Monday, July 16, 2007

Angling for war: Cheney and Iran

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It will be with Iran, if he gets his way, and, as The Guardian is reporting, he may very well get his way:

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo"...

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week.

All this is speculative, of course. Who is this "well-placed source"? Is he or she credible?

And yet it all makes sense, does it not?

Bush trusts Rice as a close foreign policy confidante, but Cheney is the Prime Mover of the Bush presidency, Rice has been housebroken at Foggy Bottom, and, in the ongoing battle between them, Cheney looks to come out on top. And Cheney has long talked tough on war with Iran.

And one can imagine how to those on the inside a new war is just what Bush's lame-duck presidency needs, a sort of wag-the-dog-with-cruise-missiles-and-bunker-buster-bombs effort. Plus, one can imagine that Cheney just wants war, period, and this is clearly the war he wants to wage. After all, his solution to all problems is the application of brute force, thug that he is, and this is no exception. Iran is a problem? Then bomb it to smithereens.

Oh, and the consequences (which could be horrendous -- further destabilization in the region, further loss of support in the international community, Iran-backed terrorism directed at the U.S., etc.)?

I'm not sure he gives a fuck.

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