From the Financial Times, an article on the possibility that the Bush Administration may be considering military strikes against Iran:
US debates military strikes on ‘nuclear Iran’
The Bush administration’s warnings that it will not “tolerate” a nuclear-armed Iran have opened up a lively policy debate in Washington over the merits of military strikes against the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.
Analysts close to the administration say military options are under consideration, but have not reached a level of seriousness that indicate the US is preparing actual action.
When asked, senior officials repeat that President George W. Bush is removing no option from the table – but that he believes the issue can be solved by diplomatic means.
The US and its European allies on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency continued to wrangle over the wording of a resolution on Iran which insists it has no intention of using its advanced civilian programme to make a bomb.
Gary Schmitt, executive director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neo-conservative think-tank, says that with “enough intelligence and spadework”, the US could “do a good job” of slowing Iran’s programme for a while.
Over at Intel Dump, Phil Carter comments:
Hopefully, these reports are being greatly exaggerated by overzealous think-tankers and policy wonks who have had their head in the sand for the past two years. Fortunately, there are no concrete developments (such as the redeployment of airpower) to indicate that the Pentagon is seriously preparing for an assault on Iran. Nonetheless, the rhetoric is enough to worry me — especially that from Mr. Schmitt at PNAC. How exactly does he think we could do this? What exactly is he prepared to do? And on what intelligence is he basing this proposed course of action? We’ve been down this road before. This is the kind of talk we heard before Iraq too — doomsdayesque estimates of the threat, dire predictions of the consequences if we did not attack, minimal consideration of the aftermath, et cetera. I’m more than a little reticent to rush down this tunnel again without one heck of a flashlight to see where all the pitfalls lie.
I’m no expert on these matters, but I wonder if it’s part of an overall deterrent strategy; have the executive director of a “neoconservative think tank” make some agressive noises, hoping that the Iranians will see that as a real threat while no one in the United States takes it very seriously. But who knows. Either way, I hope this story doesn’t distract us from the really important questions for the future of our democracy — namely, those CBS memos.