Brass On Board

by digby

The story of the day is surely Seymour Hersh's latest in which he says that the administration seems to have convinced the generals that it needs to attack Iran to protect the troops in Iraq:

The revised bombing plan for a possible attack, with its tightened focus on counterterrorism, is gathering support among generals and admirals in the Pentagon. The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targeted ground attacks and bombing strikes, including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities.

“Cheney’s option is now for a fast in and out—for surgical strikes,” the former senior American intelligence official told me. The Joint Chiefs have turned to the Navy, he said, which had been chafing over its role in the Air Force-dominated air war in Iraq. “The Navy’s planes, ships, and cruise missiles are in place in the Gulf and operating daily. They’ve got everything they need—even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf.” There are also plans to hit Iran’s anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile sites. “We’ve got to get a path in and a path out,” the former official said.

A Pentagon consultant on counterterrorism told me that, if the bombing campaign took place, it would be accompanied by a series of what he called “short, sharp incursions” by American Special Forces units into suspected Iranian training sites. He said, “Cheney is devoted to this, no question.”

And the good news is that Britain seems inclined to go along in order to get back their manly pride after that incident with the sailors last spring. (The neocon bullies taunted them relentlessly on that and it worked.)

So, there we have it. All the months of screaming into he void by many bloggers and others on this subject, culminating last week in the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment in which many Democrats, including our presidential frontrunner, signed on to the fundamental premise Cheney is using to justify the attack. (What an excellent move on their part.)

Read the article. It has that sickening stench of a done deal, just like that roll-out in the fall of 2002.

At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq. If Democrats objected, the Administration could say, “Bill Clinton did the same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in Baghdad to protect American lives.” The former intelligence official added, “There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”

Cheney isn't really a politician anymore and hasn't been one for a long time. He represents the people who really run things at times like this, the big money boyz, and their concerns are not so parochial as a Republican win. They run things no matter who's in office. (And anyway, they've set certain things in motion, pillaged the treasury so thoroughly and solidified their hold on the media and the Democrats sufficiently enough that they think a few years of GOP R&R is probably a good idea. They need to allow the Democrats just enough power to be blamed, in any case.)

Hersh has been reporting on this impending Iran attack for some time. He has excellent sources inside the military. Until now he has said that there was sufficient resistance among the top brass to doing this, which sounded right to me. It's hard to believe that the military would want to start a new front at this point. This article indicates that they have been persuaded. And it also indicates that the argument they used is the argument they have also seized upon to sell the war to the American people.

John Amato caught Hersh on Blitzer this morning:

Hersh: You can also sell counter-terror, it’s much more logical. You can say to the American people, we’re only hitting these people that are trying to kill our boys and the coalition forces and so that seems to be more sensible, The White House think s they can actually pitch this, this would actually work…

The subtext of that, of course, is that they will browbeat the American people into either stifling their dissent against this action or risk being called traitors to the troops. Only treasonous betray-up bloggers would dare say a word.

And in case anyone's wondering about how they plan to sell this to the American people, we have our answer. Their spanking new "grassroots" group of bloodthirsty billionaire profiteers are on the case:

Its next target: Iran policy.

Instead of the mushroom cloud fear mongering to get the people to accept this action they are going to use the more subtle form of emotional blackmail: harming the troops. When we object to this action we will be accused of not wanting to protect our boys from harm. And it will probably work, at least long enough to flummox the politicians and tie the rest of us in knots trying to explain what's wrong with that picture, until it's far too late.

(Imagine if the Democrats had really gone to the mat on the Webb Amendment...)

And just in case anyone is wondering what the fallout of this insane action is likely to be, well, nobody knows. And nobody in the administration is thinking much about that, other than once again, I suspect, relying on puerile schoolyard logic that says the Iranians will tuck their tails between their legs and run like a bunch of shrieking little weenies once they realize that mighty Big Daddy isn't joking around anymore.

“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

That theme was echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national-security adviser, who said that he had heard discussions of the White House’s more limited bombing plans for Iran. Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”

It would seem that Cheney and the Big Money Boyz have decided that we can't take any chances on a premature withdrawal from the middle east. And that takes precedence over the possibility of things hurtling out of control. Or perhaps, for inscrutable reasons, they want thing to hurtle out of control. Maybe they are just like so many rich, short-term thinkers who apparently don't love their children or their country or they would care more about the future. (History? We'll all be dead.) Maybe they're just insane. Whatever the case, hitting Iran seems to be more likely than it has been up to now and the political establishment seems to be either on board or paralyzed.

So, how's your week-end going?