Nevertheless, acts of war by the U.S. against Iran are occurring. The Bush administration, with Congressional approval, has undertaken covert acts of war against Iran. These ongoing actions, funded by Congressional appropriations for operations within Iran meant to destabilize Iran enough to provoke either regime change or policy modification, include bombings and assassinations. While one could argue that the U.S.- Iran war on a covert level has already begun, these actions, while provocative, have not created within the present government in Tehran a provocation of sufficient magnitude to warrant a state of war, which would presumably result in Iranian attacks on US naval and ground forces in the region, if not wider attacks elsewhere. Attacks the Bush administration appears to be inviting, perhaps with the expectation that the resulting losses and counter-attacks would generate public support for the administration and the Republican presidential candidate.
Recent Events Undermine Support for War with Iran
Advocating a war between the U.S. and Iran suffers from the widely held judgment that the last attempt to contain Iranian influence by war-making, the Israeli attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon, resulted in exactly the opposite outcome. In addition, increased Iranian influence is one of the few unambiguous results of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Economic and political climates have changed from the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, wherein unintended economic consequences of the Iraq war and large U.S. deficits have undermined the U.S. corporate support for Bush and Cheney. A U.S. war with Iran now is seen as bad for "business as usual", a grave, if not fatal, flaw for any U.S. policy initiative. While some of the same companies that supported and profited from the invasion of Iraq stand to gain from an U.S. - Iran war, a far larger portion of corporate interests see this new conflict as a significant danger to the general economy and their overall interests.
Despite repeated assertions about success in Iraq, the Iraq invasion is widely considered have been a strategic blunder with vast costs and few, if any, benefits. Now, with many of the same advocates of the Iraq invasion pressing to attack Iran, the U.S. military establishment has move from caution to alarm about undertaking a conflict with a potentially more difficult opponent for equally dubious objectives, including the suspicion an attack on Iran may be an ill advised effort to correct problems created by the Iraq invasion and a way to avoid admitting a mistake. These concerns add to widely held doubts about Bush's competence and judgment to undertake such war, even if it were otherwise consider a viable policy.
In an August 13, 2008 report in Haaretz.com, the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel, an arms request, passed to Bush during his visit to Israel in May, was subsequently rejected by the Bush administration: "Following Bush's return to Washington, the administration studied Israel's request, and this led it to suspect that Israel was planning to attack Iran within the next few months. The Americans therefore decided to send a strong message warning it not to do so." While the weapons requested were not identified in the story, except to characterize them as "offensive systems", they apparently were deployable within a short period of time and uniquely applicable to an attack on Iran, likely ordinance such as deep penetration bombs. The story went on to report: "U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen both visited here in June and, according to the Washington Post, told senior Israeli defense officials that Iran is still far from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran would undermine American interests. Therefore, they said, the U.S. would not allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraq en route to Iran." While Haaretz's sources may be part of a disinformation campaign, if true it may indicate resistance to an attack on Iran extends into the Oval Office, further suggesting a rift between Bush and Cheney, whose enthusiasm for attacking Iran instead of negotiating is apparently undiminished. It might also explain why the Israel Lobby's war starting resolution remains bottled up in committee in both houses of the U.S. Congress.
Israeli and Bush administration claims about Iranian nuclear weapons development appear a red herring on the same order as the Weapons of Mass Destruction claims advanced prior to the invasion of Iraq. Only now, having learned from the Bush administration's characterizing Whitehouse cherry picking intelligence before the Iraq invasion as institutional "intelligence mistakes", the U.S. intelligence community made clear its skepticism about administration claims of an Iranian nuclear weapons program in its November National Intelligence Estimate.
European Union and NATO support for an attack on Iran is nonexistent, with the latest conflict between Russia and Georgia raising additional concerns about provoking armed conflict with Iran, a country that receives military equipment and training from Russia and shares its northern borders with former Soviet Union republics Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Especially since the Bush administration used U.S. and Israeli military advisors to train Georgian troops and plan their ill-fated attack on the Georgian secessionist enclave South Ossetia, apparently as part of the deal for Georgian deployment of troops in Iraq. This failed operation reinforcing EU concerns about Bush's incompetence and recklessness.
Evidence of increasing resistance to the right-wing AIPAC's dominance within the Israel Lobby can be found in the emergence of an alternative, the pro-peace, pro-Israel J Street Lobby that opposes a war with Iran and calls for Israel's withdrawal from the Occupied Territories as part of regional peace agreement. Thoughtful and informed critics of current Israeli policies, such as Daniel Levy, are becoming a more significant factor in the exchange of ideas about policy alternatives open to the U.S. and Israel. A recently reported poll among American Jews indicating diminished support for Senator Lieberman (I-Conn), a leading war advocate increasingly seen as advancing extremist right-wing Israeli interests in the Middle East for which no sacrifice of blood and treasure by the U.S. seems too great. Influential critics within Israel, such as Martin van Creveld, professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and expert on military strategy, are speaking out against an attack on Iran by either the U.S. or Israel.
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