Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Step Closer To A First Strike Against Iran

Iran is arming, training and funding a proxy war in Iraq with the goal of driving out the U.S. and "Lebanizing" Iraq. Recently I wrote a post, The Next Moves In An Existential Chess Match, stressing that we need to conduct at least a limited attack on Iran and forecast that such a course of action was well into the planning stages. Yesterday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Sec. of Defense raised the spectre of military operations against Iran and a Pentagon briefing on the degree of Iran's malign and deadly involvement in Iraq is planned for Monday. Iran's Qods force appears squarely in the crosshairs.


This from the Washington Post:

The nation's top military officer said yesterday that the Pentagon is planning for "potential military courses of action" as one of several options against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a conflict with Iran would be "extremely stressing" but not impossible for U.S. forces, pointing to reserve capabilities in the Navy and Air Force.

"It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," he said at a Pentagon news conference. Speaking of Iran's intentions, Mullen said: "They prefer to see a weak Iraq neighbor. . . . They have expressed long-term goals to be the regional power."

Mullen made clear that he prefers a diplomatic solution and does not expect imminent action. "I have no expectations that we're going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future," he said.

Mullen's statements and others by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently signal new rhetorical pressure on Iran by the Bush administration amid what officials say is increased Iranian provision of weapons, training and financing to Iraqi groups that are attacking and killing Americans.

In a speech Monday, Gates said Iran "is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons." He said war would be "disastrous" but added that "the military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat."

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, who was nominated this week to head all U.S. forces in the Middle East, is preparing a briefing soon on increased Iranian involvement in Iraq, Mullen said. The briefing will detail, for example, the discovery in Iraq of weapons that were very recently manufactured in Iran, he said.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago. It's plainly obvious they have not," Mullen said. He said unrest in the Iraqi city of Basra had highlighted a "level of involvement" by Iran that had not been clear previously.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago. It's plainly obvious they have not," Mullen said. He said unrest in the Iraqi city of Basra had highlighted a "level of involvement" by Iran that had not been clear previously.

But while Mullen and Gates have said that the government in Tehran must know of Iranian actions in Iraq, Mullen said he has "no smoking gun which could prove that the highest leadership is involved. . . .

Read the entire article. The smoking gun question is pure leftist dissimulation nearing the degree of dislocation from reality displayed by 9-11 truthers. The Qods Force and IRGC report directly to Iran's Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei. To suggest that Iran's proxy war in Iraq is occurring without the theocracy's knowledge and approval is simply ludicrous.

And the International Herald Tribune adds to the story:

The government of Iran continues to supply weapons and other support to extremists in Iraq, despite repeated promises to the contrary, and is increasingly complicit in the death of U.S. soldiers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday in a stark new assessment of Iranian influence.

The chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, said he was "extremely concerned" about "the increasingly lethal and malign influence" by the government of Iran and the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, a special force that aids and encourages Islamic militants around the world. The Quds Forces in Iran were created during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and report directly to the leadership of Iran's theocratic government.

Pentagon concerns about Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq is nothing new, but the content and tone of Mullen's remarks left the impression that far from abating, the worries about Iran have intensified in recent months.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago," Mullen said. "It's plainly obvious they have not. Indeed, they seem to have gone the other way."

The discovery of weapons caches in Iraq, with devices bearing stamps that indicate they were manufactured quite recently, run contrary to the Iranian promises not to interfere in Iraq, the admiral said. He conceded that he had "no smoking gun" to prove direct involvement by the very highest echelons in Tehran, but he said he found it hard to believe that all the top leaders were ignorant of recent developments.

The Pentagon is sufficiently concerned about Iran's apparently deepening involvement in Iraq that it plans a briefing in the near future by General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, to publicize the caches of weapons, some of which are believed to have been used against U.S. troops in the recent fighting in Basra, in southern Iraq. . . .

"I believe recent events, especially the Basra operation, have revealed just how much and just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability," Mullen said.

. . . Mullen acknowledged that the U.S. military was being stretched thin by the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, he said, "it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability." As for Iranian motives, Mullen said he believed the leadership in Tehran hopes for a weak Iraq, so that Iran can increase its influence in the region.

. . . Mullen said Iranian influence in Iraq goes beyond shipment of weapons. "They continue to train Iraqis in Iran to come back and fight Americans and the coalition," he said. Reiterating earlier accusations, he asserted that Iranian leaders "continue to broadly support terrorists in other parts of the region," including the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

"And in fact, we're seeing some evidence that they're supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan," Mullen said.

Read the entire article.

It would seem likely that this is the first shot in the media war to prep the homefront and Iraq for an action against Iran. I would suspect that the trigger will not be pulled on even a limited attack on Iran until the U.S. is reasonably sure that it has the Mahdi Army elements under control, in particular in Baghdad. With operations ongoing to take control of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army and with both Petraeus and Odierno scheduled to appear before Congressional hearings prior to assuming their new commands, I would expect American raids on Iran, if they are to occur, to wait until the end of June. And I would imagine that if Iran strikes back, we will see a full scale attack on Iran's nuclear program.

1 comment:

Dinah Lord said...

From your lips to God's ears, GW.

I hope you are right and that we get something started with Iran before W leaves office.