The Guardian thinks that a strike against Iran, administration denials notwithstanding, will come this spring. The ostensible reason is Iran's nuclear weapons program and their repeated intention to use those weapons once they have them.
Vincent Cannistraro, a Washington-based intelligence analyst, shared the sources' assessment that Pentagon planning was well under way. "Planning is going on, in spite of public disavowals by Gates. Targets have been selected. For a bombing campaign against nuclear sites, it is quite advanced. The military assets to carry this out are being put in place."
He added: "We are planning for war. It is incredibly dangerous."
The bad guys in The Guardian scenario are the neo-cons at The American Enterprise Institute and in the Vice-President's office, including the Great Satan himself:
Neo-conservatives, particularly at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, are urging Mr Bush to open a new front against Iran. So too is the vice-president, Dick Cheney. The state department and the Pentagon are opposed, as are Democratic congressmen and the overwhelming majority of Republicans. The sources said Mr Bush had not yet made a decision. The Bush administration insists the military build-up is not offensive but aimed at containing Iran and forcing it to make diplomatic concessions. The aim is to persuade Tehran to curb its suspect nuclear weapons programme and abandon ambitions for regional expansion.
If another reason were needed surely this would qualify:
The most lethal weapon directed against American troops in Iraq is an explosive-packed cylinder that United States intelligence asserts is being supplied by Iran.
The assertion of an Iranian role in supplying the device to Shiite militias reflects broad agreement among American intelligence agencies, although officials acknowledge that the picture is not entirely complete.
Perhaps the picture is not complete because in recent weeks four American helicopters have been shot down in Iraq with missiles believed to have been supplied by Iran.
Iran is making it clear that they will nor desist from building nuclear bombs and they are doing all they can to kill Americans in Iraq. If diplomacy fails, which it often does, to persuade Iran to give up it's maniacal obsession with triggering Armageddon, what exactly do Bush's critics on the left suggest we do?
The question is important and must be answered now by every person who cares about this country and the world, so that we don't have any ex post facto Kerryesque declamations of having been against the action before one was for it.
The question boils down to this: Should we allow Iran to continue to do what they're doing or should we stop them? Those are the alternatives. Let's not have any flummery about "involving the world community," and other such evasions favored by politicians. Assume we explore every diplomatic strategy and Iran remains obdurate. Should we then resort to force?
Anyone who refuses to go on the record with a forthright answer to this question forfeits, in my mind, his or her right to be taken seriously in the coming debates.RLC