes it into Iraq, where they really are met with flowers, and suddenly, its Kenny vs Spenny.
    – Sunburn missiles sink some or all of the US Persian Gulf fleet.
    – Iranian counterstrikes with missiles hit Persian Gulf states.
    – Iranians successfully blockade the straits of Hormuz.
    – The Iranians simply stand up to bombardment and refuse to say uncle, no matter what.
    – China and Japan dump all their American dollars, the US economy collapses overnight.
    – Russia weighs in against the US. Suddenly, American warplanes confront Russian warplanes on equal terms over the skies of Iran. The free lunch is over.
    – China or Russia or both, threaten a nuclear standoff with the US. It’s the Cuban Missile Crisis all over again, but this time, its for real.
    – Worldwide sanctions against the US.
    – Pakistan destabilizes, the ultimate wild card.
    – On an emergency basis, Iran gets its hands on a few nukes to threaten back with. Could be Pakistani, could be Russian, could be North Korean, or maybe they’ll have surprised us all.
    Now, here’s how I see it. I don’t think *all* of these things have to happen. Probably won’t.
    But *all* of them don’t have to happen for the U.S. to lose. If *some* of them happen, if even certain *ones* of them happen, then the US loses.
    America fails, its economy falls apart, its broken army retreats in disgrace, Bush is impeached and put on trial, and that’s all folks.
    The odds of at least a few of these things happening are pretty damnde good. Damned near certain.
    So, anyone who is subscribing to the above plan, well, they’ve got to be plumb out of their minds. They’ve got to be the sort of people who are raging ideologues, brook no contrary opinions, never step back, never admit mistakes, and in the face of near certain defeat, keep upping the ante.
    Sounds like anyone you know?
    The thing is, that if he tries and wins, he wins all the marbles. He literally redraws the map of the world, rewrites history, he literally becomes King. That’s awful goddammed tempting.
    And if he loses, then all of America loses, and loses big time. So his attitude is that we should all be pulling like mad for him to succeed, once he’s committed us, we got no choice but to give 110% for him, because the consequences of failure will be so appalling.
    So its perfect. Victory is Bush’s, failure will be America’s.

    Reply

  32. John says:

    Where all is explained: Iraq Policy 101
    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/46602/
    Funny how Steve, Leverett, and the Foreign Policy /National Security Mafia just couldn’t find a way to articulate this to us!
    Carroll, I didn’t know you worked for Shell and Fluor!

    Reply

  33. Marky says:

    I think one more time the Democrats and public are blindsided because they did not foresee how unreasonable Bush could be. Over and over, the lesson of Bush’s Presidency is that the only limits to his power are self-imposed; furthermore, if anyone suggests a constraint on said power, Bush feels obliged to demonstrate otherwise.
    Want to see public execution of dissenters in this country? Just try suggesting to this gang that they can’t do it.
    Rabid animals is what they are.

    Reply

  34. ... says:

    JB qoute >>If one didn’t know better one would think from all the postulating that the U.S. was morally clean just because of its proudly promoted statements about “freedom” and “democracy”.
    It is really sickening.<<
    my sentiments as well..

    Reply

  35. Den Valdron says:

    A couple of thoughs.
    First, Mark: A secret executive order a copy of which leaked within 48 hours wouldn’t be much of a secret. I’m prepared to assume some discipline in terms of its distribution and handling. They’re not letting ice cream guys see it. I assume its going to specific generals, officers and operatives on a top secret basis, with ‘tells’ included so that they can track any document back to its leaker. The reality is that if the document itself does leak, someone is going to have to come forward and throw away his career.
    Caroll, just because Israeli troops performed poorly in unconventional warfare against Hezbollah, don’t sell them short. In conventional warfare, they’d roll right through Syria in a matter of days. For Bush’s purpose, this may be all he needs. Take out Syria, and Lebanon and Hezbollah dies on the vine, his Iraqi flank is secure, and all he has to worry about is taking down Iran.
    Iraq is not necessarily in real danger. American air power can suppress any ground offensive from Iran. So the issue there is potentially internal uprisings, but that’s it.
    As for Iran… well, if aerial bombardment doesn’t do the trick, a nuke or two will. And after that? When Bush has done his hat trick of winning a war with two countries, he will figure he’s untouchable. Fait accompli. He made the reality, the rest of us will just study it, and while we’re studying, he’ll move again.
    This may be how they’re thinking.

