The American Conservative & Jim Lobe / Inter Press Service & Justin Raimondo / AntiWar.com – 2007-08-01 22:37:53
Deep Background: Cheney Targeting Iran
The American Conservative
(August 1, 2005 Issue) — In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States.
The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites.
Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States.
Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.
Copyright © 2005
Bush, Cheney Team Up to Soften Americans for War on Iran
Jim Lobe / Anti War.com & Inter Press Service
(January 22, 2005) — Two very different messages about the future of U.S. foreign policy were broadcast to the world on Inaugural Day Thursday, and listeners everywhere could be forgiven for feeling confused about their import.
On the one hand, George W. Bush’s lofty rhetoric about his administration’s commitment to bring democracy, liberty and freedom to every country where tyrants rule naturally grabbed the most attention; after all, he is the president.
Even as the speech was much criticized by normally friendly critics – probably more than the White House had anticipated – as being hopelessly ambitious and unrealistic, the idealism that it expressed was widely praised and unquestioned.
On the other hand, Vice Pres. Dick Cheney’s dark words of warning against Iran on MSNBC’s “Imus in the Morning” television show conveyed something altogether different, both in tone and substance, even if they were relegated to the inside pages.
“You look around the world at potential trouble spots, (and) Iran is right at the top of the list,” the vice president intoned, noting that Washington’s chief concern with Tehran had less to do with democracy or even terrorism but rather with its “fairly robust new nuclear program.”
And while Cheney stressed that Washington still hoped Europe’s efforts to persuade Tehran to abandon any ambitions to obtain a nuclear weapon would succeed, he grimly observed that Israel might well decide to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, presumably before the Bush administration, “and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.”
“We don’t want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it,” he concluded as cheerfully as he could – at least until he was caught up short by the cowboy-hatted Imus, who reminded him that the U.S. already has a war there.
To former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Cheney’s remarks sounded “like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis” to carry out an attack.
He noted that, coinciding with Bush’s idealistic address, they underlined that the administration was “really very unclear regarding its genuine strategic doctrine.”
For neoconservatives, who have long used the velvet glove of pro-democracy rhetoric to hide the steel fist of what has consistently been a U.S.- and Israel-centered Machtpolitik, Cheney’s warning came as the perfect topper to Bush’s inaugural speech, much of which was borrowed from right-wing Israeli leader Natan Sharansky’s new book, The Case for Democracy.
After biting their tongue about making Iran the next target of U.S. military power after Iraq through most of 2004 so as not to jeopardize Bush’s re-election, they have been noisily pushing Tehran as the chief candidate for Public Enemy Number One in Bush’s second term.
Just the day before the inaugural, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who doubles as chairman of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), had told an audience at the neoconservative Hudson Institute that the administration considered Iran to be a much bigger threat than North Korea.
“I don’t think George W. Bush thinks he got re-elected to preside over the theocratic regime getting nuclear weapons,” he confidently asserted, although he also admitted that there were “big practical questions” as to how to stop it.
Both Cheney’s and Kristol’s remarks followed the publication earlier in the week of a much-noted article in the New Yorker magazine by prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, which maintained that Washington has been infiltrating Special Operations Forces (SOFs) into Iran from Iraq and Pakistan since last summer precisely to seek out Tehran’s secret nuclear facilities and other weapons targets in preparation for possible combined air and ground strikes.
The article, which the Pentagon said was “riddled with errors” that it declined to further identify, also reported that Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whose Middle East views accord closely with Israel’s extreme right and whose office is widely blamed for corrupting the intelligence process leading up to the Iraq war, has been working with Israeli planners and consultants on a target list.
It asserted that he and other hard-liners in the Pentagon, Cheney’s office and the White House fervently believe that a major military blow against Tehran will topple the regime.
“The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West,” one unnamed Pentagon consultant told Hersh, “the Iranian regime will collapse” like the regimes in Romania, East Germany and the Soviet Union because of popular hatred for the ruling theocracy.
