Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Seven-Day-In-May Scenario 

No wonder US policy on Iran has seemed sort of schizoid lately. It is.
And is anyone surprised that Cheney is behind the game-playing? Steve Clemons at The Washington Note describes what has been going on. And it sounds uncomfortably close to a Seven-Days-In-May scenario:
There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy.
On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney's team and acolytes ...a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.
This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.
The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).
This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.
. . . the official actually hopes that hawkish conservatives and neoconservatives share this information and then rally to this point of view . . . to help establish the policy and political pathway to bombing Iran.
. . . Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.
According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands . . . Cheney is saying that Bush is making a mistake and thus needs to have the choices before him narrowed.
You know, in any other American administration, this would be treason.
This type of thing has happened in the past -- Truman fired MacArthur for trying to pull the US into a war against China; Iran-Contra was about the Pentagon running a foreign policy against Congressional funding restrictions.
But this is far beyond Iran-Contra. This is the vice-president running a foreign policy against the President.
Can anyone imagine Lyndon Johnson sneaking around behind Kennedy's back, trying to get Mexico to start a war against Cuba?
Or does anyone think Daddy Bush would have tolerated for one second Dan Quayle muscling Columbia into starting a war against Venezuela?
But it doesn't take any imagination at all to think of Cheney pushing Israel to start a war against Iran, to cut off Bush's options for avoiding another war in the Middle East.
And does anyone think that Bush has the spine to deal with this? Or will we see another "My Pet Goat" moment, where Bush sits frozen in fear and indecision while Cheney takes over running the country?

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