Preparations for a military strike on Iran

Ten days ago, the New York Times published a story about a memo on Iran from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to National Security Adviser Gen James Jones.

David E Sanger and Thom Shanker reported on the contents of this memo, yet neither of them possesses a copy of the memo, nor have they read it, nor did they even report directly on its contents. In fact, it was not until after their story appeared that they received official confirmation of the memo’s existence.

In an interview on National Public Radio, when asked what the memo said, Sanger neglected to mention that he had never set eyes on the document. Were he to have made that clear, he could not have presumed to say anything about what the memo said — merely what he had been told about what it said. To position his source as the gatekeeper and shaper of the report would make it rather obvious that Sanger was a willing tool of a senior administration official, but no self-respecting journalist wants to be seen prostituting his services.

Sanger’s NPR interviewer, Warren Olney, also appeared willing to collude in this charade by skirting around the fact that the reporter had not set eyes on the memo, but nevertheless Olney pressed Sanger on the issue of his source’s agenda:

Olney: Can you say anything at all about the motivations of the people that revealed this memo to you?

Sanger: Um, no, the only thing I would say is that I would caution people against — I would do this in many kinds of story — the assumption that somebody just dropped off word of this memo in front of us.

A classified memo in an unmarked manila envelope could be dropped off, but how exactly would word of such a memo be “dropped off”?

Sanger wants to dispel an image of his being a passive recipient of information he is being fed, yet given that he has no means to independently interpret the contents of the memo and contrast that interpretation with the one being provided by his primary source, what he recounts is merely his source’s angle.

As I wrote when the article came out, the identity of Sanger’s source may be more significant than the existence of the memo. If it turns out that it was Dennis Ross, then the New York Times may yet again be serving a role in preparations for military action.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett write:

We do not know who leaked the Gates memo. But the “senior officials” who did so were clearly seeking to use their selective description to catalyze more robust planning for potential military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets — the very option that Gates has consistently opposed.

This explains Gates’s public claim that his memo had been “mischaracterized” by the leaker. It also explains [Defense Undersecretary Michele] Fluornoy’s later statement that an attack against Iran is “off the table in the near term.” (Though, after White House intervention, Gates’s spokesman walked back Flournoy’s comment.)

The reality is that a cadre of senior National Security Council officials — including Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Dennis Ross, senior director for the central region (including Iran) — is resisting the adoption of containment as the administration’s Iran strategy.

For some, containment is problematic because it would be interpreted in Israel and pro-Israeli circles here as giving up on preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state. Republicans could use this to label Obama as weak on national security.

Others in this camp may actually believe that Washington should be preparing for military action against Iran.

As Ross told us before he returned to government service in the Obama administration, President George W. Bush’s successor would probably need to order military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets.

Pursuing diplomatic initiatives early in Obama’s tenure, Ross said, would be necessary to justify potential military action to domestic and international constituencies.

That is precisely what the administration has done — first, by pursuing halfhearted diplomatic initiatives toward Tehran, then, when Iran did not embrace them, blaming Iran for the impasse.

Adopting containment as the administration’s posture toward Iran might undermine some White House officials’ efforts to prepare the political ground for an eventual presidential decision approving military strikes.

We have also heard former Bush administration officials close to Vice President Dick Cheney take note of the recent rise in U.S. public support for military action against Iran, as measured by some opinion polls.

Against that backdrop, these Republicans say, Obama — “a Chicago pol”— could ultimately see his way clear to ordering military strikes.

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2 thoughts on “Preparations for a military strike on Iran

  1. Norman Morley

    This sounds awfully familiar, especially coming from the New York Times. In fact, sounds like spin. I won’t go into the nuts & bolts of the previous so called scoop, but at this junction in time, these so called educated fools in our Government wont be satisfied until W.W.III erupts. The War Hawks just can’t keep their hands off of the War Machine. What a bunch of stupid individuals, from the top down, to gamble with the lives of the World for bragging rights at the local watering hole. Attention World, you have been declared “Chopped Liver” by the boy’s out back while they’re having a pissing contest. Whoopee. Brought to you, precious children, boys & girls, by the ego less jackasses in Washington & their moneyed backers.