Hersh’s article was greeted with unrestrained joy by neoconservative publications, such as the New York Sun, the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, as evidence that the administration, hopelessly split over Iran policy during the Bush’s first term largely because of the State Department’s and the CIA’s desire to gain Tehran’s cooperation on Afghanistan and Iraq, has finally opted for confrontation.
For regional specialists, such as Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University, however, both the Hersh article and Cheney’s grim mutterings are “deja vu all over again.”
“In Iraq, we listened to the exiles who said we’d be greeted with flowers and candies so it would be ‘cakewalk,’ but it turned out not to be quite that way,” said Sick, who served on the National Security Council under former President Jimmy Carter and later wrote a book, All Fall Down, about U.S. policy in Iran.
“I can’t believe there are people who want to repeat that process now,” he added.
Sick and other regional specialists insist that the assumptions apparently being made by administration hawks about the nature of the government, its goals in Iraq, and how a U.S. or Israeli military strike would affect internal Iranian politics are all deeply flawed.
“The ramifications of a military strike are going to be all negative,” according to Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution, who supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He said it would likely rally the population behind the regime and provoke serious retaliation both in Iraq and beyond.
Even the “big practical questions” acknowledged by Kristol represent formidable hurdles to ensuring the destruction of Iran’s ability to build a bomb, according to Pollack. Anticipating Cheney, he asserted at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) forum last week that “we would all like the Israelis to take care of this problem, (but) they can’t.”
Central and eastern Iran, where most of the facilities are believed to be situated, is beyond the range of their fighter jets. So in order to reach their targets, the bombers would have to fly over U.S.-occupied Iraq, thus making Washington complicit.
Worse, “(a)ny bombing raid that tries to take out so many sites will be of no value unless it’s followed up on the ground,” Sick told IPS. “My guess is that neither Cheney nor anyone around him really looks forward to putting boots on the ground in Iran.”
Moreover, while there is “quite a lot of real respect for the United States and for Bush in Iran today, if there were an American attack, all of that would just vanish overnight,” he said, pressing a more hopeful view of Cheney’s and the administration’s intentions.
“I think this is actually a campaign to intimidate Iran,” he said. “It’s holding out a palpable threat that if you don’t cooperate this is what is going to happen to you.”
Cheney’s Plan: Nuke Iran
Stand athwart the Apocalypse and Shout: “No!”
Justin Raimondo / AntiWar.com
(July 25, 2005) — A recent poll shows six-in-ten Americans think a new world war is coming: the same poll says about 50 percent approve of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Somewhat inexplicably, about two-thirds say nuking those two cities was “unavoidable.” One can only wonder, then, what their reaction will be to this ominous news, revealed in a recent issue of The American Conservative by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi:
“The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.
Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States.
Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.”
Two points leap out at the reader – or, at least, this reader – quite apart from the moral implications of dropping nukes on Iran. The first is the completely skewed logic: if Iran has nothing to do with 9/11-II, then why target Tehran? As in Iraq, it’s all a pretext: only this time, the plan is to use nuclear weapons. We’ll wipe out the entire population of Iran’s capital city because, as Paul Wolfowitz said in another context, “it’s doable.”
The other weird aspect of this “nuke Iran” story is the triggering mechanism: a terrorist attack in the U.S. on the scale of 9/11. While it is certain that our government has developed a number of scenarios for post-attack action, one has to wonder: why develop this plan at this particular moment? What aren’t they telling us?
I shudder to think about it.
The more I look at it, and the more I think of it, the more I sense a monumental evil casting its shadow over the world, and I have to tell you, it makes me wonder how much more time I want to spend on this earth. In my more pessimistic moments, I doubt whether we can avoid the horrific fate that seems to await us just around the next corner, the next moment, looming over the globe like a gigantic devil stretching its wings and blotting out the sun.
It seems to me that the question of whether life is really worth living anymore is inextricably bound up with the question of whether or not these madmen can be stopped. If not, then the only alternative is to live it up while we can and laugh defiantly in the face of the apocalypse. Why write columns, why comment at all, if we can’t have any effect on the outcome? On the other hand, some ask:
“Surely the New York Times and the Washington Post can find a lede here: ‘US has plan to nuke Tehran if another 9/11.’ Can we get at least a bloody story out of this?”