    Reply

  36. JB (not John Bolton) says:

    I continue to be astonished, not to say outraged, at the blithe self-absorption of those who say it is up to the Iraqi’s to take responsibility of their own affairs.
    Who took the actions that led to this quagmire in the first place?
    Hagel’s statement is typical. It says, “We have already given four years, thousands of lives, and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Iraq” as though it was all milk and honey, when in reality it has been blood, thunder and chaos.
    Again and again, references to what the U.S. has “spent” with never a reference – never – to the cost to Iraq itself in death and destruction that the U.S. adventure has brought about.
    If one didn’t know better one would think from all the postulating that the U.S. was morally clean just because of its proudly promoted statements about “freedom” and “democracy”.
    It is really sickening.

    Reply

  37. Carroll says:

    Another clue?
    “The Senate and the House of Representatives gave their approval to double the emergency equipment the United States stores in Israeli stockpiles. Within the next two years the Americans will fill the military emergency stockpiles in Israel with double the equipment they now hold.
    In addition, the US will allow Israel to use the remainder of the US’s monetary guarantees given to them that have not been used yet, and add up to USD 4.5 billion, by 2011.
    The emergency stockpiles are meant to store American military equipment in the Middle East in case of an emergency. However, in case of an emergency, Israel is allowed to use the stockpiles.
    The bill was approved by the Senate and House and it renewed authority to transfer equipment to be stored in Israel.
    A great portion of the American equipment stored in Israel last year was used for combat in the summer war in Lebanon.”
    >>>>>>>>
    This “stockpiling” in Israel has been going on for many years but this recent bill passed for increases is out of sync with the normal timing of increases. So….is this another sign of our Iran intentions? I think it is clear after Lebanon that Israel’s military is of no use to the US as fighting ground forces. Common sense also says that the US would not use Israel as any kind of base or launching ground ..or would we? What is the purpose of this? Is it just another off schedule giveaway or does it have to do with Iran?

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  38. John says:

    I expect a substantial escalation against Iran and Syria sooner rather than later. If fact, it will occur before Congress can get its act together to preempt it.
    Neocons are well schooled in Israeli tactics. Instead of acting and begging foregiveness later, Israel establishes new facts on the ground and forces the world to deal with the new situation. No regrets, no apologies.
    The only question is the reaction…
    If China sees the US trying to corner the world’s energy supply, asymmetric warfare could start up again in a whole bunch of places that happen to supply the US with oil, particularly in Africa, perhaps even in places like Mexico, where unrest is churning just below the surface.

    Reply

  39. memekiller says:

    “Obama” is only one letter different from “Osama”! Why aren’t we discussing this?

    Reply

  40. Bill R. says:

    Steve,
    All of this is worrying as we know that plans have been in the works for attacking Iran, apparently with nuclear tipped bunker busters. I heard similar concerns being expressed by Zbigniew Brezinski on the Newhour last nigght. It is clear that the Bush administration is a “rogue regime” and there is no one to stop them except by impeachment or by military coups. Public opinion is of little concern to them. What can be done?

    Reply

  41. noone says:

    When traveling to Iran, make sure to pack the Iron Cloaca

    Reply

  42. Marky says:

    The “surge” is NCLB for the Middle East.
    Just as the actual purpose of No Child Left Behind was to create stringent conditions, without funding to carry them out, in order to be able to classify public schools as “failing”, Bush’s speech is a “No Country Left Behind” which makes a confrontation with Iran over their “meddling” in Iraq inevitable.
    We’ll surge from No Country Left Behind to Lahaye’s and Jenkin’s Left Behind shortly afterwards—all according to plan, of course.
    I asked yesterday about treaty obligations to defend Iran. Surely some exist.. does anyone know about these? Of course as a practical matter, China and Russia are not going to stand by idly.

    Reply

  43. Carroll says:

    Zbigniew Brzezinski agrees. He said in the WP…..
    “The decision to escalate the level of the U.S. military involvement while imposing “benchmarks” on the “sovereign” Iraqi regime, and to emphasize the external threat posed by Syria and Iran, leaves the administration with two options once it becomes clear — as it almost certainly will — that the benchmarks are not being met.
    One option is to adopt the policy of “blame and run”: i.e., to withdraw because the Iraqi government failed to deliver.
    That would not provide a remedy for the dubious “falling dominoes” scenario, which the president so often has outlined as the inevitable, horrific consequence of U.S. withdrawal.
    The other alternative, perhaps already lurking in the back of Bush’s mind, is to widen the conflict by taking military action against Syria or Iran.
    It is a safe bet that some of the neocons around the president and outside the White House will be pushing for that. Others, such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman, may also favor it.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Everyone is talking about how “scared” Bush looked as he was speaking. Why was he scared? Was it because he was semi-announcing a war on Iran?
    Is Bush truely crazy & stupid or is he afraid of something or somebody(s) else? We might be looking at the kid who talked tough in front of his friends and now that the time is here to carry out his tough talk he is nervous.
    Let’s face it, no one in the world agrees with engaging Iran except the neos and the Israelis. So how is a small cabal like them controling the WH? Is it just Cheney’s crew? If Bush were anywhere near reality the intervention of Baker would have had some impact , the fact that americans oppose any further action in the ME would have some impact, but apparently neither of these has affected Bush decisions in the slightest.
    I think we have passed beyond all discussions of “policy”. We can only draw two conclusions.
    We either have an mentally incompetent president or the same neo cabal still in control of the WH.
    And with Bush’s obsession on “winning” I think the surge “trial” is not for the option of pulling out when it fails but is for the purpose of engaging Iran.
    They will most likely gradually esculate the Iran encounters and provocations until some americans are killed in an encounter and then our knee jerk congress will fall in line and behind confronting Iran.

