Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Two Perspectives on Iran

David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt of The New York Times have the Bush Administration backing away from an attack on Iran at this time and Cenk Uygur of The Huffington Post seems to wonder if the Bush Administration accepts any restraint on its behavior. The truth probably lies somewhere in between and given the history of the Bush Administration, the truth is probably not a pretty picture.

Here's one of the key excerpts from The New York Times:
The issue remains delicate within an administration that has identified Iran as a major threat. The senior adviser who spoke candidly at last week's gathering did so only under ground rules that guaranteed him anonymity, and members of the audience reported his comments on the condition that they also not be identified.

"Is it a good thing for the Iranians to think there are occasions where the U.S. would use force? Sure," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who directed the Air Force's definitive study of the first war against Iraq. "But I don't get a sense that people in the administration are champing at the bit to launch another war in the Persian Gulf."

Others suggest that the vague drumbeat of talk about military action may be less aimed at Tehran than at China and Russia — two countries that have said they oppose even the threat of economic sanctions against Iran, much less threats to set back the Iranian program by obliterating its facilities.
If I had read paragraphs from similar people in Washington just ten years ago, I would have taken for granted that they knew what they were talking about. Given the recklessness and incompetence of the Bush Administration, can anyone be certain they're reading the situation correctly? These paragraphs do not reassure me.

The rhetoric in Cent Uygur's article in The Huffington Post, in my opinion, gets somewhat alarmist but then who is to say what is alarmist these days? These paragraphs particularly caught my attention:
...Seymour Hersh is reporting in The New Yorker that the Joint Chiefs will give a formal recommendation saying they are strongly opposed to the nuclear option in Iran. Luckily, not everyone in the government has lost their mind.

Unfortunately, Hersh is also reporting that the administration is considering this option very seriously. There are at least three top advisers of the president who have signed on to the idea of using nuclear weapons as a tactical part of our arsenal, including Stephen Hadley, our national security adviser. Over the weekend, the administration has been backing off their earlier aggressive public stance on this because of political pressure, but you will not be surprised to find out I don't believe them.

A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee says George Bush has a "messianic vision" in foreign policy. A government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon says that Bush believes no one else has the courage to act on Iran, so he must "save Iran," by, of course, bombing it. The president believes this will be his legacy. At least he's right about that.

Nuclear planners who are warning of radiation fallout, mass casualties and contamination over years, have already been "shouted down" in meetings. That's great, don't listen to the experts. Shouting down people who have actual facts and information - the Bush White House in a nut shell.

It was one thing to be catastrophically wrong about post-war planning in Iraq, it's another to be wrong about the consequences of nuclear war.
It should be noted that Bush needs authorization from Congress to launch a major strike against Iran when obviously there is no imminent threat and when obviously a nuclear or a conventional strike will mean another major war. Then again, Republicans who control Congress have chosen to look the other way when Bush, on several occassions, has shown a clear disregard for the US Constitution.

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