Bush and Cheney have less than two years to go in their current role and want to go down in the history books as the heroes of the Pax Americana, as the men who managed to conquer the Middle East and its oil, as the men who took full-spectrum dominance seriously, while in their own country booking successes through exorbitant profits for the military-industrial complex and the realization of radical legislation. The prelude was long and the path was full of obstacles, but the goal of a third great war - a war with Iran - is increasingly within sight. Dan Plesch in The Guardian sums it up in one sentence: 'All the signs are that Bush is planning for a neocon-inspired military assault on Iran'.
'Americans don't have much time to realize this and to act before it is too late. Bush's "surge" speech last Wednesday night makes it completely clear that his real purpose is to start wars with Iran and Syria before failure in Iraq brings an end to the neoconservative/Israeli plan to establish hegemony over the Middle East', writes Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan. 'Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush's nationwide address, NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said "there's a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue â€” in the country and the world â€” in a very acute way"', writes Robert Parry.
Given the presence of four American submarines off the coast of Iran, Eduard Baltin, former commander of the Russian fleet, reasons that the U.S. is planning to attack Iran. Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, himself a presidential candidate for 2008, says: '"The President is clearly trying to provoke Iran," he said, adding that the Bush administration is "treading on the thinnest ice it has ever been on".' ING Wholesale Banking warns in their report [PDF] Attacking Iran that the financial markets could be in for 'a heavy shock' in the event of a preemptive attack on Iran. The report is practical as well; under the heading 'Top trades in the event of an attack on Iran', advice for buying and selling can be found, such as: 'Buy Oil and Gold, Sell industrial commodities'. Meanwhile the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is letting it be known that he disposes over the same devotion as his adversary Bush: '"Today, with the grace of God, we have gone through the arduous passes and we are ready for anything in this path," state-run television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying Thursday'.
Speculation over the beginning of the attack on Iran
In reference to the American raid on an Iranian consulate in Irbil, Northern Iraq, in which five Iranians were taken into custody, John Pike of Global Security points to the presence of two aircraft carriers in the Gulf (other warships are steaming in that direction) and to the surge-speech by George W. Bush, in which he announced that Patriot missiles would be deployed in member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), like Kuwait and Saudi-Arabia. 'Iran has denounced the Patriot deployment as part of U.S. plan to turn Arab countries into a front line of protection for Israel', writes Associated Press. Bush: 'We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.' Pike speaking to CNN: '[...] It's looks to me like the United States is, at least, raising its capabilities in preparation for possible military confrontation with Iran."' Pike considers it a strong possibility that this confronation will take place this year, and has even published a 'Countdown time line' with potential dates on which an attack is likely. In Pike's opinion, February of 2007 is a genuine possibility for a strike on Iran. February is also the month in which Ahmadinejad will be announcing progress with their nuclear program, and will also mark the end of the sixty-day period given to Iran in UN resolution 1713 [PDF] to bring an end to their nuclear program. On February 21st, the IAEA will deliver a report on Iran, something which Israel and the U.S. will again be able to seize upon when pointing to Iranian negligence.
The editor-in-chief of the Arab Times is expecting an attack before April: 'U.S. might launch a military strike on Iran before April 2007, Kuwait-based daily Arab Times released on Sunday said in a report. The report, written by Arab Times' Editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Jarallah citing a reliable source, said that the attack would be launched from the sea, while Patriot missiles would guard all Arab countries in the Gulf.' The Arab Times is basing its opinion on only one source. ING Wholesale Banking writes [PDF] in the preface to their report on Iran: 'We outline a scenario in which Israel attacks 5 or 6 of Iran's nuclear facilities in late February or March 2007, with strikes that may be completed within hours, days or at most weeks.'
What could also hasten an attack on Iran are two divergent realities, namely that the announced Tor-M1 air defense system is now being delivered to Iran, and that Bush's comrade-in-arms Tony Blair will be stepping down this year. In a recent announced that he wants to make more money available for the British army.
