The Next War Draws NearerDEPARTMENT No Comment
BY Scott Horton
PUBLISHED August 23, 2007
Hardly a week passes in which I don’t get a message from someone within the great bureaucratic wasteland on the Potomac about the Bush Administration’s latest schemes relating to war against Iran. Now we’re going through another one of those periods in which the pace is quickening and the pitch is becoming more intense. I continue to put the prospects for a major military operation targeting Iran down as “likely,” and the time frame drawing nearer. When will Bush give the go ahead? I think late this year or early next would be the most congenial time frame from the perspective of the war party. Some of the developments that go into my call:
* Labeling the Revolutionary Guards as ‘Terrorists.’ Last week the Bush Administration floated the idea that it would schedule Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (an official part of the Iranian government) as a terrorist organization. This is related to the Administration’s propaganda drive to portray the Revolutionary Guard as deeply engaged in training terrorists in Iraq. (Iran is deeply engaged in outfitting and supporting factions loyal to it in Iraq, as is Saudi Arabia and other states.) Of course, the Revolutionary Guards answer directly to Supreme Leader Khamenei, so in taking this position, the Bush Administration is essentially saying that it has decided to ditch an initiative that focuses on skirting Ahmadinejad by going directly to Khamenei—that is, it is limiting its diplomatic options, yet again. No real surprise there, since it’s clear—notwithstanding statements from Condoleezza Rice about the exhaustion of diplomatic approaches—that the White House (read: Dick Cheney) places no store whatsoever in a diplomatic effort for Iran.
* Preparation for a ‘Dirty War’? The branding of the Revolutionary Guard as terrorists raises troubling prospects with respect to targeting and military operations in Iran. Based on prior Bush Administration postures (adopted with respect to the Taliban, and units of Saddam Hussein’s military), it would mean that they are denied Geneva Convention protections in the coming war and could be treated to “highly coercive interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture) if captured. In sum, it looks like the Bush Administration is busily preparing for another “dirty war.”
* Costing for Ground Operations in Iran. In the last two weeks the Department of Defense has begun pushing regular contractors very aggressively for “unit costs” to be used for logistical preparations for reconstruction and ground operations in a certain country of West Asia. In the last week, the requests have gotten increasingly harried. And what, exactly, is the country in question? Iran.
* ‘There Will Be an Attack on Iran.’ Former senior CIA analyst Bob Baer has a piece in the current Time Magazine called “Prelude to an Attack on Iran.” Baer also sees a quickening pace and an increasing likelihood of a sustained military assault on Iran, driven by the Neocons. Baer develops the scenario, showing how the Revolutionary Guards will be portrayed as terrorists, they will be linked to armor-penetrating projectiles used in Iraq, and this will be taken as a pretext to wage a war against Iran. He quotes an Administration official who says these explosive devices “are a casus belli for this Administration. There will be an attack on Iran.”
* Bolton Wants Bombs in Six Months. John Bolton appeared on Fox News and was asked a question based on Bob Baer’s report. Bolton “absolutely hopes” it is true that bombs will start falling on Iran within six months.
* The Predictable Role of Fox News. Fox News is intimately intertwined with the Administration’s propaganda machine, as a study of its coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War shows (and similarly, its decision to all but pull the plug on more recent coverage of the dismal situation in Iraq). Producer Robert Greenwald has done a terrific summary of how Fox News continues a propaganda build-up to support military action against Iran which closely parallels what it did for its masters in the run-up to the Iraq War. Catch the video here.