Will Bush Bomb Iran?


I think not, at least not in the way that those asserting that Bush will bomb Iran have been arguing. I make my case in a piece titled “Why Bush Won’t Bomb Iran” that ran as the lead on Salon.com yesterday.
I worry a great deal about various players to loyal to Dick Cheney and/or to the IRGC/Al Quds force in Iran trying to trigger a quick escalation of conflict that circumvents the national security decision-making structure that surrounds Bush — or alternatively Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei.
What may be cooking is an effort to trigger purposefully an accidental war, but I don’t believe that Bush is part of that. Views at Salon.com in reaction to my piece have been running about 3 to 1 against my perspective,
Here are some others who have commented on the subject:

Scott MacLeod at Time
Julian Borger at The Guardian
Thomas P.M. Barnett’s Blog
Christy Hardin Smith at Fire Dog Lake
Scott Horton at Antiwar.com Radio
Matthew Yglesias
Taylor Marsh
Brian Beutler

Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy‘s Passport Blog

John Byrne at Raw Story
William Hartung at TPM Cafe
Ezra Klein at the American Prospect‘s Tapped

Moira Whalen at Democracy Arsenal

SusanUnPC at No Quarter
Tom Engelhardt at The Nation
Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish

There are many I have missed — but the discourse and further commentary on these blogs challenge and complement the arguments I make. I can’t think of a topic more important to seriously work through right now.
For other sources on the debate, here is a roster of linked pieces at Tailrank.com, Bloglines.com, and Technorati.
I’ll have more on this later — and I look forward to constructive exchanges with readers about this subject. And yes, I know many of you disagree.
But it’s the last paragraph of the article that we really should be organizing against and exposing:

We should also worry about the kind of scenario David Wurmser floated, meaning an engineered provocation. An “accidental war” would escalate quickly and “end run,” as Wurmser put it, the president’s diplomatic, intelligence and military decision-making apparatus. It would most likely be triggered by one or both of the two people who would see their political fortunes rise through a new conflict — Cheney and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
That kind of war is much more probable and very much worth worrying about.

More soon.
— Steve Clemons


13 comments on “Will Bush Bomb Iran?

  1. Kathleen says:

    On that last paragraph, welcome to the fringe… the rest of us have been there for years. David Wurmser.. John Bolton’s right hand man, on loan to DickFace. As you know, I’ve always felt that Revoltin Bolton outed Plame to Dick Face through Wurmser and Hannah because she was on the WMD thing in Iran.
    When Democraps were whimpering about “No exit strategy”, I said they had no exit strategy because they never intended to leave and would foment a war with Iraq’s neighbors, Iran and Syria. Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. W stands for Wall to Wall War.
    More important than an exit strategy in the ME is their “No exit strategy” from Washington, D.C. Dopey and Dick Face already have their 08 Halloween costumes ready. They’re gonna be the Dynamic Duo, Dick Tator and his big Dick.
    Now that Hillary is calling Darth, Darth, I have to call him Dick Face. Darth is sooooooo yesterday. It takes a village to impeach an idiot, Hillary.


  2. Dana Garrett says:

    Whether the USA attacks Iran through design or through the contrivance of a staged “accident” by a faction within the administration, shouldn’t we be pressing the point that the cited casus belli of Iran’s nuclear weapons capability or designs are as fraudulent as the WMD claims the USA government made for attacking Iraq? Shouldn’t we be citing, ad nauseam if necessary, the IAEA’s definitive findings that Iran is NOT enriching uranium at levels even remotely consistent with a nuclear weapons program or with the ambitions for one? Shouldn’t we point people to letters like the one sent to the House Intelligence committee last year which cites that finding in unambiguous terms?
    Shouldn’t we cite as well the recent comments by Mohamed ElBaradei that “We have not seen any weaponization of their program, nor have we received any information to that effect — no smoking gun or information from intelligence.” … “Based on the evidence, we have, we do not see … a clear and present danger that requires that you go beyond diplomacy.”
    Surely, the American people understand the concept of a lie and would have no trouble believing that liars often lie more than once.


  3. Punchy says:

    Mr. Clemons;
    I’m confused by why others think it so difficult to start this war. We don’t have to. Israel does.
    If/when Israel starts the bombing, Iran is sure to respond. That automatically and immediately puts us in the war, no matter what Congress says/does.
    Simple, really.


  4. Geoff C says:

    forgive my naivity, but isn’t there an urgent need for the Congress to send a very clear and ongoing message to the VP & the WH, that another act of war such as a ‘pre-emptive’ strike against Iran without the approval of Congress, will have consequences, including impeachment. I am now truly on shaky ground, but if it is possible to prosecute the perpetrators after they leave office, ie. when the Dems have a fillibuster-proof majority, then they should be promised that’s exactly what will happen. It’s too late after the attack to threaten ’em.


  5. John Shreffler says:

    Yes, it was in the Lobe at the opening to his section 3. How is it that Wurmser could still be in the OVP if Bush didn’t agree with Cheney?


