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What Hath Cheney Wrought, Part II

I’ll be honest. I’d rather be writing about almost anything other than Dick Cheney’s desire to attack Iran. This story has been with us ever since a senior Bush administration official joked in May 2003, “Anyone can go to Baghdad, real men go to Tehran.” There was a flurry of concern last fall, causing me to write my first post on the subject in October 2006 when this blog was less than a month old.

In January 2007, when President Bush announced the “surge” in Iraq, he went out of his way to put Iran on notice. The following month, I wrote a post called “Collision Course” which laid out, as succinctly as possible, the state of play at the time. I wrote, “It is well known that Dick Cheney, who runs things in the White House, is chomping at the bit to attack Iran….” Following this, I wrote no less than six posts titled “Iran Fever” that chronicled the emerging conflict from every possible angle. After that, things seemed to calm down for a while. We heard that Condoleezza Rice had gained the upper hand.

That period of calm seems to be over now. Fox News is beating the war drums like they did for Iraq. Neocons like Joe Lieberman, Bill Kristol and John Bolton are calling for an attack, and the latest rumors say that Cheney is poised to get his way. Only there is a new twist. The reason being given for attacking Iran is no longer their nuclear program, but the support they are supposedly giving to Shia militias who attack U.S. troops. A series of articles by Michael Gordon of the New York Times has helped make the case. (He also worked with Judith Miller to promote bogus claims of WMD before the Iraq invasion.) Two weeks ago, the Bush administration announced that it would label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps a “terrorist” group, the first time such a label has been given to a national army.

In an August 23 article on AlterNet, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern uses his professional bag of tricks to try to guess what Bush adminstration officials are thinking about Iran. McGovern is best known for publicly confronting Donald Rumsfeld over lies that he knew where WMD was hidden in Iraq. Based on media activity, insider rumor and political maneuvering, he concludes that the liklihood of an attack on Iran is now dangerously high.

    One former colleague, operations officer-par-excellence Robert Baer, now reports… that, according to his sources, the Bush/Cheney administration is winding up for a strike on Iran; that the administration’s plan to put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list points in the direction of such a strike; and that the delusional “neoconservative” thinking that still guides White House policy concludes that such an attack would lead to the fall of the clerics and the rise of a more friendly Iran.

Even scarier, he suggests that the resignation of Karl Rove may be a sign that moderates in the White House have lost the battle on Iran.

    In the past Karl Rove has served as a counterweight to Vice President Dick Cheney, and may have tried to put the brakes on Cheney’s death wish to expand the Middle East quagmire to Iran. And former Pentagon officer, retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked shoulder to shoulder with some of the most devoted neocons just before the attack on Iraq, has put into words…speculation several of us have been indulging in with respect to Rove’s departure.
    In short, it seems possible that Rove, who is no one’s dummy and would not want to be required to “spin” an unnecessary war on Iran, may have lost the battle with Cheney over the merits of a military strike on Iran, and only then decided—or was urged—to spend more time with his family.

He goes on to address the widespread belief that Bush is too politically weak, and it is too late in his term for an attack on Iran.

    Many Americans may still cling to the belief that attacking Iran won’t happen because it would be crazy and that Bush is a lame-duck president who wouldn’t dare undertake yet another reckless adventure when the last one went so badly. But rationality and common sense have not exactly been the strong suit of this administration. Bush has placed himself in a neoconservative bubble that operates with its own false sense of reality.

He refers us to an article by Dr. Justin Frank, a psychiatrist with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, called “Dangers of a Cornered George Bush.” The picture painted by Dr. Frank isn’t pretty, particularly when we consider that the man he is describing controls the most powerful military in human history.

    George W. Bush is without conscience…. By identifying himself as all good and on the side of right, he has been able to vanquish any guilt, any sense of doing wrong. […]
    George W. Bush seems also to be without shame. […] He says whatever he thinks people want to hear, whether it be “stay the course” or “I’ve never been about ‘stay the course.’ ” He does whatever he wants.
    He lies—not just to us, but to himself as well. What makes lying so easy for Bush is his contempt—for language, for law, and for anybody who dares question him. […]
    Despite having no shame, Bush has a profound fear of failure and humiliation. He defends himself from this by any means at his disposal…. He will flinch only if directly confronted about being a failure or a liar. […]
    What a burden to have to face his many inadequacies—now held up to the light of day—whether it is his difficulty in speaking, thinking, reading, managing anxiety, or making good decisions. He will not change, because for him change means humiliating collapse.

We mustn’t expect Bush to suddenly turn pragmatic or accept common sense. His response to failure is to dig in, give us the finger, and repeat his mistakes in a more magnified way. Cheney, who has manipulated him brilliantly until now, understands this, and he knows how to use it to get what he wants, such as an attack on Iran.

