January 31, 2007

War on the Way

What's the deal with Robert Parry of Consortium News? According to Wikipedia, he broke a number of Iran-Contra stories as a reporter for the Associated Press in the 1980s, so he's not some random crackpot. But he also seems to have access to a fairly different stable of sources than most journalists. See, for instance, his report today:
Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region--and for a propaganda blitz to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home. ...

According to intelligence sources, Bush’s Iran strategy is expected to let the Israelis take a lead role in attacking Iran's nuclear facilities in order to defuse Democratic opposition and let the U.S. intervention be sold as defensive, a case of a vulnerable ally protecting itself from a future nuclear threat.
I don't know if Israel's actually preparing to bomb Iran in "mid-to-late February," but the stated logic about "defus[ing] Democratic opposition" seems depressingly plausible. I generally don't think that AIPAC and other hawkish pro-Israel group are pushing the White House towards a confrontation with Iran, if only because I doubt the White House needs the push. Iran poses a threat to U.S. hegemony in the Middle East, and that's reason enough for Bush to adopt a belligerent stance towards Tehran. But AIPAC is quite adept at reining in Democratic critics of Israel, and in this context, that can certainly help grease the skids for war. I also wouldn't mind hearing more about this:
Unconfirmed reports suggest Vice-President Dick Cheney has cut a deal with Saudi Arabia to keep oil production up even as prices fall, to undercut Iran's main source of foreign currency.
In The Washington Note's comment section the other day, Dan Kervick argued at some length that Saudi Arabia has been running "a very effective propaganda campaign" against Iran here in Washington. I don't see any examples, although Hassan Fattah did report last month that the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, was forced to resign because he believed "the only solution to the problem is in negotiating with the Iranians." The Saudis allied against Turki have "sought to closely back the Bush administration as it seeks a toughened policy on Iran."

I also thought I had either recently read or heard a theory that the recent "surge" in Baghdad was chiefly aimed at placating the Saudis, who are getting increasingly worried about Iranian influence in Iraq, but I can't find a link, so let's consign that one to the rumor bin. At any rate, I usually just assume this administration is perfectly capable of doing crazy things without outside pressure.
-- Brad Plumer 5:16 PM || ||