The BBC is reporting confirmation of what many of us suspected: even as Bush insists he has no plans to attack Iran, there are plans to attack Iran.
US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country’s military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.
It is understood that any such attack – if ordered – would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.
[S]enior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their target sets inside Iran.
That list includes Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, the sources say.
In other words, the Bushies think they can knock out Iran’s military capability with air strikes and naval bombardments rather than needing troops on the ground, just as many analysts predicted based on the movement of two carrier groups into the Gulf. This also means that stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is just an excuse to start another war. If all they wanted to do was eliminate Iran’s potential nuclear capacity, they’d do what Bill Clinton did in similar circumstances and limit the bombing to taking out those facilitites. But they aren’t.
We also seem to have confirmation of the charges that the Bush Administration is trying to whip up some hysteria to justify a war it has already decided to start. According to the report, the US has identified two
excuses “triggers” that would get the war ball rolling.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon – which it denies.
The Natanz plant is buried under concrete, metal and earth
Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran. (emphasis added)
The so-called “confirmation” could be easily cooked – as it was before the invasion of Iraq – but it is the “high-casualty attack on US forces” trigger that holds the real key. (You can forget that nonsense about how it has to be “traced directly back to Tehran” – that’s easily faked, too. Witness the recent “press conference” to trumpet “proof” that the Iranian govt was behind the appearance of a new batch of weapons in Iraq that turned out to be no such thing but got war supporters all worked up and captured headlines for days.)
Bush knows he’s not going to get another resolution to approve yet another war from the Democratic Congress so he’s been running around – as has Cheney – wailing about how the troops are in danger from Iran and he has a duty as C-in-C to protect the troops. Framing the issue that way has both a propaganda purpose and a legal one.
- As propaganda, it puts the Dems in a hopeless political position: they can’t oppose his bombing campaign without appearing to be abandoning the troops to a deadly enemy. Given their spineless wobbling over over the recent anti-surge resolution, the perception that they’re leaving our military to rot on the battlefield without backup or support would just about finish them, eradicating their current popular approval.
- Legally, Bush can make the argument – and it will stick – that he doesn’t need Congressional approval for either a bombing campaign (cf. Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton before him) or any move he makes as C-in-C that has the excuse of protecting troops. During the resolution debate, every Pub said the same thing, like they were reading off a White House teleprompter: Any opposition to Bush’s plan was the same as abandoning our troops in the field. I suspected when it was going on that that argument had less to do with staking out a political position than it did with preparing the ground to justify a bombing campaign against Iran.
As a politico-legal strategy, this approach has the virtue of simplicity. Legally, he doesn’t need the approval of the Congress to bomb and precedent proves it. All he needs is an excuse the American people will accept, which – after all the lying he did before Iraq – makes “confirmed nuclear threat” problematic. His and his admin’s credibility in both the US and the rest of the world is zero at this point. Nobody believes anything he says, and another bogus WMD argument isn’t going to fly.
But who’s going to be able to argue convincingly against protecting the troops? No one. As insurgent opposition to US troops becomes more co-ordinated – and it is – the likelihood of a combined assault against US-Iraqi forces becomes more plausible, perhaps even inevitable. When it happens, the second trigger will be pulled and the planes will fly.
One way or another, we are going to have a bombing campaign against Iran which will, in short order, escalate into a war. Short of impeaching the whole gang, there doesn’t seem to be any feasible way to stop it.