"Iran has every reason to believe that a US attack against it is inevitable. There is abundant evidence that our "negotiations" at the UN leading up to the Iraq War were never conducted in good faith. Instead, those negotiations had the sole purpose of winning some legitimacy for a pre-emptive war for which there was no real need indicated by available intelligence. Iran has every reason to believe negotiations at the UN, in its case, serves the sole purpose of gaining nominal support from likely allies Russia and China, and the moral endorsement of war by the Europeans. Given our recent history (and the referral to the Security Council in spite of the fact that, again, the intelligence says the threat is 5-10 years away), Iran has every reason to believe we are not negotiating in good faith at the UN.
Finally, there have been numerous allegations, even coming from the US side, that we've already got Special Forces in Iran. If we've already got Special Forces in Iran to soften its defenses (and Iran's leadership has said they're well aware of their presence), Iran would be insane to wait and allow itself to be attacked with weakened defenses.
We made it clear we were going to attack Iran, regardless of cause. So Iran chose to change the shape of the battlefield, dramatically.
But if--a big if--If Israel continues to act with what is judged to be excessive force, if Israel continues to strike at civilian targets, if Israel continues to disdain the consequences of its actions on innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, then the war is no longer a fight over Iran's right to develop nuclear weapons. The war becomes a clash of civilizations, one in which the US and Israel stand to lose the moral high ground every time they exercise their military advantage. Every time Israel and the US resort to sheer military firepower in the near future, it serves Iran's purpose in the short term. Add to that, by forcing the US to fight a regional war with three or four fronts, it disperses the power of the US' already depleted strength.
Without firing a shot itself, Iran may have significantly neutralized the US primary advantage in this war. They may well lose it, if Hezbollah lacks the discipline to back off when Iran tells it to. But thus far, Hezbollah has shown more discipline than the Israelis."
* sam gardiner via soto:
"Iran has conducted a preemptive strike.
After my e-mail yesterday (Thursday of last week), I continued to receive notes and calls from press, former CIA, and overseas diplomatic sources. A major piece of what I was being told was shocking. Iran and Syria were involved in the planning for the hostage takings. I was even told where and when their planning meeting took place. An individual with former connections to the CIA told me the current situation is all is about the Iranian nuclear program. I was skeptical of that explanation until I heard Zal Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to Iraq, on CNN late in the day. He said, "It is about the Iranian nuclear program."
In other words, Iran did not wait for the US preemptive strike. It conducted its own.
There is something important to keep in mind. If my sources know about the Iranian and Syrian planning meeting, the US and Israeli Governments knew about the plan. Both governments face a profound dilemma. Do they talk about the connection and make a major issue of it? Policy very often follows rhetoric. If Iran is guilty, do we take the fight to Iran? Too much talk can create pressure to act, self-induced pressure that would lead to a greater Middle East war.
The situation-defining next move is Iran's. I'm told by an individual who sometimes talks to people on the Iranian Supreme National Security Council that the hard-liners think they can gain from a limited escalation. They overestimate their negotiating power. They underestimate the dangers of confrontation."