Monday, October 22, 2007

A war with Iran that is already underway

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to The Sunday Times, the war with Iran has already begun:

BRITISH special forces have crossed into Iran several times in recent months as part of a secret border war against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Al-Quds special forces, defence sources have disclosed.

There have been at least half a dozen intense firefights between the SAS and arms smugglers, a mixture of Iranians and Shi’ite militiamen.

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An SAS squadron is carrying out operations along the Iranian border in Maysan and Basra provinces with other special forces, the Australian SAS and American special-operations troops.

The fighting comes amid an increase in US and British intelligence operations against Iran. Britain’s forces have more than 70 Farsi experts monitoring Iranian communications, and the intelligence is shared with the United States.

Seven American U2 spy planes have passed through RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire this year on their way to Akrotiri in Cyprus or Al-Dhafra in Abu Dhabi, the bases for flights over Iran.

Interesting. Al-Quds may very well be supplying arms to Iraqi militias, as well as to the Taliban in Afghanistan, and, if so, it is possible, if not likely, that the Iranian government not only knows what's going on but approves as well. If so -- that is, if arms are being supplied, and especially if Iran is directly behind that supply -- the case for some sort of military response is strong. And I say that as a persistent critic of the Cheney-led escalation of warmongering words that seems to be driving the U.S. and her allies, whatever allies may be left, in the direction of a significant military confrontation with Iran, specifically, a large-scale attack on key Iranian targets. But is the story credible? And, even if it is, are we getting the whole truth? Likely not.

The question remains, is Iran directly behind the smuggling of arms into Iraq? This question needs to be answered before this war goes any further. Even if Iran is behind the smuggling, is the goal to stop the smuggling or to go to war with Iran? The two can be separated. Stopping the smuggling does not mean going to war with Iran, does not require going to war with Iran. War is what Cheney and his fellow warmongers want, but what would be the consequences of going to war with Iran? They would be dire, I predict -- and many others, too. So, then, a war, of sorts, has begin, but to what end?

As Cernig points out, U2 spy planes "aren't all that good for spotting transient stuff like smugglers -- but great for targeting fixed targets for airstrikes." This may not be entirely true. Spy planes may indeed be able to be used effectively to track arms smuggling into Iraq. Still, he makes a good point. Furthermore, as Larisa Alexandrovna remarks, the use of U2 spy planes may mean that the U.S. has, is, or will soon be "invad[ing] Iranian air space," this in addition to special-forces operations over the border in Iran. Whatever Iran has done, or is doing, what this means is that the U.S. has committed acts of war against Iran. It may be argued whether or not war is justified, and to what degree it ought to be waged, if at all, but there seems to be little or no doubt that war has already begun. If so, I ask with Larisa, where is Congress?

Congress may have approved intelligence and special-forces operations, or perhaps the U.S. is acting without congressional approval. Either way, what we need is a public debate, not congressional rubber-stamping, and certainly not Bush initiating a war without any outside approval at all. There is the Iraq debacle to consider, after all, not to mention an American public that may not be so eager to go to war with Iran, yet another war in the Middle East, possibly a bloodier and even more disastrous war than the one ongoing in Iraq.

Finally, what is true and what is spin? The warmongers have long been trying to make the case that Iran is directly behind the smuggling of arms to Iraqi militias, an act of war that would allow them to make the childish playground case for war with Iran: "They started it." And although the Times article was written by a credible reporter, Mick Smith, who broke The Downing Street Memo story, the newspaper itself is owned by none other than Rupert Murdoch, the media giant behind Fox News and The Weekly Standard, that is, the man who funds neocon and other right-wing propaganda in the U.S. and around the world, a man who may have an interest in fomenting war with Iran and who certainly has an interest in supporting those who do. There is good reason, it seems to me, to be skeptical.

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