In an August 24 report in Raw Story, Larisa Alexandrovna gives us a complimentary piece of the puzzle.

    The Bush administration has shifted from its earlier strategy of building a case [against Iran] based on an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program to one invoking improvised explosive devices…that are killing US soldiers in Iraq. […]
    A senior intelligence official told Raw Story…that the CIA had stepped up operations in the region, shifting their Iran focus to “other” approaches in preference to the “black propaganda” that Raw Story “has already reported on.” […] One former CIA case officer who served in the Middle East even suggested that politically framing the Iranians for its own failures in Iraq would allow the Bush administration to avoid accountability, as well as providing a casus belli for an attack. […]
    “If you were to report that a U.S. surgical strike against key targets in Iran were to happen sooner rather than later, you would not be wrong,” said [another] source…. Some officials speculate that the administration is trying to provoke the Iranians into an incident that will justify an airstrike in response, suggesting that the combined effect of circumstantial evidence tying Iran to the IEDs and an event or incident involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guard might “just be enough” to justify military action against Iran.

She goes on to put Cheney right in the middle of the action.

    None of the sources interviewed for this article referenced President George W. Bush or alluded to the end of the Bush presidency as the deadline for an Iranian offensive. Each, instead, mentioned either the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney or Cheney himself. […]
    One of the former CIA case officers interviewed for this article explained that the Office of the Vice President is making this drastic move in order to lay the groundwork for a possible incident.
    “They still need a trigger and I would not be surprised if we will see some event in Iraq which implicates the Iranians,” said this source. “They need a pretext.”

Putting all this together, we see a humiliated president who becomes more dangerous when cornered, under the influence of a psychotically authoritarian vice president, whose fixation since at least 2003 has been attacking Iran. We see preparations in the U.S. media and in the Middle East for such an attack.

I hope my fears will be proven wrong, both for the sake of the Iranian people, and because an attack on Iran during a presidential campaign would seriously distort our politics. Yet how it can be stopped if Congress remains weak, and the media refuse to do their job? There have been rumors that if an attack order is given, some of our top generals will resign rather than obey. But the responsibility for dealing with an out-of-control executive lies with Congress. In a democracy, we should never have to rely on disobedient commanders to do what’s right!

This post is the last in a series of four about neoconservative evil. The earlier posts were “Neoconservative Death Throes,” “Heart of Darkness” and “What Hath Cheney Wrought, Part I.”


Comment from Martin Sims
Time: September 1, 2007, 12:26

People are quite simply wrong when they accuse anyone of lying about the Iraqi WMD intelligence. It is a popular belief among Iraqi war critics and democrats in general, but it simply is not true. The fact is that even the best analysts of the world’s most successful intelligence agencies can and do (at least occasionally) read the evidence incorrectly. That is not a lie, nor can any statements made by their leaders that may have been based on such conclusions be considered an outright lie. The real question should be “how did so many of the world’s great intelligence agencies get it wrong?”

I believe that the answer is threefold. First of all, answers can be found in Saddam’s paranoid logic. He believed that it was better to risk the wrath of the world’s greatest superpowers, than to let his neighbors know that he was not as militarily capable as he had been. Secondly, vast amounts of chemical and biological weapons were never accounted for by Iraq or the United Nations. Last is the basic fact that all of the intelligence agencies around the world were saying pretty much the same thing. It would seem that the agencies were vetting information through each other rather than vetting the sources of the information itself.

As far as any UN reports are concerned, they have been wrong more often than any intelligence agency could ever be accused of with any sincerity. After the first gulf war, it was found that rather than the years away from concluding Iraqi WMD programs as claimed by the United Nations, Saddam was literally within 12 months from finishing some of his most deadly weapons development programs, which included nuclear weapons.

At the time, Saddam’s own disinformation machine was in high gear shouting the UN’s reports to the heavens in the hopes that he could stall any definitive actions until his weapons programs were completed. Today we see the Iranian mouthpieces doing exactly the same thing. The simple and deadly fact of the matter is that they only need one nuclear device to change the world in a most horrific and devastating way.

The United Nations does not represent the United States let alone any other government in the world, nor does it have any incentive to protect the United States or it’s citizens and the UN has in fact proven itself time and again to be completely ineffective when it comes to accurately gaging the capabilities and or intentions of hostile regimes.

Western leaders on the other hand have every incentive to be as forthright and as honest as prudence and national security allows. Western leaders and the citizens they represent are not the fools Iran would have us to be. We know with little doubt or uncertainty that when a hostile, terrorist regime such as can be found in Tehran says openly that they are working towards the capability of producing weapons grade materials on an industrial scale and furthermore that they intend to destroy Israel, and then add to that the massive construction projects and security programs currently underway in their country, perhaps, just possibly, they might be a threat.

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