Tuesday, April 11, 2006
It's been happening all week. In every conference, lunch, email exchange, phone conservation I've been asked about Sy Hersh's article in the New Yorker about President Bush's plan to attack Iran, including by using tactical nuclear weapons, to prevent it from developing a nuclear military capability. I've published several long analyses (here and here)and short commentaries (here,here,here,and here) on U.S.-Iran calling on the administration to do a Bush-going-to-Iran a la Nixon-going-to-China, that is secret talks leading to a bilateral diplomatic bargain on several issues, including the nuclear one. I've also stressed that only a direct U.S.-Iran accord could make is possible to stabilize Iraq. And that in case, Israel's nuclear military power would serve as the main deterrence to potential Iranian capability. I've also predicted that a combination of domestic political pressures in both countries as well as strategic considerations are bound to lead a major diplomatic and military confrontation -- short of a full-blown war -- between the two countries this year. To put it simply, Bush needs to counter-balance Iran's rising power (achieved among other things thanks to the destruction of Iran's enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan; and thanks W. for that!) that threatens U.S. hegemony in the Middle East (which explains why the Democrats are also behind Bush on this) while the Iranians believe that challenging Washington has become more cost-effective. Based on my conversations with my own "sources" (hey, I do have those) on Capitol Hill and elsewhere it seems to me that the common view is that Bush is going to "do something" about Iran but no one would say that they read a document or talked with someone really on the top that knows if and what is going to happen. In a way, Hersh's article which doesn't really include a lot of new info, except for the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons (which I doubt very much) has ignited so much excitement in Washington and the media because it seems to confirm the worst fears among politicians and pundits. So... my view is that both sides want to avoid a war BUT are edging towards a dangerous Cuba-missile-crisis-type confrontation that would probably happen sometime before the November elections. I don't think that Bush really wants to attack Iran or even to achieve regime change there. He wants to play the role of a JFK that would force Iran to make concessions to the U.S. including in Iraq. Should be interesting to watch.