Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blowback of War Likely to Be "Terrible"

Charles Davis

WASHINGTON, Mar 10 (IPS) - Since the release of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's nuclear capabilities last December, the prevailing conventional wisdom has been that the report's finding that Iran is not currently pursuing nuclear weapons had derailed the possibility of the George W. Bush administration launching a military strike before leaving office.
In the months preceding the report's release, the anti-Iranian rhetoric coming out of Washington had been increasingly bellicose, with President Bush suggesting that allowing Iran to gain "the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon" could ultimately lead to "World War III".

The release of the NIE -- the consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence services -- and its conclusion that Iran halted efforts to pursue nuclear weapons "in 2003 primarily in response to international pressure" appeared to be a serious blow to proponents of military action.

Yet some believe the Bush administration could still choose to attack Iran, perhaps so as to ensure a Republican victory in the upcoming November presidential election.

"Their intention to use fear is very clear, and I think that you have to understand how they manipulate American fear to keep power," said Rep. Jim McDermott, a Democrat from the state of Washington.

"President Bush wants to find a way to provoke a military confrontation, or gin up some data to frighten the American people into believing a preemptive strike is defensible," McDermott said at a recent forum in Washington organised by the group Just Foreign Policy. "And I live in constant fear that he intends to do just that," he said...

... And last year, after further tightening economic sanctions against Iran, Democrats in Congress removed a provision in an Iraq war spending bill that would have forbidden an attack on Iran without congressional approval. The measure was removed after intense lobbying from groups such as the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, an influential lobbying group that is seen as supporting policies in line with Israel's right-wing Likud Party.

"It would be a disaster for Israel if the United States took military action against Iran, because it would fundamentally weaken the United States and it would fundamentally weaken Israel's position in the Middle East," argued Nitze. "But nobody in the political horizon, including on the Democratic side of the aisle, has been willing to say this."...
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