The real answer is that no one knows. George Bush is holding his cards close and is not giving any indication as to his direction right now — other than keeping all options open.
What we do know now is that the military has not signed off on an attack — though there are huge force levels deployed in the Gulf that could support a short-term military assault. But if the Pentagon had been ordered to position itself for a date-certain attack, we’d be hearing more than we are. Defense Secretary Bob Gates would be positioning himself differently than he is. We’d see generals who were disgusted with the way that Bush and Cheney have overextended the military begin to speak out, and even to resign. That has not happened.
We also know that neoconservative intellectuals feel that this is the time to lay the intellectual and political ground for bombing Iran. AEI’s Joshua Muravchik was out early with his admission that Iraq was a failure but now felt that bombing Iran required new urgency. Others like Michael Ledeen, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, Bill Kristol and others in the neocon camp are trying to inundate the nation’s op-ed pages with their calls for action against Iran and its nuclear facilities.
The Washington Post‘s Dan Froomkin is one of the key journalists, besides Seymour Hersh, who has been helping to lead efforts to expose and balance those who want to initiate yet another war in the Middle East. Froomkin has two great exposes out recently that need to be read in full — the first is a long profile on on Cheney and his gang’s effort to trip America into a war against Iran.
And the other is a roster of top tier experts — whose credentials are superlative — who should be called by any media researching and organizing stories on this subject.
George Bush has all his options open on Iran right now — and there is a vigorous, heated battle around the Oval Office to seduce the President’s soul on this.
It’s time that those who have been passive on the prospect of a US-Iran War wake up and get to work. The neocons are working vigrorously and have someone smack dab in the middle of the decisionmaking machinery angling for war as well.
The advocates of a saner approach are also part of the President’s team — but it’s clear that the momentum that they had in knocking back Cheney and his minions has stalled.
Rumors — that I don’t believe — are even swirling that Karl Rove resigned now in part because he didn’t want to be in the White House for all that it will take to manage a war against Iran. I don’t believe this is the case, but the way the rumor has spread is a manifestation of the tension between contending factions in the White House.
— Steve Clemons