Banks putting Iran under pressure
The latest news doesn't portend anything good, but those who read between the lines can see that other preparations are also being made. Comparable to an extent with the No Fly Zone War, which preceded the latest war against Iraq, Iran is being softened up in advance: 'While people are concerned with Iraq and the gathering armada in the Persian Gulf, United States has been quietly carrying out a not so covert economic war against Iran', writes Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar. 'The attack on Iranian economy started in earnest in early 2006. United States began putting considerable pressure on international banks and financial institutions to cut their ties with Iran.
Countries also were pressured to reduce their economic contact with Iran. [...] Governments, companies and financial institutions are under intense pressure to terminate all dealings with Iran. But so far Iran has managed to sustain, albeit with great difficulty, its oil industry and financial institutions functioning.' Little by little banks are severing their ties with Iran: '"The reason: oil transactions are in dollar assets. To the extent that any banks have to convert their assets into dollars, they must use U.S. facilities and can be subject to U.S. sanctions", says Stuart Eizenstat, former American Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs to Michael Hirsh, who writes: 'Recently the Iranians have countered, threatening to do business in Euros, but one by one, European banks are falling under U.S. pressure as well. On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal reported that Commerzbank, Germany's second largest, will stop handling dollar transactions for Iranâ€”making it the last European bank to agree to do so.'
An argument often used against Iran concerns the aggressive pronouncement by its leader Mahmoud Ahmadinjehad that he would like to wipe Israel off the map. Jonathan Steel, columnist for The Guardian, has subjected this statement and the translations thereof to further investigation. He has inquired with the BBC, among others. Steel: 'As a result of my inquiry and the controversy generated, they [the BBC] had gone back to the native Farsi-speakers who had translated the speech from a voice recording made available by Iranian TV on October. Here is what the spokesman told me about the "off the map" section: "The monitor has checked again. It's a difficult expression to translate. They're under time pressure to produce a translation quickly and they were searching for the right phrase. With more time to reflect they would say the translation should be "eliminated from the page of history". [...] So there we have it. Starting with Juan Cole, and going via the New York Times' experts through MEMRI to the BBC's monitors, the consensus is that Ahmadinejad did not talk about any maps. He was, as I insisted in my original piece, offering a vague wish for the future.' Steel makes it clear that Ahmadinejad expressed a wish for a different government in Israel, not the destruction of Israel; 'He was not making a military threat'. The Jewish community in Iran isn't itching to flee either: only 152 of the 25,000 responded to calls from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Then there is also the statement by Ahmadinejad in which he denies the Holocaust, that the Holocaust would be a myth. Kein Krieg! checked into it and it appears that Ahmadinejad is critical of the exploitation of the Holocaust. So the subject of his feelings on this is not the Holocaust itself, but rather what he sees as the exploitation thereof. From his statements it would be more proper to infer that he acknowledges the Holocaust - not that he denies it. This is the complete inverse of his words, which was corrected by Kein Krieg!, but has already done its propagandistic job in the minds of the public at large. And speaking of propaganda: 'The American Jewish Committee took out a full page ad [PDF] in The New York Times showing Iran in the center of concentric circles, including all the Middle East and beyond, asking: "Can anyone within range of Iran's missiles feel safe?"' Ex-Premier and leader of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu: "The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany," said Netanyahu, reiterating his message from last month in Los Angeles.' Whereby it was noted: 'Except that 2003 was also 1938, when Natanyahu said the same thing about Iraq. [...] And while he's calling Mahmoud Ahmadinjad Hitler these days, in the past he had bestowed that honor on Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat.'
Cheney is operating on the same wavelength as Netanyahu: '"So the threat that Iran represents is growing," he [Cheney] said, in words reminiscent of how he once built a case against Mr. Hussein', writes The New York Times with subtlety.
