NEWS & OPINION: An attack on Iran?

United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.

Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.

However, US commanders are increasingly concerned by Iranian interference in Iraq and are determined that recent successes by joint Iraqi and US forces in the southern port city of Basra should not be reversed by the Quds Force. [complete article]

Bluff and bloodshed

If there’s a war between the United States and Iran, it may well start on the water. After all, it’s happened before. Twenty years ago American ships were under fire in the Persian Gulf, and mines laid by the mullahs’ men nearly sank a U.S. guided missile cruiser. In April 1988 the American and Iranian navies fought the biggest air-sea battle waged since World War II. By the time it was over, carrier-based U.S. attack planes had sunk the frigate Sahand and disabled the frigate Sabalan, the pride of the Iranian navy.

That’s why the comment by Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday about the brief deployment of a second U.S. aircraft carrier to the gulf was so terse and so telling. “I don’t see it as an escalation,” Gates said. “I think it could be seen, though, as a reminder.”

Gates would know. He was deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency back in 1988. He has seen firsthand the treacherous complexities, the bluff and the bloodshed, of war with Iran, whether fought in the shadows or on the high seas. And anyone who was out in the gulf at the time, as I was, can see similarities between then and now. But looking back at the last undeclared war with Iran, who is reminded of what, precisely? The challenge is to draw the right lessons. [complete article]

War with Iran? That will be for the next president

There was a moment in April 1990, when Saddam Hussein was appearing on the covers of all of the news magazines, threatening to “burn” half of Israel and brandishing new chemical and biological weapons, when we should have known that the United States would eventually go to war with Iraq. It was almost four months before Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and most people hadn’t thought much about the country, but war gamers and planners in the Pentagon began shifting their attention.

We are now at a similar moment with Iran. Short of Iran invading one of its neighbors or attacking U.S. forces in some obvious and gross way, the Iran war isn’t going to be Dick Cheney’s war. It will be waged by Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Barack Obama. [complete article]

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