    Reply

  44. ... says:

    gridlock in washington by people dropping their apathy and sgoing to washington to stage a prolonged protest in the city seems to be one response that might produce some results. that was justin raimondos suggestion and i think it is a good one.

    Reply

  45. Edward Nashton says:

    Excellent job Steve covering this issue so substantially. The minute folks take their eyes off of it, we’ll be dropping bombs on Iran.
    From what I understand, the administration is going to shop this Quds Force “study group” document that was supposedly seized in the arrests last month. It is discussed in this article from ELI LAKE (dubious reporter) at the NY SUN http://www.nysun.com/article/46032

    Reply

  46. leveymg says:

    Steve –
    It’s been 24 hours since you posted that the town in abuzz with rumours of a secret Exec. Order declaring military operations against Iran and Syria. Okay. Where is it?
    I’ve seen no other reports of any such Exec Order.
    The Senators spoke out loud and clear yesterday — as a bipartisan body (boy, that’s a major change) — that they do not support any incursion into Iran. Gen. Pace also confirmed that the U.S. military is employing other means instead of crossing the border into Iran to deal with alleged arms smuggling. NOTE: again, Pace didn’t directly confirm these charges, and wouldn’t go any further than to say that some Iranians are “complicitous”, according to the WaPo report.
    You know, there is another explanation for these rumours and threats. It’s psychological warfare to keep Iran from jumping too fast into its new western province. See, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/1/10/121241/862
    Here’s Bush’s actual signal to Tehran – “Wait until we’ve vacated the area, and it’s yours.” Good work, Brownie.
    If any such Exec Order was distributed at the Pentagon or CIA, we all know it would have leaked by now. What a travesty.
    – Mark

    Reply

  47. DonS says:

    I think, boys and girls, we are already inside Iran (haven’t there been rumors of clandetine ops for over a year anyway?)
    Sen Hegel questions Rice with the specific reference to Cambodia (wink, wink), and Condi dissembles.
    Chris Matthews let’s Tony Snow off the hook after pressing him to deny Iran is a target (just so he can brag after the fact perhaps)
    And the speech itself: ” . . .Iran and Syria. . . .are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq . . . We will disrupt the attacks . . .We will interrupt the . . .And we will seek out and destroy the networks . . . .”
    No one can tell me that Bush will not, post hoc, say we were specifically informed that “networks” were legitimate targets. Networks are as diaphenous and dispersed as, well, as the decider decides. They certainly cross borders.

    Reply

  48. appalled says:

    Before the last Presidential election I told friends that if I fell off a boat in the middle of the ocean and Bush sailed by and offered to rescue me, I’d say, no thanks, I think I’ll take my chances. I was only half joking. This administration is dangerous in every way, from their clinical paranoid view of the world to their profound incompetence to business ties with the military industrial complex and oil, which make profiteering an unspoken motive behind every decision. And that’s a partial list that doesn’t even include their cynical ties with the militant and messianic religious right. Over the last six years, the Bush Administration has poisoned everything its touched by enthusiastically decimating all checks and balances both in the government and regarding commerce. The result has been a wanton disregard for the health and welfare of the citizens of the world and particularly, the United States.
    Chuck Hagel’s assessment of the President’s speech was actually an understatement. In the moment he forgot to mention that the war itself was the first mistake and that the worst case scenerio could be one to come if military operations are launched against Syria and Iran. Now is the time for Congress to use the last six years as evidence of the obvious — the lunatics have taken over the asylum. It only took a few books and a hard look at the personalities involved for me to conclude, as a citizen, that detouring out of Afghanistan and into Iraq was a bad idea, but at that point it was still possible to believe that some politicians genuinely felt that Saddam had to go and that the Bush Administration was capable of expediting that mission in a competent fashion. Six years on, that naive view of their intentions is criminally negligent.
    The President’s speech showed that in the face of the possibility that his delusional plans might be thwarted, he is perfectly willing to throw caution to the wind and go for broke. His speech was not just putting Iran and Syria, or the rest of the world on notice, but the American people, which means he is effectively daring us to stop him. And that is exactly what Congress, with the support of the majority of Americans, must do. And clearly we must do so quickly and without hesitation.

