Now, the London Sunday Times has a report which says it may well be more than just Pace, co-written by the interesting partnership of Michael Smith (who broke the Downing Street Memo story and is widely regarded as the British intelligence community's spokesman in the UK press) and Sarah Baxter (a well-connected pro-American insider in US military and diplomatic circles oft-quoted by neocon pundits).
SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.Well, well.
Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.
“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.
“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”
A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.
...General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.
Pace’s view was backed up by British intelligence officials who said the extent of the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear”.
Hillary Mann, the National Security Council’s main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.
“He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier,” she said. “It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon.”
I suggested back when Pace first broke with the until-then White House line on Iran that he might have been one of Sy Hersh's sources for his report that the Pentagon's generals were revolting over White House plans to use tactical nukes in any Iran strike. Now, Hersh is in the news again with a forthcoming story about alleged US contingency plans for an attack:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite the Bush administration's insistence it has no plans to go to war with Iran, a Pentagon panel has been created to plan a bombing attack that could be implemented within 24 hours of getting the go-ahead from President George W. Bush, The New Yorker magazine reported in its latest issue.So there you go, claim and denial before the ink on the story is even dry. It's a pattern we've already seen today in the transparent attempt at a neocon psy-op story plant in the UK's Daily Telegraph. Is this the same again or does Hersh have the real deal? Either way, it will certainly ratchet up tension.
The special planning group was established within the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent months, according to an unidentified former U.S. intelligence official cited in the article by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh in the March 4 issue.
The panel initially focused on destroying Iran's nuclear facilities and on regime change but has more recently been directed to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq, according to an Air Force adviser and a Pentagon consultant, who were not identified.
The consultant and a former senior intelligence official both said that U.S. military and special-operations teams had crossed the border from Iraq into Iran in pursuit of Iranian operatives, according to the article.
In response to the report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said: "The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran. To suggest anything to the contrary is simply wrong, misleading and mischievous.
"The United States has been very clear with respect to its concerns regarding specific Iranian government activities. The president has repeatedly stated publicly that this country is going to work with allies in the region to address those concerns through diplomatic efforts," Whitman said.
Having to wonder these things, a Kremlin-Watch reminiscent of the worst totalitarian rulers of the old Soviet Union, is what passes for engaged diplomacy and soothing international fears in Bush's world.