Criticism of the neoconservative plans for Iran
Should it come to war, then the advice of Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Ronald Reagan, could end up being heeded. He is pleading for the impeachment of Bush as a way to prevent the war. Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a presidential candidate for 2008, is threatening impeachment if Bush declares war on Iran. The criticism by Roberts is in line with that of Republican Rep. Ron Paul, who warns that Bush could order a 'Gulf of Tonkin type situation', i.e. a false-flag operation, as an excuse to attack Iran. The Republican Senator Chuck Hagel: '"I will do everything I can to stop the president's policy as he outlined it (last) Wednesday night"', who together with two Democrats and a Republican has introduced a resolution opposing the plans of President Bush. The White House even dragged Al Qaida into it in order to take the sting out of the criticism. Bush: 'Asked if Congress could stop him from surging 21,500 troops into Iraq, Bush on 60 Minutes brushed aside Congress as irrelevant. "I fully understand [the Congress] could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward." Asked if he had sole authority "to put the troops in there no matter what the Congress wants to do," Bush replied, "In this situation I do, yeah."'
Republican Rep. Walter Jones is determined to carry through on his resolution H.J. Res 14: 'Our constitution states that--while the Commander in Chief has the power to conduct wars--only Congress has the power to authorize war', to which The Nation adds: 'Such a basic expression of the separation of powers should be obvious. But with the Bush Administration, one never knows.' The Wall Street Journal sees the seething criticism of Bush's plans as well and writes: 'Of more concern to U.S. lawmakers is the potential that these U.S. actions against Iran could escalate. Under one possible scenario, U.S. forces could cross into Iran or Syria in pursuit of suspected insurgents or their allies, or use alleged Iranian activities inside Iraq as a pretext for a wider assault on Iran. The fear is that any such military activities could ignite a wider conflict." The potential for sparking a wider conflict is great," said Trita Parsi, an Iran analyst and president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington. "I think that if we're going for a confrontation with Iran, the pretext will be Iraq."' Nicholas Burns sees it from a different perspective: 'Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said the administration is seeking to counter Iranian provocations across the region as part of a broader strategy. "Iran needs to learn to respect us," he said. "And Iran certainly needs to respect American power in the Middle East."'
War against Iran: Bush and Cheney have nothing to lose.
The decisions that Bush announced in his speech followed the replacement of the generals who were critical of some of the Bush policies, John Abizaid and George Casey, and John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence. This makes it clear that the neoconservative wind, after all the scandals and the dramatic turn of events in the war in Iraq, hasn't died down yet. Mainstream critic Keith Olbermann writes [video]: 'Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me" - only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake ... in Iran.' He compares Bush to the drunk who, beaten to the ground, asks who the next one is that wants a beating.
Bush and Cheney are again determined to defy the criticism in order to carry out an almost endless War against Terrorism: '"This is an existential conflict," Cheney said. "It is the kind of conflict that's going to drive our policy and our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years. We have to prevail and we have to have the stomach for the fight long term', says Cheney. War is not a means but an end in itself. Insurgents in Iraq aren't the problem, but those who oppose the war certainly are.
But those critics are out of the way now: The critical generals have been replaced and the voice of the people along with the the opinions of the soldiers in Iraq are being ignored; discussions with Iran and Syria are being rejected; Patriot missiles are on their way and could intercept an Iranian counterattack following an Israeli and/or American attack; the warships in the Gulf could respond to these attacks by bombing Iraq with full force; the announced troop escalation in Iraq could eliminate Iran's potential trump card - attacks on Americans in and around the Iraqi Green Zone; the Bush administration and the government of Prime Minister Olmert (following the debÃ¢cle in Lebanon) are doing very poorly in the opinion polls, thus a spectacular attack by Israel, followed by America, could likewise render spectacular results for the status of both heads of state. Bush and Cheney have taken a beating, but they have not been defeated. Moreover, they have nothing to lose.
The Coming War Against Iran - All parts in this series can be found here