Last April, I discussed the basic problems of going to war with Iran: (1.) We can’t even pacify Iraq, and they want to start another war? (2.) The rest of the world is not going to believe a word we say about WMDs. (3.) Iran’s a bigger country than Iraq, with a bigger military, and they like us even less than the Iraqis do. (4.) All the foregoing problems, plus any others you can think of, are secondary to the fact that no sane commander-in-chief would pick an unnecessary fight with a country that’s got the kind of geography Iran does.
At the time, I assumed that Bush, Cheney & Co. had been thinking of using smallish tactical nukes. For one thing, they kept playing up the “Iran + nuclear” angle, which I took to mean they were manufacturing a justification for preemptive retaliation. For another, what else were they going to use? The National Guard can only stretch so far.
Since B&C seemed to be putting the idea behind them, I also assumed it was a dead issue. That was optimistic. They’ve kept at it. Why? I have no more idea now than I had before. The idea makes no sense. Even the Rand Corporation has said that “declaring war on terror” is not the way to go.
Still, I was honestly shocked when I read in Think Progress that Seymour Hersh, who recently reported that we’re already conducting covert operations against Iran, has now said that Bush administration officials held a meeting recently in Cheney’s office to discuss ways to provoke a war with Iran. One idea that was considered at the meeting was to build some fake Iranian PT boats, have Navy SEALs dress up as Iranians, send them out into the Gulf of Hormuz, and stage a shoot-out with them. This was ultimately rejected—not because it was grossly dishonest, but because it might result in Americans killing Americans. Apparently, even Dick Cheney knows that’s bad press.
Hersh’s editor at The New Yorker didn’t want to publish the story because the meeting in Cheney’s office didn’t accept the idea. This astounds me. It isn’t worth reporting that they even considered such an idea? …Go read the story. It’s short. They’ve got a transcript of Seymour Hersh talking about the meeting, and it’s short too. So go look.
Kevin Drum commented on the story in the Washington Monthly, and added:
If this story sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In one of David Manning’s famous memos describing a prewar meeting between George Bush and Tony Blair, he says that Bush admitted that WMD was unlikely to be found in Iraq and then mused on some possible options for justifying a war anyway:One more piece of evidence that Bush was lying all along. I don’t know why his hapless lackwit supporters keep defending him.“The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,” the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”In the end, of course, we didn’t do this. We just didn’t bother with any pretext at all.
I do know why Iran would want a nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein got rid of his WMDs, and we invaded his country, trashed the place, killed quantities of its civilians, and executed him. North Korea still has its whatever-it-has, and we’re being very polite to its Beloved Leader. I’ll bet a lot of other countries have reached the same conclusions.
What I’d really like to know is why the civilized world hasn’t stopped us. If this misbehavior of ours goes on much longer, they’re going to have to stop us for their own sake, not just out of abstract justice. Why not get started now? And while they’re at it, they can send in some election monitors.