Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Polls Say It's Time for the Next War

If you're beset by bad press and falling poll ratings, what do you do if you're George W. Bush? You go to war, silly.

What most of us don't remember is that in the days preceding September 11, the press had just gotten wise to the fact that the administration's entire strategy for governing seemed to be tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. Bush's ratings were steadily dropping. Then came the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and Bush has been living off the collateral spike of a wartime president ever since.

So now that his ratings are the worst they've ever been -- among the worst of any president, for that matter -- his people are facing possible indictments and his presidency is in worse shape than the Chicago Cubs, what is he planning to do?

Yes, children. Attack Iran? Why not. Reports Dan Plesch in the London Guardian:
The conventional wisdom is that for both military and political reasons it would be impossible for Israel and the UK/US to attack and that, in any event, after the politically damaging Iraq war, neither Tony Blair nor George Bush would be able to gather political support for another attack.

But in Washington, Tel Aviv and Downing Street, if not the Foreign Office, Iran is regarded as a critical threat. The regime in Tehran continues to demand the destruction of the state of Israel and to support anti-Israeli forces. In what appeared to be coordinated releases of intelligence assessments, Israeli and US intelligence briefed earlier this year that, while Iran was years from a nuclear weapons capability, the technological point of no return was now imminent.

Shortly after the US elections, the vice-president, Dick Cheney, warned that Israel might attack Iran. Israel has the capability to attack Iranian targets with aircraft and long-range cruise missiles launched from submarines, while Iranian air defences are still mostly based on 25-year-old equipment purchased in the time of the Shah. A US attack might be portrayed as a more reasonable option than a renewed Israeli-Islamic confrontation. (Read the entire article.)
As unbelievable as this may seem -- the Army can't meet its recruitment quota, the Guard and Reserves are stretched inordinately thin, there are still ample forces to wage such a war, Plesch argues:
Donald Rumsfeld has been reorganising the army to increase front-line forces by a third. More importantly, naval and air force firepower has barely been used in Iraq. Just 120 B52 and stealth bombers could target 5,000 points in Iran with satellite-guided bombs in just one mission. It is for this reason that John Pike of globalsecurity.org thinks that a US attack could come with no warning at all. US action is often portrayed as impossible, not only because of the alleged lack of firepower, but because Iranian facilities are too hard to target. In a strategic logic not lost on Washington, the conclusion then is that if you cannot guarantee to destroy all the alleged weapons, then it must be necessary to remove the regime that wants them, and regime change has been the official policy in Washington for many years.
Would the Democrats oppose such a war? Hardly, Plesch asserts:
A new war may not be as politically disastrous in Washington as many believe. Scott Ritter, the whistleblowing former UN weapons inspector, points out that few in the Democratic party will stand in the way of the destruction of those who conducted the infamous Tehran embassy siege that ended Jimmy Carter's presidency. Mr Ritter is one of the US analysts, along with Seymour Hersh, who have led the allegations that Washington is going to war with Iran.For an embattled President Bush, combating the mullahs of Tehran may be a useful means of diverting attention from Iraq and reestablishing control of the Republican party prior to next year's congressional elections. From this perspective, even an escalating conflict would rally the nation behind a war president.
Ominously, U.S. "chief diplomat" Condoleezza Rice has told Congress that all options are on the table. Reports UPI:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday would not rule out military action as an option for dealing with Iran's and Syria's meddling in Iraq.

She also made no promises to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the White House would seek congressional approval before directing a military attack on either of those countries.

"I'm not going to get into what the president's options might be. But the course on which we are now launched is a diplomatic course vis-a-vis Syria," Rice said.

Under further questioning, she went even further to suggest military action -- without congressional authorization -- is a possibility. (Read the entire article.)

Rice also told the panel it's possible that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for the next 10 years. And Tehran? And Damascus?


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