November 20, 2006

So Is An Iran Attack Now Off The Table?

A big part of the post-mid-terms relief was the thought that an attack on Iran was now un-thinkable. I would have thought that headlines like these would spell the final nail in the Let's-Attack-Iran coffin:
CIA Analysis Finds Iran Not Developing Nuclear Weapons
But the headlines come from a new article by Sy Hersh in The New Yorker, and Hersh himself is not so sure:
If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put “shorteners” on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way...
As always with Hersh, the full article explores lots of angles, reveals lots of little nuggets, and is well worth reading. For example:
Another critical issue for Gates will be the Pentagon’s expanding effort to conduct clandestine and covert intelligence missions overseas. Such activity has traditionally been the C.I.A.’s responsibility, but, as the result of a systematic push by Rumsfeld, military covert actions have been substantially increased.
Hersh cites US and Israeli support for a Kurdish resistance group known as the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, which has been conducting clandestine cross-border forays into Iran. The group has been given a hit-list of targets, says Hersh. And because such covert operations are now run by the Pentagon, not the CIA, Congressional support is not needed.

It's still not clear just what Cheney & Co think an attack on Iran might accomplish. Here's one former CIA official:
“An American attack will paper over any differences in the Arab world, and we’ll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah fighting against us — and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West. It’s an analyst’s worst nightmare — for the first time since the caliphate there will be common cause in the Middle East.”
This Moir cartoon is three years old... what have we learned?


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