A. Cockburn on US/Iran Brinkmanship

Intelligence Briefings to NYT Notch Up Tension: Will They Nuke Iran?
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

President Nixon, a very good poker player, once defined the art of brinkmanship as persuading your opponent that you are insane and, unless appeased by pledges of surrender, quite capable of blowing up the planet.

By these robust standards George Bush is doing a moderately competent job in suggesting that if balked by Iran on the matter of arming the Shi’a in Iraq or pursuing its nuclear program he’ll dump high explosive, maybe even a couple of nukes, on that country’s relevant research sites, or tell Israel to do the job for him.

In Washington there are plenty of rational people in Congress, think tanks and the Pentagon who think he’s capable of ordering an attack,– albeit not a nuclear one — with bombers carrying conventional explosive and with missiles from US ships in the Persian Gulf.

Colonel Sam Gardner, who’s taught at the National War College recently sketched out on this site the plan as it could unfold: already the second naval carrier group has been deployed to the Gulf area, joined by naval mine clearing ships. “As one of the last steps before a strike, we’ll see USAF tankers moved to unusual places, like Bulgaria. These will be used to refuel the US-based B-2 bombers on their strike missions into Iran. When that happens, we’ll only be days away from a strike.”

Gardiner cautioned that “It is possible the White House strategy is just implementing a strategy to put pressure on Iran on a number of fronts, and this will never amount to anything. On the other hand, if the White House is on a path to strike Iran, we’ll see a few more steps unfold.

“First, we know there is a National Security Council staff-led_group whose mission is to create outrage in the world against Iran. Just like before Gulf II, this media group will begin to release stories to sell a strike against Iran. Watch for the outrage stuff.”

As regards “the outrage stuff”, here on cue comes the New York Times’ Michael Gordon with a front page story today, February 10, headlined “Deadliest Bomb in Iraq is Made by Iran, US Says”, and beginning “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.”

It’s no doubt true that Iran has been arming the Shi’a. What Gordon fails to mention is that over 90 per sent of the IEDs used against US troops in Iraq have been detonated by the Sunni insurgents , who of course are not supplied by Iran. More generally, the prime point of interest of the intelligence briefings given to Gordon and other journalists is the timing. At any point in the past couple of years the US could have gone public with roughly the same accusations.

Read the rest here.

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