Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, has taken charge of the forces in the American government opposed to a US military attack on Iran, writes Tim Shipman.
Pentagon and State Department officials say Mr Gates has set himself up as chief rival to Dick Cheney in a bid to thwart the vice?president’s desire to bomb the Islamic state.
Those familiar with internal battles in the Bush administration say Mr Gates has eclipsed Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, as the chief opponent of air strikes and is the main reason President George W.Bush has yet to resort to military action.
Pentagon sources say Mr Gates is waging a subtle campaign to undermine the Cheney camp by encouraging the army’s senior officers to speak frankly about the overstretch of forces, and the difficulty of fighting another war. [complete article]
British defence officials have held talks with their Pentagon counterparts about how they could help out if America chose to bomb Iran.
Washington sources say that America has shelved plans for an all-out assault, drawn up to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities and take out the Islamist regime.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that President Bush’s White House national security council is discussing instead a plan to launch pinpoint attacks on bases operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force, blamed for training Iraqi militants.
Pentagon officials have revealed that President Bush won an understanding with Gordon Brown in July that Britain would support air strikes if they could be justified as a counter-terrorist operation. [complete article]