  6. John Shreffler says:

    I’m getting senile or am having information overload. Just re-read the Lobe piece cited above and didn’t see the bit on Wurmser still being around ar OVP in it. Will send you the link when I find it.


  7. John Shreffler says:

    A great article. Congratulations. The real issue is how much, if any, daylight there s between Bush and Cheney. Perhaps none: Wurmser is still working in Cheney’s office, according to Jim Lobe:
    You should add this one to your link list above as Jim give your Salon piece a very thoughtful treatment. My own take is that there’s something profoundly not right in the White House, Cheney seems to be playing Rasputin to Bush’s Nicholas II. Also keep in mind that our black ops in Iran are being run via MEK operatives. The MEK has been around for a while and they have their own agenda, which is war. It would be real easy for Mossad (who has the same agenda) to co-opt them into a Gleiwitz style provocation against US troops just inside the Iraq-Iran frontier. Anyhow thanks again, your article has stirred up a lot of very useful discussion. This is crucial. Brzezinski has it exactly right as to the consequences of such a strike: it ends our global position and for good.


  8. Sandy says:

    “Bush’s wars are about American hegemony, not oil. The oil companies did not write the neoconservatives’ “Project for a New American Century,” which calls for US/Israeli hegemony over the entire Middle East, a hegemony that would conveniently remove obstacles to Israeli territorial expansion.
    The oil industry asserted its influence AFTER the invasion. In his book, ARMED MADHOUSE, BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast documents that the US oil industry’s interest in Middle Eastern oil is very different from grabbing the oil. Palast shows that the American oil companies’ interests coincide with OPEC’s.
    The oil companies want a controlled flow of oil that results in steady and high prices. Consequently, the US oil industry blocked the neoconservative plan, hatched at the Heritage Foundation and aimed at Saudi Arabia, to use Iraqi oil to bust up OPEC.
    Saddam got in trouble because one moment he would cut production to support the Palestinians and the next moment he would pump the maximum allowed. Up and down movements in prices are destabilizing events for the oil industry. Palast reports that a Council on Foreign Relations report concludes: Saddam is a “destabilizing influence . . . to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East….” (clip)


  9. Carroll says:

    All I see is that “Attack Iran” has taken on a life of it’s own, just like “Attack Iraq” did.
    If it wasn’t for all the dead innocent people and damage to the enviroment that would result I would be praying for the US to attack Iran just for the pleasure of seeing the neo’s, the Israelis and congress all hanging from DC lamposts long before the blowback from this war ever ended.


  10. Carroll says:

    I still do not get why you think that Cheney or Ahmadineyad would be the only two or main ones behind “that kind of accidential war”.
    Listen, everyone who knows anything, knows that Iran is not a threat to the US proper with their current missile range, nukes or no nukes.
    So that leaves only two “interest” in the ME for the US to even talk about….”control” of the region by the US which nicely goes along with creating even more terriers so that we never leave….and the Israel fetish factor.
    So riddle me this..who do you think beside Cheney and Ahmadineyad would like to see this never ending forever after US presence in the ME that an Iran attack would cause come about?
    The only two groups I can think of who would think this could possibily work to their favor are AQ and Israel…and AQ is the smarter of the two.


  11. JohnH says:

    From what I saw, there were two key points in Steve’s fine article:
    1) The costs are too high
    2) Our intelligence is very sketchy
    Therefore we don’t know what the costs would be. Can we even guess what Iran’s response would be? Many talk about an asymmetric response using proxies; others suggest one that would try to close access to the Gulf for oil shipments.
    But Washington’s dirty BIG secret is that Persian Gulf policy is largely driven by oil. (Greenspan acknowledged what Kucinich was derided for saying!) So why wouldn’t that be Iran’s target. We know that Iran targeted Iraq’s oil complexes and export facilities during their war.
    Why wouldn’t they do it again? An attack with cruise missiles on Saudi Arabia’s export facilities would be hard to defend and would be devastating to the West given the tightness of oil markets and the shakiness of the world financial system.
    Are these the costs that are being discussed? Is Iran’s capability to inflict such damage one of the biggest unknowns? And if these costs and unknowns are not being discussed, shouldn’t they be?


  12. dan says:

    Will a war now help the GOP in ’08?
    Will a war now help the neocons accomplish part of their goals before they get booted out of DC ?
    I don’t put it past Bush and Cheney to start a war if they think it can help Mitt Romney or Rudi win the election. The GOP knows they can’t win back the house and the senate next year but the big prize is still very much in play. A shooting war might help them. Remember Karl Rove wanted to use the Iraq invasion as their primary weapon against Democrats. Anything is possible w/ Cheney and Bush, 2 very unstable human beings on planet.
    The neocons will also want to start a war if they think it will be their last chance before scooting out of DC with their tails between their behind.
    I think the odds is 70-30 that Bush will order a bombing campaign after the primaries.


  13. John Bowlus says:

    I worry about a potential proxy war in Lebanon. Obviously the target – Iranian nuclear facilities – are not there, but it could be the accidental war the region seems on the perch of entering.


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