"Are the amassing air power in the (IraN) region and sanctions signs of looming war? Not yet.
Interviews with U.S. officials and knowledgeable Iran watchers indicate the stepped up measures are meant for now as a message to Iran to step back from an alleged up-tick in its recent efforts to destabilize Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, and to prevent Iran from taking retaliatory actions against the anticipated sanctions like, for instance, closing off the Straits of Hormuz.
“The idea is definitely to keep the Iranians aware that there is a price to pay for their policies and the U.S. is not rolling over,” said a U.S. official Thursday, speaking on background. “The Iranians are being unhelpful in funding and supporting people blowing coalition forces up in Iraq… [The announced US actions] are to say, ‘We have teeth, we have force. You shouldn’t think we’re some paper tiger. You are challenging us and we have a lot of strength and ability in the Security Council and the international community and diplomatically. Just because we screwed up in Iraq, doesn’t mean we’re screwed.’”
“This is all about preparing options … rather than the reflection of a decision to attack,” an Iranian American with close ties to the administration told the Prospect. “From small stuff, like backing up boats that interdict ships suspected of moving munitions into Iraq, to the more serious, such as interdictions of nuclear and missile related equipment bound for Iran."
Should the United States bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, this Iranian observer added, it “must be prepared to defend the targets of a probable counterattack, such as supertankers, oil facilities of the southern Gulf, and, most importantly, the Straits of Hormuz. Although you may have to sink more than 10 supertankers to block the Straits, the oil markets would have a brutal reaction to far fewer.”
A U.S. official indicated that one reason for the perceived need to demonstrate a show of force towards Iran now is to counter the perception in the region, generated in part from coverage of the Iraq Study Group report, that the Bush administration was coming under increased domestic pressure to offer concessions to Iran and Syria. “People in the region read the ISG report and thought the Americans are surrendering,” this official said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Contrary to other U.S. officials interviewed, retired Colonel Sam Gardiner said in an interview this week that he sees several signs that the United States is in fact moving on a warpath to Iran. He suggested that the talk of sending additional troops to Iraq could actually be about Iran, and said he is also seeing signs that the administration “is beginning to develop the strategic communications message. It is about Iran more and more that you hear people talking …The evidence suggests the White House put an embargo on talking about Iran beginning the second week in October…” That embargo now appears to have been lifted, Gardiner says. “A story” -- an Iran narrative -- “is being put together.” But the knowledgeable Iranian observer says that narrative and show of force could be interpreted another way. “Given the weak position of the US in Iraq, and on the nuclear issue,” he says, Washington “needs all the demonstration of strength she could muster, should she decide to start talks with Iran.”"
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Wat with Iran? Not yet.
Posted by lukery at 12/23/2006 08:44:00 AM