The Cheneyists wanted to bomb Iran based on the same fear-scam Americans fell for when CheneyBush were pushing the invasion of Iraq: nuclear weapons. Here's how their scheme fell apart -- or did it?
In 2002-2003, you may recall, Rice and Bush and Cheney kept hyping Saddam Hussein's alleged robust nuclear-weapons program -- all that "yellowcake" uranium supposedly obtained from Africa and so on -- and warning about "mushroom clouds" over major American cities.
This time, in 2007, the Cheneyists were frothing at the mouth almost daily about the need to attack because the Iranians were just about to achieve atomic critical-mass and it wouldn't be long before they'd be able to launch nuclear-tipped missiles at our allies in Europe, at our troops in Iraq, and at Israel in the Middle East. Iran had to be stopped at once.
But (and it's a very big "but"), it appears that there was a kind of rebellion in the upper reaches of the Bush Administration to prevent the neocons -- led by Cheney, Bush, Addington, Bolton, et al. -- from rushing headlong into a disastrous use of the military option.
THE TUG-OF-WAR WITHIN
Virtually everyone in the Bush Administration agrees that Iran's regional ambitions need to be blunted. The battle is between the "ideologues" and the "realists," the latter being those who think that in light of the intelligence community's NIE findings that Iran's nuclear-weapons program was abandoned in 2003 and could take up to a decade to reconstitute to the point of danger, one has time to develop a strong diplomatic-cum-sanctions policy, with no need for immediate military action.
No doubt, the key players and factions in that rebellion will be revealed shortly. I'll offer my reasonable guesses, for what they're worth: the Joint Chiefs of Staff and many of the senior analysts at the CIA and State Department.
As for the timing, some of those career intelligence analysts were ready to disclose the NEI's classified contents in public ( http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2007/12/the-senate-and.html ) unless the finding were released; these CIA analysts were prepared to face prosecution, if necessary.
I suspect that Defense Secretary Gates fell into this "realist" camp as well. And, who knows?, maybe even Condi Rice, along with a good many key Republican leaders in Congress, who realized how difficult it would be to save their jobs in the '08 election if Bush launched yet another war in the Greater Middle East.
SHORT ON BULLETS & BODIES
The Joint Chiefs, more than anyone in the Bush Administration, know how thin their forces are stretched to service the Administration's ambitious war aims; in order to fill their quotas for warm bodies in uniform, they have to: lower the physical and moral standards for recruits (taking in criminals, gang members, those physically and maybe even mentally unfit for service); use various lies and scams to lure young prospects to join the military; keep sending those soldiers already serving in Iraq and Afghanistan back again and again for yet another rotation; utilize stop-loss provisions in order to keep their hooks into soldiers whose tours of duty are up and should be going home; etc., etc.
In addition, U.S. military equipment in Iraq is constantly breaking down, or "disappears" once it gets into the field. Just this week, it was revealed that the Pentagon was unable to account for yet another billion dollars' worth of military equipment,- (www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/12/06/iraq/main3584247.shtml ) a good share of which no doubt winds up in the hands of the Iraqi insurgents trying to force the occupying American forces out of their country.
Symbolizing how ridiculously scary the situation is there: law-enforcement agencies inside the U.S. are running out of bullets, because that ammo is needed in Iraq where the troops also are in short supply.
BUSH'S LUDICROUS RESPONSE
Bush's first, laughable response to press questions about the NIE release last week was to claim that he was informed in August of 2007 by National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell that there was unspecified "new information" on Iran, but McConnell "didn't tell me what the information was." We were supposed to believe that Bush never asked "what information?", but simply went back to bike-riding in the White House gym. That was the Maximum Leader's cockamamie story, which didn't pass the smell test by any measure.