April 10, 2006 - Is the Bush Administration planning military action against Iran? Senior Pentagon officials quietly claim that planning is going on and that it includes the use of nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Rice has already indicated that the problem with Iran is not just its nuclear ambitions; it is the regime itself. The President has pointedly and publicly refused to rule out military force or the nuclear option. The Vice President has made it a point to announce that all options remain on the table. With the midterm elections in the offing and Republican control of Congress in doubt are we to engage Iran? If we are then what are the stakes?
Let’s start with oil. Iran is second only to Saudi Arabia as a source of the world’s energy with fully 25 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. The Bush Administration has been threatening Iran with economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations. On Saturday Ambassador John Bolton warned that should the United Nations refuse to act then the United States was prepared to impose sanctions on its own. Iran’s answer has been defiance. They know in Teheran that the world’s largest consumer of oil can wage an effective trade war against the nation that controls 25 percent of the world oil supply. John Bolton’s economic saber rattling has been singularly ineffective.
President Bush keeps repeating that he is looking for a diplomatic solution but that he won’t rule out the use of force to bring Iran to heel. Those comments, along with the rattling sabers from the Secretary of State and Vice President form background of the Pentagon leak to Seymour Hersh. They eerily echo similar statements in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. In that case too the Pentagon was tasked to plan the war that the President told us was not yet decided on.
There is a difference though. American’s won’t buy a second time that conquered oil fields will pay the costs of a war in the Middle East. They have seen too many lives and dollars squandered in the unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have watched the price of gasoline and heating oil reflect the unreality of those promises and are resigned as it edges up toward $3.00 a gallon once more. But they aren’t ready for the $10.00 a gallon that will result from a war with Iran whether that war is fought with economic sanctions or nuke tipped missiles.
If we take what Seymour Hersh writes at face value, and the recently announced plan to test the bunker buster near Las Vegas indicates that we should, it appears that this time that the reality community has infected the highest military officers in the Pentagon. It may not be a full blown rebellion and the top brass may or may not want to retire to avoid the inevitable blame that rolls down from the political heights to crush the troops sent dutifully up the hill. But this time the warnings against rash action are clear and concise; American can not win in a military confrontation with Iran. Karl Rove and the President are going to have to look elsewhere for their November Miracle.
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