    Reply

  49. Grand Moff Texan says:

    “It fits in with the administration’s escalating campaign — encompassing rhetoric and detentions of Iranian officials in Iraq — to blame Iran for a strategically significant part of the ongoing instability and violence in Iraq.”
    Of course they have to blame their failure on some other power. An occupation that ignored the advice of military and intelligence professionals (not to mention the Brits), one that was run by Heritage Foundation Nixon-larvae more intent on illegally selling off national enterprises and changing Iraq’s copywrite laws while stealing over 8 billion dollars of CPA funds CAN’T POSSIBLY have screwed up the occupation.
    No, must’ve been the stinky brown people all along. It’s always their fault.
    .

    Reply

  50. erichwwk says:

    Check out this OPed by Schultz, Kissinger, Perry, et al at the Wall Street Journal:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116787515251566636.html?
    thanks to Greg Mello, lasg,org

    Reply

  51. Pissed Off American says:

    Buchanan wieghs in……..
    http://www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=10308
    An excerpt……
    So, where are they? Answer: inside Syria and Iran. And Bush says we are going to “seek out and destroy” these networks.
    Which suggests to this writer that, while the “surge” is modest, Bush has in mind a different kind of escalation – widening the war by attacking the source of instability in the region: Tehran.

    Reply

  52. Marcia says:

    Now that the oil companies are about to force the Iraqi government to sign over oil rights for 75 years, now that the sea of oil just under the sand is almost theirs, there is probably NOTHING they will not do.
    Iran is surrounded. They can fabricate whatever “Maine” event they need to set off hostilities. Oil producing countries are turning to the euro. What will China do? Russia must be delighted to see the US bogged down in the ME.
    What will it take for Congress to act before it is too late? More than our undiplomatic posts on the net.
    What is to be Negroponte’s next job? It is creepy to see this death squad leader in the inner workings of the secret services.
    It goes on and on, the madness never ends.

    Reply

  53. Dennis says:

    Bush is exposed – “the emperior has no clothes.”
    Congress, however, is no better.
    While it is impossible to literally bring the troops home “today”, so to speak, there is nothing “today” to prevent Congress from a resolution to that effect except its usually dilly-dallying around with “political as usual”.
    In the meantime, Bush widens the war, using the military like it’s his own private army and more American soldiers are needlessly killed.
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

    Reply

  54. erichwwk says:

    Aunt Deb-
    You are right on target with your perception of the greatest danger of the neocons. The very FIRST UN Res. deals with the problem posed by the atomic bomb, the intent being to reduce the nuclear stockpile to zero, and put the nuclear material under international control. Some in the US saw the bomb as an opportunity to unilaterally impose its will on the world, and attempt to secure nuclear superiority instead.
    It is this group, begun with Edward Teller, Joe Nitze, and Andrew Marshall that spawned the current neocons, through Wolhlstetter and Sen. Jackson, and his aides Wolfowitz and Perle. Recent purges in the WH, including Robert Gates, all reflect the view you suggest, that the US must be the sole nuclear super power, that there will be an opportunity after the USSR breaks up, to win a nuclear war and establish US hegemony, for once and all.
    All current DOD purges and replacements reflect this view, as do the actions on land and sea, including the demonization of Iran, attacks on an embassy of theirs (symbolic of a 1979 incident), passage on a nonsense UN Security Council Res. against Iran, placement of Naval assets, changing the Nuclear Posture review to grant the executive the right to use nuclear weapons preemptively, designing new tactical weapons under the guise of the Reliable Replacement Warhead, simulating that design with a conventional explosion
    (Divine Strake), etc., etc.
    But, I do believe enough in Congress now recognize all that. While no one can forsee the future, and these folks may still have the chutzpa to proceed, it appears to me probable this would be contained quite early. What is needed now, as Sen. Webb suggested yesterday, is for the US to move forward with a nuclear policy that reflects the endeavors of Reagan and Gorbachev, and is base on what is good about humanity, rather than what is bad. The New American Foundation has just such a vehicle, looking for a director of
    Nuclear Strategy, and Nonproliferation Initiative.
    I hope Steve at least sees that contact with Greg Mello, of the Los Alamos Study group is initiated, if not as a candidate, at least in terms of what must be included in the skills of the director, and in the scope of that initiative. For all those interested in that initiative, their site is lasg.org.

