Monday, April 10, 2006

What if BushCo threw a war and no one came?

Cross posted at Daily Kos and front paged at Booman Tribune

In reading the Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker, one consistent theme is how batshit insane of an idea many, many, MANY people (and some very important people for that matter), think it is to bomb Iran.

And with all of the great diaries posted over the past couple of days and theories about why so much of this information is coming out now by different credible sources, you wonder just who, outside of the hardcore neocon group and Ahmadinejad himself, is really in support of this.

The amount of different authorities, countries, leaders, Pentagon officials, intelligence officials and others cited by Hersh as against military action, especially nuclear weapons used against Iran is staggering. At least BushCo lied, blackmailed and threatened its way into a "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. How can they do this with no support, not even from senior Pentagon officials?

We know that with this major push for conflict, bombing, war, whatever you want to call it, the ability to mitigate Iran's nuclear program was severly damaged by the leak of Plame's identity. We also hear from authorities including Hans Blix that Iran is years away from producing a weapon, and that Robert Gallucci, a former government expert on nonproliferation who is now the dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, recently said:

"Based on what I know, Iran could be eight to ten years away" from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon. Gallucci added, "If they had a covert nuclear program and we could prove it, and we could not stop it by negotiation, diplomacy, or the threat of sanctions, I'd be in favor of taking it out. But if you do it"--bomb Iran--"without being able to show there's a secret program, you're in trouble."

All this despite the fact that it seems as if it is 2002 and early 2003 all over again.

But there was nearly 70% support for invading Iraq as of June 2003. And there was an 87% approval level for the invasion of Afghanistan long after the bombing started. But early on, there was only a 42% support level for bombing Iran recently, and that number doesn't seem to be getting any higher. So there is little support at home, no support internationally (Europe, the UN, the IAEA, even the UK), and much dissent even within the highest levels of the Pentagon.

The amount of opposition to BushCo's latest proposed adventure, the apparent semi-reawakening and willingness of some in the press to actually do their jobs and report this opposition and the passion behind these objections made me really think that we are getting close to a tipping point where Dear Leader and his inner circle are running so scared and, being pinned in a corner, are going to do something real drastic to either save themselves or go out in an, um, blaze of shame "glory".

And it seems as though there is some momentum behind the disassociation and distancing from Bush and his inner crew. Hell, just this past weekend, my dad not only reiterated how corrupt and criminal this administration is, he laughed at Katherine Harris and will probably vote for Nelson in November, so the defections are starting to reach the true republican voters.

Back to the Hersh article though. For those of you who haven't read it, please take a few minutes and read it - you won't be disappointed. And even if you did, take note of the HUGE opposition to the "next central front in the WarOnTerrahTM, even to the point of mocking:

From a former defense official:

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government." He added, "I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, `What are they smoking?' "

Former senior intelligence official:

"Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout--we're talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don't have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out"--remove the nuclear option--"they're shouted down."

From a senior Pentagon Advisor:

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it "a juggernaut that has to be stopped." He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. "There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," the adviser told me. "This goes to high levels." The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. "The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks," the adviser said. "And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen."

Wow. The Joint Chiefs of Staff will formally advise the administration to NOT use the "nook-you-lur opshun". Direct comments that, in this 1984 world we are living in could be construed as being insubordinate to the Commander-in-Chief by top military officials. Would they (could they?) refuse orders to bomb suspected facilities and sites in Iran? Would that (could that?) be construed as some sort of coup?

Again from the senior Pentagon advisor:

"The Iranians have distributed their nuclear activity very well, and we have no clue where some of the key stuff is. It could even be out of the country," he said. He warned, as did many others, that bombing Iran could provoke "a chain reaction" of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world: "What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?"

Not a good outcome there...

Other experts as well: Joseph Cirincione, the director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

"The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war." He noted several parallels:

The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The U.S. Secretary of State tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The Secretary of Defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism.

Cirincione called some of the Administration's claims about Iran "questionable" or lacking in evidence. When I spoke to him, he asked, "What do we know? What is the threat? The question is: How urgent is all this?" The answer, he said, "is in the intelligence community and the I.A.E.A." (In August, the Washington Post reported that the most recent comprehensive National Intelligence Estimate predicted that Iran was a decade away from being a nuclear power.)

Or the IAEA....
The agency's officials believe that Iran wants to be able to make a nuclear weapon, but "nobody has presented an inch of evidence of a parallel nuclear-weapons program in Iran," the high-ranking diplomat told me. The I.A.E.A.'s best estimate is that the Iranians are five years away from building a nuclear bomb. "But, if the United States does anything militarily, they will make the development of a bomb a matter of Iranian national pride," the diplomat said.

What about our biggest partners in the "coalition of the willing"?

"The Brits think this is a very bad idea," Flynt Leverett, a former National Security Council staff member who is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center, told me, "but they're really worried we're going to do it." The European diplomatic adviser acknowledged that the British Foreign Office was aware of war planning in Washington but that, "short of a smoking gun, it's going to be very difficult to line up the Europeans on Iran." He said that the British "are jumpy about the Americans going full bore on the Iranians, with no compromise."


Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said last year that military action against Iran was "inconceivable."

Or Europe in general?

The Europeans are rattled, however, by their growing perception that President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney believe a bombing campaign will be needed, and that their real goal is regime change. "Everyone is on the same page about the Iranian bomb, but the United States wants regime change," a European diplomatic adviser told me.


Other European officials expressed similar skepticism about the value of an American bombing campaign. "The Iranian economy is in bad shape, and Ahmadinejad is in bad shape politically," the European intelligence official told me. "He will benefit politically from American bombing. You can do it, but the results will be worse." An American attack, he said, would alienate ordinary Iranians, including those who might be sympathetic to the U.S. "Iran is no longer living in the Stone Age, and the young people there have access to U.S. movies and books, and they love it," he said. "If there was a charm offensive with Iran, the mullahs would be in trouble in the long run."

Another European official told me that he was aware that many in Washington wanted action. "It's always the same guys," he said, with a resigned shrug. "There is a belief that diplomacy is doomed to fail. The timetable is short."

The drumbeats for bombing Iran seem to be falling on deaf ears. BushCo's credibility is at an all time low. More scandals and crimes are being linked back to the highest levels of the administration. There are high level resignations. Calls for censure are already resonating with the public. Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially from this dangerously incompetent crew. But what if no one buys into the same tired rhetoric? What if the opposition is so loud and so clear and at such high levels that there is no support? What can happen to BushCo if they still try to order bombings? What if more top level Pentagon, intelligence and military officials leave?

What if they threw a war and no one came?

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