As reports circulate of a sharp debate within the White House over possible US military action against Iran and its nuclear enrichment facilities, The Nation has learned that the Bush Administration and the Pentagon have issued orders for a major "strike group" of ships, including the nuclear aircraft carrier Eisenhower as well as a cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine escort and supply ship, to head for the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast. This information follows a report in the current issue of Time magazine, both online and in print, that a group of ships capable of mining harbors has received orders to be ready to sail for the Persian Gulf by October 1.Bilmon has noticed that the Iranians seem pretty laid back about the whole thing.
As Time writes in its cover story, "What Would War Look Like?," evidence of the forward deployment of minesweepers and word that the chief of naval operations had asked for a reworking of old plans for mining Iranian harbors "suggest that a much discussed--but until now largely theoretical--prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran."
But I’ve been having serious second thoughts about that assumption, in part because the Iranians simply aren’t acting as if they expect all-out war, or even a climactic showdown over their nuclear program.So the Iranians know what we know, Cheney is crazy enough to attack them no matter how strategically foolish it is. So what's going on in Tehran?
At first I thought this was due to miscalculation -- that the strategists in Tehran had concluded the Cheney Administration was in way too much trouble in Iraq to even think about launching another war of choice, especially one in which the costs would vastly outweigh the benefits.
As Col. Gardiner has already reminded us, that kind of analysis is both strategically correct and extremely naïve.
You can call Iran’s rulers many things, but naïve is generally not one of them. Ahmadinejad can and sometimes does come across like the kind of loon who tries to sell you religious pamphlets at the airport (or did, before security got so tight) but the nonchalance emanating from Tehran these days is too widespread and brassy to credit just to him.
It finally occurred to me that I may have been looking at this the wrong way. I’ve been thinking about an American air strike as the Cheney Administration's way of kicking over the table and ending the chess match. But the Iranians may see it as simply another move on the board -- a disastrously bad move they could then exploit to improve their position.The Bush administration has fucked up every military adventure they have started thus far making America weaker and playing into the hands of their enemies. Why would an attack on Iran prove to be any different and what are the likely results? Bilmon has more, go check it out.
It’s not so much that the Iranians want the Americans to attack their country, but they may be fully prepared to deal with it and use it to their own Machiavellian advantage -- not just politically and diplomatically, but also to advance their alleged nuclear ambitions. They may even be counting on it. If this is correct, their initial reaction to a U.S. air strike may be surprisingly restrained.