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Prelude To War? World is Worried
The chilling report that the Pentagon is planning a "three-day blitz" targeting Iran hasn't gotten much play here in the U.S. The British press, meanwhile, has been buzzing with what the Bush administration's plan is for Iran, and the news isn't good.
The Times of London, which reported on the Pentagon's plans, has a source who claims that the U.S. is looking to launch air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran.
The Department of Defense is always "planning" something. It's what a military does, scenario planning. But with the tough talk coming from President Bush and a series of odd bits of news (a proposed gradual troop drawdown from Bush and the jet carrying nuclear weapons over the U.S. "by mistake"), a bunch of grim theories are emerging.
We can engage in scenario planning, too. For example: Why would Bush want to start pulling out troops earlier than the date suggested by Democrats (a plan he shot down)? To send them elsewhere, perhaps? And the DailyKos.com reports that the base at which the nuke-carrying B-52 landed, in Barksdale, La., is "a jumping off point for Middle East operations." The U.K.'s Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, reports that recently "a group of Bush administration staffers is gathered to consider the gravest threat their government has faced this century: the testing of a nuclear weapon by Iran."
Now, there may be no connection between those stories, but together, they certainly feed the frenzied mood surrounding the U.S. dealings with Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is hardly a cool-headed leader himself, dishing out his own brand of rhetoric. But according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there's no evidence that Iran has weaponized its nuclear program. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said the U.S.'s standoff with Iran is "a reminder of pre-war Iraq...Based on the evidence, we have, we do not see ... a clear and present danger that requires that you go beyond diplomacy."
A ray of hope comes via news that former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani (a moderate compared to Ahmadinejad) has been chosen to lead The Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that handpicks the country's supreme leader, a position higher than that of the president. So the hardliners' days in Iran may be numbered.
The U.S. already has lost a tremendous amount of credibility in the eyes of the world -- so far, the most dangerous stash of Iraq's chemical weapons we've found have been stored at the United Nations Building in New York since 1996. While our president may think he's a cowboy, the fact remains that we can't go it alone in this world. We need allies. We need good will. We need real, sophisticated leadership.
© 2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer