The Bush administration and their neocon enablers aren't waiting until Labor Day to begin their full-court press for war with Iran. They've already begun the roll-out in the UK press, from where internet pundits can import the propaganda back to the U.S.
It's a tactic which has been used successfully by the Bush administration in the past and even one they can legally use military and intelligence agancy expertise in psyops to facillitate. There's no law against using federal agencies to craft and then help plant stories in the foreign media, and the borderless nature of blogs and websites ensures that the messaging is catapulted here in America in turn.
Tomorrow, both of the neocon-friendly UK broadsheets have articles based entirely on messaging from neocon think-tanks.
Murdoch's Sunday Times relies on their most frequent administration shill, Sarah Baxter:
THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.Every single source cited there is either a neocon think-tanker or in the neocon's pockets - including Jafarzadeh who is mouthpiece for a Marxist/Islamist messianic terror group called the MeK, who are currently facing atrocity charges for aiding Saddam in oppressing Iraqis and who have been accused of being a U.S. proxy force for attacks in Iran.
Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.
Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.
...According to one well placed source, Washington believes it would be prudent to use rapid, overwhelming force, should military action become necessary.
Israel, which has warned it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, has made its own preparations for airstrikes and is said to be ready to attack if the Americans back down.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran [second link], which uncovered the existence of Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, said the IAEA was being strung along. “A number of nuclear sites have not even been visited by the IAEA,” he said. “They’re giving a clean bill of health to a regime that is known to have practised deception.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, irritated the Bush administration last week by vowing to fill a “power vacuum” in Iraq. But Washington believes Iran is already fighting a proxy war with the Americans in Iraq.
The Institute for the Study of War last week released a report by [director] Kimberly Kagan [wife of surge architect Fred Kagan and part of his planning team] that explicitly uses the term “proxy war” and claims that with the Sunni insurgency and Al-Qaeda in Iraq “increasingly under control”, Iranian intervention is the “next major problem the coalition must tackle”.
Bush noted that the number of attacks on US bases and troops by Iranian-supplied munitions had increased in recent months ? “despite pledges by Iran to help stabilise the security situation in Iraq”.
It explains, in part, his lack of faith in diplomacy with the Iranians. But Debat believes the Pentagon’s plans for military action involve the use of so much force that they are unlikely to be used and would seriously stretch resources in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Then, the Sunday Telegraph, once owned by fraudster Conrad Black and now by a pair of twin brothers who live as feudal lords on their own private island estate, turns to Tim Shipman - a reporter who isn't quite as well known a shill as their star neocon mouthpiece, Con Coghlin.
In a nondescript room, two blocks from the American Capitol building, a group of Bush administration staffers is gathered to consider the gravest threat their government has faced this century: the testing of a nuclear weapon by Iran.As Kevin Drum and I both noted when the Heritage Foundation report came out back in July, you can get a computer model to predict anything you want if you massage the data input enough - and the folks at Heritage aren't releasing their input data set and premises. Drum also noted how closely, by coincidence, the policies that would turn economic distaster into an affordable war were policies the Heritage Foundation were already pushing before the computer model. How convenient.
The United States, no longer prepared to tolerate the risk that Iranian nuclear weapons will be used against Israel, or passed to terrorists, has already launched a bombing campaign to destroy known Iranian nuclear sites, air bases and air defence sites. Iran has retaliated by cutting off oil to America and its allies, blockading the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf bottleneck, and sanctioned an uprising by Shia militias in southern Iraq that has shut down 60 per cent of Iraq's oil exports.
The job of the officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, and the Departments of Homeland Security and Energy, who have gathered in an office just off Massachusetts Avenue, behind the rail terminus, Union Station, is to prevent a spike in oil prices that will pitch the world's economy into a catastrophic spin.
The good news is that this was a war game; for those who fear war with Iran, the less happy news is that the officials were real. The simulation, which took four months, was run by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with close links to the White House. Its conclusions, drawn up last month and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, have been passed on to military and civilian planners charged with drawing up plans for confronting Iran.
News that elements of the American government are working in earnest on how to deal with the fallout of an attack on Iran come at a tense moment.
...Washington officials, with close links to the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council, say that [Bush's recent] speech was designed as a threat not just to Iran, but to America's Western allies, along with Russia and China, who have been slow to support - or who have opposed - UN sanctions against Iran. James Phillips, a Middle East expert at the Heritage Foundation, who helped devise the war-game scenario, said: "It is simultaneously a shot across Iran's bows and an appeal for the international community to do more to stop or slow Iran's nuclear programme."
A former White House aide added: "If this creates in the Iranians' mind a state of fear such that they back off, that helps your diplomacy. Bush is a political poker player. To play poker, you have to know when to bluff."
...Mr Bush's escalation of the rhetoric was deliberate. A former White House aide said that the reference to a "nuclear holocaust" was a precise attempt to bracket Mr Ahmadinejad's quest for nuclear weapons and stated desire to wipe Israel off the map with Hitler's destruction of the Jews.
"By using that word 'holocaust', Mr Bush has provided a moral reason to allow the Jewish state to do what it needs to do," said the former aide. "He is reinvoking the notion of 'never again'. If you believe that there could be another Holocaust, it becomes morally indefensible to stand back. It is a powerful and loaded term. Those people in Europe who believed that the neo-cons have gone away and shrunk under a rock had better wise up fast."
...There are credible reports that the US has stepped up clandestine activities in Iran over the past 18 months, using special forces to gather intelligence about military targets - nuclear infrastructure and air bases, and Revolutionary Guard command centres from which Iran could coordinate attacks in Iraq.
The Pentagon has made contact with a Kurdish group called the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, which has been conducting cross-border operations in Iran, and with Azeri and Baluchi tribesmen in northern and south-eastern Iran, who oppose the theocratic regime. By using military special forces, rather than the CIA, the administration does not have to sign a Presidential Finding, required for covert intelligence activity, or report to oversight committees in Congress.
Information on US targets has leaked from the Pentagon. B2 bombers and cruise missiles would strike up to 400 sites, only a few dozen of which are linked to the nuclear programme. B61-11 bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons would be the ultimate weapon against the heavily fortified installations; first in the crosshairs would be the main centrifuge plant at Natanz, 200 miles south of Teheran.
...In the meantime, administration officials are studying the lessons of the recent war game, which was set up to devise a way of weathering an economic storm created by war with Iran. Computer modelling found that if Iran closed the Straits of Hormuz, it would nearly double the world price of oil, knock $161 billion off American GDP in a single quarter, cost one million jobs and slash disposable income by $260 billion a quarter.
The war gamers advocated deploying American oil reserves - good for 60 days - using military force to break the blockade (two US aircraft carrier groups and half of America's 277 warships are already stationed close to Iran), opening up oil development in Alaska, and ending import tariffs on ethanol fuel. If the government also subsidised fuel for poorer Americans, the war-gamers concluded, it would mitigate the financial consequences of a conflict.
The Heritage report concludes: "The results were impressive. The policy recommendations eliminated virtually all of the negative outcomes from the blockade."
I've inserted some bio information on the people and groups mentioned as sources for these two articles. Draw your own conclusions about their interconnectedness. More information can be found here.
Update The link for Alex Debat's bio at the Nixon Center is now blank, following the scandal surrounding his making up his PhD and making up interviews with prominent international figures. But here's the cache so you can see what it said before the Nixon center accepted his resignation.