Monday, October 01, 2007
New Yorker, October 8, 2007 issue:
Telegraph UK, Oct 01, 2007:
Shifting Targets - The Administration’s plan for Iran
by Seymour M. Hersh
Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.
The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.
I was repeatedly cautioned, in interviews, that the President has yet to issue the “execute order” that would be required for a military operation inside Iran, and such an order may never be issued. But there has been a significant increase in the tempo of attack planning. In mid-August, senior officials told reporters that the Administration intended to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. And two former senior officials of the C.I.A. told me that, by late summer, the agency had increased the size and the authority of the Iranian Operations Group. (A spokesman for the agency said, “The C.I.A. does not, as a rule, publicly discuss the relative size of its operational components.”)
“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”
That theme was echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national-security adviser, who said that he had heard discussions of the White House’s more limited bombing plans for Iran. Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”
Telegraph UK, Oct 01, 2007:
Neocons seek to justify action against Teheran
By Tim Shipman
American diplomats have been ordered to compile a dossier detailing Iran's violations of international law that some fear could be used to justify military strikes against the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.
US trains Gulf air forces for war with Iran
Members of the US secretariat in the United Nations were asked earlier this month to begin "searching for things that Iran has done wrong", The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
Opponents of military action were further alarmed last week when it emerged that Norman Podhoretz, one of the godfathers of neo-conservatism, used a 45-minute meeting with Mr Bush at the White House to lobby for the bombing of Iran's nuclear plants.
Mr Podhoretz disclosed that, when he said Mr Bush was just "giving futility its chance" by pursuing diplomacy, the president and his former aide Karl Rove had burst out laughing. "It struck me," Mr Podhoretz added, "that if they really believed that there was a chance for these negotiations and sanctions to work, they would not have laughed. They would have got their backs up and said, 'No, no, it's not futile, there's a very good chance'." He said he believed "Bush is going to hit" Iran before his presidency ends.
Bruce Reidel, a former CIA Middle East desk officer, said the neo-conservatives realised their influence would wane rapidly when Mr Bush left office in just over 15 months. "Whatever crazy idea they have to try to transform the Middle East, they have to push now. The real hardline neo-conservatives are getting desperate that the door of history is about to close on them with an epitaph of total failure."