Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Second on the axis

It's early in the Bush administration's second term (so early that it hasn't even begun), but the stars are aligning for an even bigger story than the first term's invasion of Iraq. Seymour Hersh's controversial new article in the New Yorker quotes unnamed intelligence officials as saying Iran will be Public Enemy State #1 in the coming years. According to the article, which a Pentagon spokesman said relies on "rumor, innuendo, and assertions about meetings that never happened, programs that do not exist and statements by officials that were never made", the US has been gathering intelligence in Iran to identify potential military targets. The issue: once again, weapons of mass destruction.

Of the many money quotes from the article:

“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

The president's quote on the matter is unsurprising: "I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush said in an interview with NBC News when asked if he would rule out the potential for military action against Iran "if it continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."

I think a confrontation between the United States and Iran is more likely to occur than not in the next few years. Here's where we see if the Iraq gamble pays off in the deterrence category. Knowing that America destroyed the neighbouring regime even when it emerged they had no WMDs, Khatami and co. would have to be bat-guano crazy to push Bush's (and Rummy's) buttons. Right?


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