A hat tip to Neocons Will Ban Me at Daily Kos for this alarming UPI story: U.S. prepares Iran strike. German journalists have noted visits by high-ranking U.S. national security officials to NATO countries, especially Turkey, which allegedly involved discussions of possible upcoming U.S. air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities:
The Bush administration is preparing its NATO allies for a possible military strike against suspected nuclear sites in Iran in the New Year, according to German media reports, reinforcing similar earlier suggestions in the Turkish media.
The Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel this week quoted “NATO intelligence sources” who claimed that the NATO allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options…
[Further,] the respected German weekly Der Spiegel notes “What is new here is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.”
The German news agency DDP cited “Western security sources” to claim that CIA Director Porter Goss asked Turkey’s premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide political and logistic support for air strikes against Iranian nuclear and military targets. Goss, who visited Ankara and met Erdogan on Dec. 12, was also reported to have to have asked for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help prepare and monitor the operation.
The DDP report added that Goss had delivered to the Turkish prime minister and his security aides a series of dossiers, one on the latest status of Iran’s nuclear development and another containing intelligence on new links between Iran and al-Qaida…
In a December 23 report, the DDP agency quoted an anonymous but “high-ranking German military official” telling their reporter: “I would be very surprised if the Americans, in the mid-term, didn’t take advantage of the opportunity delivered by Tehran [via bellicose statements by the Iranian president]. The Americans have to attack Iran before the country can develop nuclear weapons. After that would be too late.”
The DDP report also said that several friendly Arab governments, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan, had also been informed in general terms that the Pentagon was preparing contingency plans, including “the option of air strikes,” in the event of the new Iranian government precipitating a crisis…
…German media speculation about the supposed U.S. plans has been fueled by a number of high-profile visits to Turkey this month, including trips by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, by the CIA’s Porter Goss and by the FBI Director Robert Mueller, who also delivered U.S. intelligence reports on Iranian backing for PKK operations aimed against Turkey. There have also been some significant Turkish visits to Washington, as reported by Der Spiegel.
“Two weeks ago, Yasar Buyukanit, the commander of the Turkish army and probable future chief of staff of the country’s armed forces, flew to Washington. After the visit he made a statement that relations between the Turkish army and the American army were once again on an excellent footing,” Der Spiegel reported Friday.
“Buyukanit’s warm and fuzzy words, contrasted greatly with his past statements that if the United States and the Kurds in northern Iraq proved incapable of containing the PKK in the Kurd-dominated northern part of the country and preventing it from attacking Turkey, Buyukanit would march into northern Iraq himself,” the German weekly added.
The CIA Director’s Dec. 12 call on the Turkish prime minister last[ed] for over an hour, far longer than customary for a mere courtesy call, and followed an even longer meeting with senior staff of MIT, Turkish intelligence. The Turkish Daily Cumhuriyet reported on December 13: “Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S. air operation against Iran and Syria.”
Der Spiegel noted Friday that the latest high-level visitor to the Turkish premier was NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer. This is not unusual, since Turkey is a member of NATO, but the coincidence of these various trips prompted Spiegel to comment “the number of American and NATO security officials heading to Ankara has increased dramatically.”
Hmmm. I note that “Western security sources” are the informants for some of these reports. Now, who could that be? Perhaps the U.S. itself trying to frighten the Iranian mullahs into compliance with U.S. wishes regarding its nuclear buildup? The article points to this possibility:
Other NATO sources have told United Press International that “all this may be mood music, a way to step up the diplomatic pressure on Tehran.”
It is possible that leaks from NATO and German security sources are part of a ploy to convince the Iranian government that the Americans and their NATO allies are in dead earnest when they say a nuclear-armed Iran would not be tolerated, and that Iran had better start negotiating seriously.
The most paranoiac among us talk about Bush as a military adventurist, as someone who would relish the idea of punching the ayatollahs in the nose while also diverting attention from his innumerable domestic woes. I try to keep my paranoia in check as much as possible. But this report really lets loose the reins of wild speculation. Can Bush really be seriously contemplating something like this in the wake of the abject failure of his Iraq war policy? Does he really want to risk turning the Arab view of the U.S. from a slow boil to a raging torrent of hatred? And has he allowed the wild-eyed, bloodthirsty Michael Ledeen (“Now is the time for Iranian liberation”) and AIPAC to assume control of his Iran policy? These two have been (along with Israel) advocating military action against Iran. But until now one didn’t know that they “owned” our Iran policy.
I want to make clear that the current Iranian government is something I have no use for whatsoever. Their president’s recent statements denying the Holocaust and suggesting that Israel be “moved” to Europe beggar belief. I also feel that Iran IS a potential nuclear threat which must be dealt with. But again we have the same problem we had before the Iraq war. The U.S. has turned to the UN to try to resolve this conflict. But since it has never overtly supported the UN initiative, it may turn around whenever it wishes (as it did with the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq) and say: “We tried and it didn’t work. Now our only choice is war.” And of course as we know with the runup to the Iraq war, Bush’s support for a UN effort to avert war was a sham all along. He wanted war and he got it while claiming that he “gave peace a chance” (fat chance).
It’s deja vu all over again. And what a horrible deja vu this would be. More shock and awe except this time over the skies of Iran. And what does Bush think the outcome of all this will be? Even if he succeeds in destroying Iran’s nuclear capability (which the Iranians have been doing their best to prevent by separating their facilities widely), he will turn Iran from a potentially angry enemy into a virulently angry enemy. Israel has felt the sting of Iran through it’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. Imagine many Hezbollahs unleashed to target Americans throughout the world? Right now the Iraqi insurgents only have the capacity to hurt Americans in Iraq. But if we drag Iran into a similar death spiral with us then we could have a much more serious terrorist enemy, one with an entire government apparatus and international reach behind it.
Who’d have thought that after Bush’s abject failure in Iraq we’d have to once again gear up the anti-war movement to avert another Bush Mideast adventure? It’s so deeply sad and discouraging. But perhaps one slight silver lining is that Congress may take the idea of impeachment that much more seriously since an unpopular president prosecuting an increasingly unpopular war seems eager to get us into another one. Somebody’s got to stand up to this menace. I know Congress’ record on this score has been abysmal. But if some Republicans start getting worried about Bush’ penchant for military escapades and start making noises about their dissatisfaction (and interest in exploring appointment of a special prosecutor, for example), then perhaps Bush and Cheney might be brought up short. I know it’s a long-shot. But who else can stop him? The world can’t, even the American people can’t (since we can’t vote him our in three years). Someone’s got to do it.