Cheney’s Iran Fantasy

There has been much chatter in Washington about what Cheney may be cooking up on Iran, by starting with an end run around Bush. Joe Klein writes in Time‘s Swampland blog.

I can confirm, through military and intelligence sources, part of Steve Clemons’ account of Cheney’s crazed bellicosity regarding Iran. In fact, having just received a second-source confirmation of the following story, I was intending to post it today:

Last December, as Rumsfeld was leaving, President Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in “The Tank,” the secure room in the Pentagon where the Joint Chiefs discuss classified matters of national security. Bush asked the Chiefs about the wisdom of a troop “surge” in Iraq. They were unanimously opposed. Then Bush asked about the possibility of a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear capability.

He was told that the U.S. could launch a devastating air attack on Iran’s government and military, wiping out the Iranian air force, the command and control structure and some of the more obvious nuclear facilities. But the Chiefs were — once again — unanimously opposed to taking that course of action.

Why? Because our intelligence inside Iran is very sketchy. There was no way to be sure that we could take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the Chiefs warned, the Iranian response in Iraq and, quite possibly, in terrorist attacks on the U.S. could be devastating. Bush apparently took this advice to heart and went to Plan B – – a covert destabilization campaign reported earlier this week by ABC News.

If Clemons is right, and I’m pretty sure he is, Cheney is still pushing Plan A.

Here is more regarding the sound thinking behind the Cheney plans and his minions, such as the appropriately named, David Wurmser.

CHENEY AND IRAN….Remember that report from Steve Clemons last week about how Dick Cheney is hoping to get Israel to attack Iran in order to provoke a shooting war that will suck in the United States? Today in the New York Times, Helene Cooper confirms it:

In interviews, people who have spoken with Mr. Cheney’s staff have confirmed the broad outlines of the report, and said that some of the hawkish statements to outsiders were made by David Wurmser, a former Pentagon official who is now the principal deputy assistant to Mr. Cheney for national security affairs.

Good ‘ol David Wurmser. A neocon’s neocon. Co-author in 1996 of “A Clean Break,” the infamous document that proposed giving up on peace in the Middle East in favor of armed attacks on Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and, while we’re at it, Iraq too. A man who proposed attacking South America in retaliation for 9/11. The guy who keeps Cheney bucked up when things look bad.

Unsurprisingly, this news didn’t go over well with non-crazy people:

During an interview with BBC Radio that was broadcast today, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he did not want to see another war like the one still raging in Iraq five years after the American-led invasion there.

“You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say, ‘let’s go and bomb Iran,'” Mr. ElBaradei said, in his strongest warning yet against the use of force in Iran.

….Several Western European officials also echoed his concern, and said privately that they are worried that Mr. Cheney’s “red lines” — the point at which he believes that Iran is on the brink of acquiring a nuclear weapon and a military strike is necessary — may be coming up soon. “We fully believe that Foggy Bottom is committed to the diplomatic track,” one European official said Wednesday. “But there’s some concern about the vice president’s office.”

And the White House’s response? An unnamed senior official didn’t actually deny that Wurmser’s account of Cheney’s views was accurate, saying only that “the vice president is not necessarily responsible for every single thing that comes out of the mouth of every single member of his staff.” Roger that. I’m sure Wurmser will be fired any day now. And Condi Rice says the whole thing is ridiculous. Of course Cheney is on board with the diplomatic track. Why on earth would anyone think differently?