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The Clock is Ticking for A US Attack on Iran

by Dave Lindorff
Clearly this is all madness, but it is also predictable madness. The Bush/Cheney regime is finishing out its last year as the most disastrous, most unpopular, most loathed presidency in the nation's history.

Sat, 04/26/2008—I admit to feeling a little like the weatherman who keeps saying it's going to rain, and who eventually is proven correct. I feel certain that the Bush/Cheney regime is going to launch a disastrous attack on Iran, but have made several calls, which have been proved wrong, beginning back in October 2006, when I wrote that it looked like several aircraft carrier battle groups were being put in position for the assault, but then it was called off, thanks to the intervention of former Secretary of State James Baker, who moved to release, several months early, the opinion of his "Iraq Study Group" three months early, which called for negotiations with Iran.

Now it looks like the attack is coming soon.

The Washington Post's Ann Scott Tyson is today reporting in an article headlined, Joint Chiefs Chairman Says US Preparing Military Options Against Iran, that Admiral Michael Mullen, the nation's top military officer, thinks the US military is not stretched too thin to take on Iran, and that Iran is becoming an "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq.

This article comes only a day after a US civilian ship under contract to the US military to deliver supplies to Iraq fired on Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf--just the kind of aggressive action that could lead to an Iranian reaction and trigger a full-blown US response.

The Persian Gulf is now crammed full of US attack ships, ranging from a missile-armed nuclear sub to aircraft carriers packed with tomahawk cruise missiles and fleets of attack aircraft larger than most nation's entire air forces (and also with nuclear weapons).

Other things also point to an attack, most significantly the pushing out of Adm. William Fallon as Central Command chief, and now his replacement by Gen. David Petraeus, who is widely seen as a "political" general who is essentially a yes-man for Bush and Cheney.

I would say the die is cast, and that it awaits only the pretext.

There would be no melodramatic Congressional debate over the reasons for going to war against yet a third nation this time around. Thanks to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in October 2001 (and never subsequently rescinded) to authorize the attack on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Iraq, which Bush and Cheney have illegally and outrageously interpreted as a declaration of a global and unending "War on Terror," the administration is claiming it has the right to attack any nation it defines as "terrorist" at any time, without authorization. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton helped promote war against Iran a few months ago by backing a Senate resolution authored by Sens. Joe Lieberman and Jon Kyle that defined the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "global terrorist" organization. That was all Bush and Cheney needed, as Clinton, Lieberman and Kyle clearly knew.

In what has to be one of the understatements of the century, Adm. Mullen said he knew that conflict would be "extremely stressing" and "disastrous on a number of levels."

Indeed it would. Troops in Iraq are already on their fourth and even fifth rotation, and the "surge" troops in Iraq for the past year are being sent home, not because their job of "stabilizing" Baghdad is done (hardly! violence is increasing!), but because there's nobody left to replace them, and they've been there for 15 brutal months.

Worse yet, oil prices have hit a record $122/barrel and are causing a US and even a global recession--but that figure will be doubled the minute any US attack on Iran begins. This is because war with Iran would immediately bring all oil shipments through the Persian Gulf, which supplies 20-25 percent of the world's oil, to a halt. Even if not one tanker were sunk, no insurer would cover a tanker in that region. Moreover, Iranian sappers, and their allies in Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, could be expected to take out vulnerable pipelines, refineries and even well-heads in retaliation to any attack.

An attack on Iran would mean global economic collapse.

So an attack on Iran would mean global economic collapse.

Hold on to your hats. I hope I'm proved wrong yet again, but I'm afraid we're in for a bumpy ride. Even if there is no attack, the level of threats against Iran now emanating from the White House and the Pentagon are sufficient to keep driving oil prices skyward.

Americans should look at those pump prices and see Bush's and Cheney's faces in the digital display.

They should also think of the gas they pump as blood, because it is going to be spilled in prodigious quantities if the US goes through with an attack. Not only would countless innocent Iranians be killed by US bombs and rockets and by any radiation released by attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities (the more so if the US or its Israeli ally use nuclear bombs in that attack), but the toll of US military casualties could be expected to soar, as Iran's Shia allies in Iraq predictably turn on American forces in support of Iran.

Clearly this is all madness, but it is also predictable madness. The Bush/Cheney regime is finishing out its last year as the most disastrous, most unpopular, most loathed presidency in the nation's history, and may even be facing criminal prosecution for war crimes once out of office. It has approached each election since taking office by upping the military jingoism. I see no reason to see their political strategy changing. It is critical to them that John McCain and the Republican Party hang onto the White House, and in their view, getting the US into an all-out war with Iran is just the way to do that.

I'm afraid you don't need a weatherman to know which way this ill wind's blowin'.

Lindorff speakingAbout the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at

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This story was published on April 28, 2008.