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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stumbling Toward Armageddon 

Via Cursor: Bob Dreyfuss of the Dreyfuss Report excerpts a letter that Raymond Close, a longtime CIA operations officer based in the Middle East, sent to his "clients and friends":
Bush (if he remains president for another four years) will become more and more desperate to find a plausible explanation (an excuse) for the disastrous mess that his policy has created. I think Bush and the neocons will, therefore, soon begin to employ the argument that we would have succeeded in establishing a stable pro-western secular democracy in Iraq if it had not been for the fact that the evil Iranian mullahs inspired and instigated the radical Shia Islamist insurgency, thereby spoiling the whole enterprise and preventing America from delivering the torch of freedom to the people of Iraq. This propaganda campaign has already started, in fact, and is beginning to take on a life of its own that is quite distinct from, and clearly in addition to, whatever other (much more legitimate) reasons the United States may have today for genuine concern about the role being played by Iran in the region and in the world—mainly involving nuclear proliferation. The problem is that these kinds of confrontations have a way of escalating over time, inviting tit-for-tat charges and countercharges, until there is no way that national pride and "face" will allow either side to cool down.

What I am predicting is not a deliberate effort by the Bush administration to start a war with Iran (quite the contrary), but rather an ill-considered course of action that starts with a desperate search for an excuse for failure in Iraq, but ends up in a confrontation with Iran that will eventually get beyond Bush's ability to control with the resources—-political, military and psychological—-that he has at his disposal.
If the U.S.-Iran showdown escalates, he writes, it could lead to an Israeli first strike:
Will this stimulate Israel to seek American approval for Israeli preemptive military actions—such as bombing the Iranian nuclear facilities? In that case, what I have described could be transformed from a "worst-case scenario" into a "doomsday scenario.”

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