The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.
The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.”
If a week is a long time in politics, then two weeks must be forever in PR.
New Evidence Clouds U.S. Case against Iran: Two weeks ago, the Bush administration organized an intelligence briefing for journalists in Iraq to demonstrate that Iran was providing weapons to Iraqi insurgents. According to the anonymous briefers, the weapons — particularly explosively formed penetrators or E.F.P.s — were manufactured in Iran and provided to insurgents by the Quds Force — a fact that meant direction for the operation was “coming from the highest levels of the Iranian government.”
Well. A raid in southern Iraq on Saturday seems to have complicated the case.
It seems the Iraqis were making the stuff that the US had been saying could only have come from IraqIran. And from the markings on the boxes, it seems most of the key parts came straight from non-Iranian factories.
I hope the Times and Post put this on their front pages with the same prominence they gave the scare stories two weeks ago.
Further to my post yesterday, here's what the influential and mainstream Nelson Report (via Steve Clemons) has to say about sending three carrier groups to the Gulf:
On the other hand, increasing to three carrier strike groups would be noticeably more 'robust', belligerent and suggestive of intending or anticipating attack. The difference between two and three strike groups is huge. Two ='s strong and capable, but existing offensive intent is less probable; three ='s 'we don't care about provocation, we're preparing to fight in this new dimension'.
(An indicator would be to watch for announcements about Nimitz strike group; Nimitz reportedly has completed the routine pre-deployment work-up and is in San Diego.)
The US has eleven carriers (with #12 on the way). Sending three out of eleven to the Gulf is more than saber-rattling.
Worse, the Gulf is too small for three carrier groups to function effectively, and has one entrance/exit that is about 20 miles wide and runs along the Iranian coast. This creates a sitting duck effect — a 'target rich' environment for potential attackers. In other words, it's inviting Iran to take the bait, something that becomes increasingly likely the more that the Iranians come to believe that they are about to be attacked. (Which is undoubtedly the point of the US government media strategy.)
A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and NEWSWEEK has learned that a third carrier will likely follow.
A THIRD CARRIER? That would mean, presumably, a third carrier group.
Remember when the Bush administration piled all those troops outside of Iraq and many people refused to believe they would be told to attack?
There is no way I can imagine this bunch sending three carrier groups to the Gulf unless they plan to use them. Incidentally, the Gulf is a very small bit of water for one carrier group, not to mention three. And, I worry about them being, um, targets.