Might I suggest another lede?: “Armageddon approaches.” Or perhaps, for the literary-mind secularists among us: “After many a summer dies mankind.”
Where oh where is the “mainstream” media on this? That’s a laughable question, because the answer is heartbreakingly obvious: they are nowhere to be found, and for a very good reason. As the Valerie Plame case is making all too clear, the MSM has been a weapon in the hands of the War Party at every step on the road to World War IV. It’s an American tradition. As William Randolph Hearst famously put it to an employee in the run-up to the Spanish-American conflict of 1898: “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.”
Any objective examination of the Anglo-American media’s role as a megaphone for this administration’s “talking points” would have to conclude that the Hearst school of journalism has been dominant since well before the invasion of Iraq. Aside from the post-9/11 hysteria that effectively swept away all pretenses of a critical stance, the MSM was well acclimated to simply reiterating the U.S. government line on matters of war and peace all through the Clinton era, when friendly media coverage of the Balkans and numerous other Clintonian interventions habituated the press corps to a certain mindset.
By the time the Bush administration set out on a campaign of deception designed to lie us into invading and occupying Iraq, the MSM was largely reconciled to playing the role of the government’s amen corner.
With the U.S. and British media in the pocket of the Powers That Be, what hope is there that the American people – who don’t believe anything if they don’t see it on television – will awaken to the danger in time? Again, in my more pessimistic moments, there doesn’t seem to be any such hope: television news seems firmly in the camp of the War Party, and the “mainstream” print media also doesn’t seem a likely venue for this kind of reporting.
On my more optimistic days, however, I almost believe it’s possible to outflank the War Party on the media front – because the Internet is a mighty weapon that will defeat them in the end. A recent Pew study shows that this is not just a technophilic fantasy:
“The Internet continues to grow as a source of news for Americans. One-in-four (24%) list the internet as a main source of news. Roughly the same number (23%) say they go online for news every day, up from 15% in 2000; the percentage checking the Web for news at least once a week has grown from 33% to 44% over the same time period.
“While online news consumption is highest among young people (those under age 30), it is not an activity that is limited to the very young. Three-in-ten Americans ages 30-49 cite the Internet as a main source of news.
“The importance of the Web for people in their working years is even more apparent when the frequency of use is taken into account. One-third of people in their 30s say they get news online every day, as do 27% of people in their 40s. Nearly a quarter of people in their 50s get news online daily, about the same rate as among people ages 18-29.”
What this means is that we can put the news the MSM won’t cover – e.g., the story about Cheney’s Dr. Strangelove plan to strike Iran – on the front page of Antiwar.com and potentially reach one-in-four Americans. Last month we had over 2 million readers; this month is headed toward the same range – and that’s in summertime, a traditionally slow time for us. Yet we’re setting new records.
This, it seems to me, is the only reason for hope: a strategy of doing an end run around the mass media. We must mount a last desperate attempt to stand athwart the apocalypse shouting “No!” The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.
Never for a minute did any of us who founded Antiwar.com imagine we would one day be front and center in a twilight struggle to protect the country and the world from such a monumental evil, and yet here we are, a band of hobbits up against all the dark powers of Mordor.
Without getting any more melodramatic than is absolutely unavoidable, I can only note that we’ve come a long way on our quest to rid the world of this particular Ring of Power, and the battle seems to be reaching some sort of dramatic climax. As to whether or not the Cheney-neocon-War Party axis of evil will be defeated in the end, no one can confidently predict at the moment. Yet one thing does seem clear: as long as Antiwar.com is around, we have at least a fighting chance.
I want to thank each and every one of our readers who have supported us down through the years, even as I remind them that their future support is even more vitally important than ever before. Together we can beat the War Party – but not without constant vigilance. We stand on the watchtower just as long as you, our readers and supporters, keep us there. I hope and trust we will continue until the end – whatever that end may turn out to be.