    Reply

  55. Pissed Off American says:

    BTW, where the hell is that sick scheming bastard Cheney?

    Reply

  56. DonS says:

    All the experts here, and even the Congress critters seem to read the obvious.
    Overseas, for instance, in this Independent article the tone is at least as grave if not moreso; calling the raid on the Iranian office in Northern Iraq a tantamount to “a declaration of war”.
    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article2145136.ece
    The groundwork is indeed being laid for further actions against Iran, and Syria (?).
    I wonder do we, or any of those connected here, have some even more inside information about what Bush is being fed, what he believes, what he intends. But maybe that’s just voyeristic curiosity on my part; we see the signals as clearly as we saw them in the runup to Iraq, and the administration isn’t taking much trouble not to telegraph their threats. It takes the overly credulous to credit the administration as using threat as an extension of diplomacy (what diplomacy) rather than a prelude to use of open force.
    The only meaningful question is can Bush’s belligerancy be thwarted? On that I am pessemistic.

    Reply

  57. mlaw230 says:

    In hind sight, it appears that a regional war has been in the plans for quite a while. It may be the reason the Israel/Lebanon conflict occurred when it did and why they dropped all of those cluster bombs just as they were withdrawing,- shores up their northern border.
    I had hoped we could stagger through the balance of the Prsident’s term. Regrettably we can not afford to do so, he has to be removed before he gets several hundred thousand more killed.
    As I have mentioned in the past, Congressional withdrawal of the AUMF would at least give military leaders a foundation for refusing to follow orders on Iran. I simply do not understand why no such action is being taken.

    Reply

  58. erichwwk says:

    Clio-
    Bush/Cheney would not be panicked, if the odds were not that an attack on Iran (however instigated), would be effectively thwarted.
    No, while there is not yet a detailed plan, it is now clear to me an escalation of the war into Syria or Iran will precipitate a Constitutional Crisis (in Biden’s words). One cannot listen to yesterdays speeches by Senators addressed to the world, using Condi Rice as a vehicle, and not be impressed with the united front displayed by Republicans and Democrats alike, to FINALLY make clear (in Biden’s word’s- “lay down the marker”) how strongly that would be opposed. To me revocation of the AUMF was being floated,and that balloon SOARED.
    Hagel set the tone, and Biden,Voinovich, Webb, Boxer, all supported “enough is enough”. Listen to the hearing in its entirity.
    SO KUDOS to Steve, Flyntt, Nir, Peter, Michael, Josh, POA, Carroll, POA, and all the other wonderful folk at TWN that have contributed to changing the tide. While still our foreign policy is still worrisome, it is no longer hopeless. When history of this era is finally written, I do believe the importance of TWN will be recognized for the role it played in stopping the Neocon era.

    Reply

  59. Aunt Deb says:

    There was a story yesterday about the ‘surprising’ slowness of Iran in developing its nuclear ‘program’. US experts were said to be ‘surprised’, at least. Perhaps this is a clue to the ‘window of opportunity’ this administration thinks exists: we can attack Iran now with minimal threat of nuclear response. Whatever. I’m sure there is some sort of extremely tortured reasoning going on somewhere in the bog thatis the current White House. But the reality is that there is no more reason to attack Iran than there was to attack Iraq. The reason we did so was because these people now in power wanted to do it and thought they could get away with it. And so far, they’ve been proven correct.
    The supposed strictures on executive power represented by Congress or the people are simply annoying artifacts from an era that needs to be by-gone, in the eyes of these folks.

    Reply

  60. confused says:

    Does the placement of our Patriot missile batteries identify which countries are providing land bases for any attack on Iran?

    Reply

  61. Daveg says:

    Interesting how the controversy regarding Wes Clark’s statement to Arianna Huffinton is snowballing. The statement was that he is confident that we are going to bomb Iran because “there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.”
    With people like Wes (who is half Jewish) making statements like this it is almost a full meltdown for “The Lobby”. The only people who don’t know the Zionist community is pushing us into the war with Iran are the people who don’t want to know.
    See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/dc-notes-wes-clark-is-_b_37837.html

    Reply

  62. clio says:

    Yes, I agree. It seems to me that Bush/Cheney are panicked not by the country’s disapproval, but by the possibility of failing to enable an attack on Iran.
    This is madness, but I have yet to see a coherent plan to stop it.

    Reply

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