“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign."Hersh's credibility is proven top-notch so don't doubt the above; it's very likely to be 100% true. These guys truly are crazy.
In my interviews, I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. “Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’” the former intelligence official told me. “But they say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned—not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there.”
The civilian leadership in the Pentagon has argued that no diplomatic progress on the Iranian nuclear threat will take place unless there is a credible threat of military action. “The neocons say negotiations are a bad deal,” a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) told me. “And the only thing the Iranians understand is pressure. And that they also need to be whacked.”
The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids.
“They believe that about three-quarters of the potential targets can be destroyed from the air, and a quarter are too close to population centers, or buried too deep, to be targeted,” the consultant said. Inevitably, he added, some suspicious sites need to be checked out by American or Israeli commando teams—in on-the-ground surveillance—before being targeted.
The hawks in the Administration believe that it will soon become clear that the Europeans’ negotiated approach cannot succeed, and that at that time the Administration will act.
Meanwhile, in The Atlantic, James Fallows writes about a war game run by some true big guns: an AF Colonel with 20+ years of experience with war simulations and whose exercises were adopted in last year's invasion of Iraq, former weapons inspector David Kay, former CIA experts on Iran and the region, etc.
1) Iran will have an arsenal in a few years.Odds favor GW & the gang to once again ignore the sober, sane advice of others and to instead go gung-ho with all guns a blazing....
2) Iran's involvement with Iraq is widespread; raise the heat on Iran and watch the heat suddenly rise in Iraq.
3) An Israeli strike would incur many risks.
4) There is no military solution; diplomacy must work.