Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Iran Threat-Tidal Wave of Rhetoric Coming 

A must read Early Warning:
Iran tested a new torpedo!

Iran would respond to an attack with terrorist strikes in the United States!

Nuclear diplomacy in Iran is beginning to look a lot like the United Nation's inspection work in Iraq before the 2003 war. The parties are committed to a peaceful outcome but the accumulation of bad blood torpedoes any hope for a peaceful outcome.

I know that Iran's president continues to call for the state of Israel to be "wiped off the map." I know that the country is clandestinely developing nuclear weapons, that it has been a state sponsor of terrorism for years.

The more interesting question though is whether the Iranian "threat" has reached a tipping point, where a potential threat to the West and oil is declared an imminent threat. This again mirrors Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003, a country on a sure path to confrontation with the United States regardless of whether it was really a threat to regional and international security, regardless of whether a peaceful outcome was even possible.

On Sunday, The Washington Post ran a front page story by Dana Priest declaring that as tensions increase between the United States and Iran, "U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide."

Terrorism experts, Priest reported, consider the country's Ministry of Intelligence and Security operatives, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah "to be better organized, trained and equipped than the al-Qaeda network."

On Monday, the Pentagon's Press Service happily picks up wire service copy about an Iranian military exercise to trumpet Iran's new torpedo and other military hardware.

Isn't it just a little transparent that a drumbeat of stories about the Iranian "threat" has begun?

In the world of threat manufacture, Iran has all the ingredients: a WMD-seeking, terrorist-sponsoring, military threat of a regime. With its torpedoes and naval mines and small boats and coastal artillery, Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz where a fifth of the world's oil transits daily. Iran could shoot its missiles at U.S. bases and oil refineries in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. Iran's agents would attack at home. Iran is thought to already possess chemical and biological weapons. Iranian nuclear weapons, or so the story goes, lurk in the future.

No wonder to many in the administration, in the military, and in the Washington world of brilliant minds, armed confrontation with Iran is the necessary next step in the war against terrorism.

But, the tidal wave didn't start in Israel...
One of the issues that came up in many of the national security related discussions I had was that Israel has maintained and cultivated a very strong human intelligence network inside Iran. The two nations were close strategic allies 25 years ago — and continue, in many behind-the-scenes ways, to communicate and possibly even to coordinate certain actions. It doesn't mean that Israel is ready to appease Iran's regional ambitions, but it does mean that I have witnessed far more worries about Iranian President Ahmadinejad's anti-Holocaust and anti-Israel rhetoric in the U.S. than I did in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

....Nearly everyone I spoke to in Israel who ranged in political sympathies from the Likud right to Maretz left thought that the tone of the AIPAC conference had been too shrill and that Israel thought it wrong-headed and too impulsive to be engaged in saber-rattling with Iran at this stage.


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