Ken Silverstein has a three part series on Iran (here, here, and here) at Harper’s. His interviews with various analysts dissect the situation, starting with the Busheviks’ bellicose blustering:
The Bush Administration's combative rhetoric—its accusations about Iran's nuclear program, involvement in Iraq, and support for Hezbollah and Hamas—looks like a prelude to military action. It's eerily reminiscent of the fall 2002/winter 2003 rhetoric on Iraq, when the administration was talking about WMDs and Saddam Hussein's meddling in the region. [Anonymous former CIA official #2]
Silverstein’s other sources are paint a pessimistic portrait of our future interaction with Iran, calling it everything from “risky in the extreme,” “delusional,” and stating flatly that “If the United States attacks Iran, the consequences would be disastrous.” Seymour Hersh’s new article in The New Yorker, “The Redirection,” explains that despite Robert Gates’ assurance that “we are not planning for a war with Iran,” a disturbing escalation is nonetheless underway:
According to current and former American intelligence and military officials, secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.
The Bush Administration has publicly pledged the Siniora government [of Lebanon] a billion dollars in aid since last summer. A donors’ conference in Paris, in January, which the U.S. helped organize, yielded pledges of almost eight billion more, including a promise of more than a billion from the Saudis. The American pledge includes more than two hundred million dollars in military aid, and forty million dollars for internal security.
Thus, we are inadvertently helping to finance the Iraqi insurgency. Hersh, to his credit, draws the appropriate historical parallel:
The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history. Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.
Hersh summarized his findings in an interview with CNN (h/t: ThinkProgress):
We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11, and we should be arresting these people rather than looking the other way…
The SundayTimes reported over the weekend that “up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack:”
“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
The article goes on to note that “A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented.” Craig Unger’s latest piece at Vanity Fair, “From the Wonderful Folks Who Brought You Iraq,” is a disturbing look into the administration’s imperviousness to reality in the Middle East (h/t: Digby at Hullabaloo). Unger is scarcely more pessimistic than Silverstein’s interviewees in observing that “waging war against Iran could be the most catastrophic choice of all:”
It is widely believed that Iran would respond to an attack by blockading the Strait of Hormuz, a 20-mile-wide narrows in the eastern part of the Persian Gulf through which about 40 percent of the world's oil exports are transported. Oil analysts say a blockade could propel the price of oil to $125 a barrel, sending the world economy into a tailspin. There could be vast international oil wars. Iran could act on its fierce rhetoric against Israel.
The Bush White House has already built the fire. Whether it will light the match remains to be seen.
Iraq turned out so wonderfully that there’s no reason why Iran shouldn’t be another cakewalk.