  2. Mirza Ferdous Alam

    From the days of Bush era, Israel on a regular basis, either directly or indirectly expressed her willingness and desire to attack Iran, more than ever the key point installations of the Islamic Republic including the Nuclear establishments scattered all over the country. The attack must be with colossal force and with direct or indirect American help—- which will not only compel the Islamic Republic to refrain from its Nuclear Programme but also severely dent its increasing influence in the region. So far its aspirations are not satisfied despite best endeavours from its most important ally the US and even the possibility of a sanction to cripple Iran is still remains a remote possibility.
    Many articles have been written so far vis-à-vis the probable strategy of US-Israel attack on Iran. The effectiveness of US made precision guided missile, bunker buster bombs, smart bombs etc were discussed in details, but retaliation and counter offensive by Iran and its devastating effect in the region has not received proper consideration in electronic or printed media so far. The immediate past IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradi’s comment “the region will turn into a fire ball if Iran is attacked” deserves proper credence.
    Strategically, Israel is not supposed to relish the presence of another nuclear power in her back yard as she has been enjoying unquestionable allegiance from some of her neighbours since the day the outside world became aware of Israel’s nuclear capability. A nuclear Iran is the most effective deterrence for nuclear Israel, so Iran cannot be given the slightest opportunity to become nuclear even if it is a peaceful nuclear programme!!!
    If Israel attacks Iran, either alone or jointly with the US “the consequences will be disastrous for the region” as predicted by many. American interest worldwide in general and in the Middle East in particular will be affected enormously as the principal patron of the Jewish state.
    In the Iraq front, the US is scheduled to pack up in the coming days after a long “questionable” and “mission unaccomplished” hang about in the oil rich country. Simultaneously, it is bogged down in Afghanistan in an un winnable war, where historically, all the aggressors were overwhelmed. A third front at this point of time may prove costly in terms of money and blood for the US. How strong the domestic support will be behind this war remains a daunting question at this hour of severe economic crisis, where the day to day life of average Americans are full of struggle and hardship. The war is likely to slow down the trading through the Persian gulf; the price of oil and other commodities will shoot up to inconceivable level with a possibility for the Americans buying gasoline at US$ 20.00 a gallon.
    There is no common border between Israel and Iran, tactically in aerial attack, Israeli or American aircrafts must fly long distance to reach Iran and fly through the no man’s land between the borders of Turkey, Syria and Iran. Direct missile or aerial attack through the airspace of Saudi Arabia is unthinkable at the moment and will be disastrous for the Saudi government.

    If attacked, Iran is supposed to retaliate with brute force—– they will not hesitate to attack Israel and American Military and Civilian targets within their range. American Naval ships in the gulf, their Military establishments in Bahrain and elsewhere in the middle east can be targets for Iranian missiles. The general people of Iran will be more unified and will rally with full support behind the existing government. The Iranian Government will have no incentive to delay their Nuclear enrichment programme and proceed quickly to enrich higher weapon grade uranium. The general peace loving people of other countries in the region and the Muslims all over the world will become extremely annoyed with the US and their allies. American interests all over the region are likely to be endangered. The American allies, the so called moderate Arab countries, will face the wrath of their citizens and the street protests will become irrepressible. Many people may die in the Street Protests if the rulers want to control them with iron fist, which is not unusual in these countries ruled by long serving leaders. One may remember the protests in Arab Streets during Israel’s Gaza invasion of 2008-2009 where the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were troubled of being destabilized by the street protesters and had to beg the US for an urgent cease fire to calm down their angry citizens.
    If attacked, Iran can engage Hezbollah and Hamas to launch counter attack on Israel in two fronts and American interests in the region can be targets of these two outfits as well. It is reported that Syria supplied Hezbollah with medium ranged scud missiles which can hit each and every corner of the State of Israel. After the news broke out, the US state department summoned the Syrian Ambassador hurriedly to lodge their protest, how worrisome is the news for most important Israeli ally and the lone superpower!!
    The statement “Iran’s medium-range rockets would cause damage and casualties in Israel, but they aren’t very accurate, and Israel’s sophisticated missile-defence system would likely knock many out mid-flight” is itself inaccurate. Iran do not need very accurate missiles to hit Israel. It is Important whether it can land on Israeli cities like Haifa, Tel Aviv etc. Israeli or the US Missile defence system which may be deployed in the aid of Israel in the event of an war, is not expected to eliminate 100% incoming Iranian Missile.
    Iran may sustain the Israeli attack due to Iranian psyche of martyrdom and the vast size of the country. Israel cannot expect to ruin the whole country and destroy everything there with even most powerful armaments they possess even by using Nuclear warheads.
    Can Israel swallow and survive the Iranian Missiles, which may slip through the air defence cordon of Israel or the US, land on Tel Aviv or Haifa causing hundreds of deaths!!! Iran and her ally Hezbollah has the capability of attacking any part Israel with the missiles they have at their disposal. When Israel is ready to exchange thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange of one IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit held by Hamas, such question is relevant!! With possible deaths and destruction due to Iranian missiles, dual passport holders Israeli’s will leave en masse to their country of origin with a possibility of Israel becoming a pariah state!!

    Historically Jewish people are not long term thinkers—– warmongering rhetoric against the Islamic Republic is the evidence of such myopic vision of Jewish people.

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