The Iranian Threat - Puhleeeeeeeze ...
This bothers me no end, and this particular "bother" has been triggered by this morning's article in the NY Times, Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down. The leading paragraph to the article states:
Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.
Shades of deja vu. Here we have the administration and its lackeys warning the intelligence community, which, by the way, it has stacked with ITS own people, that they're not providing enough evidence to highlight the threat of Iran. I can only conjecture from this that they're looking for support to do something in Iran, such as bomb its nuclear facilities (wherever the heck they may be located as at this point no one really knows, something those tricky/threatening Iranians have been very clever about) - does this sound like something we've seen before? Maybe like what this very same administration was doing to justify the mess we now find ourselves entangled in in Iraq?
I'm not a big conspiracy freak, but this has all the markings of the administration pandering to Israel and its followers here in the U.S. Israel has been embarrassed by its venture into Lebanon, and made to feel vulnerable. The image conveyed of late from the talk pundits and the media in general is that some odd few thousand Hezbollah guerrillas have beaten Israel, the regional superpower. This is ridiculous - Hezbollah suffered far more than Israel did, and the Lebanese themselves have suffered far worse than anyone. This wasn't a classic war, which not a single country in the region could hope to win with Israel, but a guerrilla action that has lines for victory and defeat that are far more ambiguous than when powers of equal standing, or assumed equal standing when one considers the Arab and Iranian militaries in the region, go to war. In an army to army battle no one in the region can expect to defeat Israel, but when it comes to a guerrilla action, such as Israel in Lebanon and the U.S. in Iraq (or Vietnam for that matter), a classic military such as Israel's or that of the United States is at a disadvantage, especially when the guerrillas in question embrace the opportunity to die (the Vietnamese never were so willing to get themselves killed.) Israel's problem was making claims regarding victory it should have known were nearly impossible to achieve, going into this with an army ill-prepared for the mission (this is very disturbing if the reports coming out of late regarding this are true, with troops ill-trained, ill-equipped, and otherwise simply not up to the task), and an over reliance on air power to get the job done, something that technologically advanced countries like Israel and the U.S. should know better than to do, but it seems we have to re-learn this lesson time and time again.
So, Israel's embarrassed, possibly feeling threatened, and the administration feels this is an opportunity to rally around "getting" Iran, which ostensibly is behind Hezbollah's activities in Lebanon, to show support for Israel. Of course there's no evidence to support that Iran is pulling Hezbollah's strings (see cited Times article above) - yes, Iran supplies Hezbollah and that's enough of a concern, but that's not the same as being able to tell Hezbollah what to do which is a different matter altogether. But if we can make the case that Iran's a threat to the U.S. (mind you, it's the U.S. that's threatened per the administration, not Israel) we can then take care of that threat, just like we did in Iraq, right? Interestingly enough, and something I wrote about back in July regarding an article by Seymour Hersh (see U.S. Military: One Up, One Down), the only U.S. military service that seems to be biting at the bit to go into Iran is the U.S. Air Force - what a surprise. All of the ground services see the problem with Iran and know that there's no way to go in there while in Iraq, and even minus complications from Iraq it'd be an extraordinarily difficult mission, and the Navy's not interested in bottling up its aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf to make fat targets of them for the high speed, bomb laden Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats. But if we did go in we'll surely be supporting the Israelis, right, just like we were supporting democracy when we invaded Iraq?
Iran is not a threat to the U.S., never has been, likely never will be. It surely will often be a pain to U.S. policy makers who often won't agree with the leaders of that country, but it'll never be a direct threat. For as much bellicosity rained on Israel by Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, there's little direct threat to Israel from Iran either. Indirectly Iran is a troublemaker for Israel as Iran does support Hezbollah and Hamas, two organizations whose prime reason for existence is to be a thorn in the side of Israel. But even with a nuclear weapon Iran isn't a threat - Israel has many nuclear weapons, and the means by which to deliver them now, Iran doesn't. Israel won't hesitate to wipe Iran off the face of the Middle East were it to believe that it was responsible for a nuclear attack on Israel and it's unlikely that anyone in a position of influence in Tehran isn't very well aware of this.
The administration shouldn't be goading the intelligence community to produce intelligence data that supports its ideological contentions/beliefs - you'd think they'd have learned that after the Iraq debacle, but apparently not. Moreover, there's no possible excuse anyone can comeup with that justifies military action in Iran as the fact remains that if the Iranians want nuclear weapons they'll eventually get them and trying to stop them, especially with military force, will simply give them reasons for getting them that much more quickly and threatening the world with using them. We must be sure to prevent a repeat of what we've already managed to thoroughly foul up in Iraq, though with Iran the costs would be vastly higher and the end results would be even less desirable than what we're now getting in Iraq. This administration has managed to befoul one part of the Middle East already, we must not stand by and watch as it rationalizes going about trying to do it again.