•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

Naval armada moves into position

Bush gang 'surges' toward war on Iran

Published Jan 18, 2007 1:38 AM

In the face of spiraling disaster for the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration is moving toward a another reckless adventure—war on Iran.

USS Stennis, part of the naval armada
deployed off the coast of Iran.

The positioning of a second aircraft carrier group—with its accompanying destroyers, cruisers, submarines, cruise missiles and combat aircraft—in the Gulf, along with naming Adm. William Fallon of the Navy to replace Army Gen. John Abizaid as head of Central Command, are ominous signs of Pentagon plans.

This array of deadly equipment and this command change are hardly relevant for fighting Iraqi insurgents in the streets of Baghdad or Falluja.

A package of onerous sanctions on Iran, demanded by Washington and passed by the United Nations Security Council, appears to be part of the war preparations, just as past U.N. resolutions against Iraq served to create a war climate.

President George W. Bush’s speech on Jan. 10 outlining his new strategy for Iraq directly threatened both Syria and Iran. Bush accused both countries of not doing enough to block insurgents from crossing into Iraq and accused them of funneling arms and fighters to aid the insurgency.

Almost immediately after Bush’s speech, the first act of his new escalation took place. It was the provocative storming of an Iranian consular office and the seizure of diplomatic officials in the Iraqi city of Erbil. In international law any attack on diplomats or their offices is considered an act of war.

The following day, rather than pass the blame to lower officials, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice escalated the offensive, goading Iran by declaring that the decision came directly from the president.

Increasingly in Washington and in the corporate media, speculation has opened on whether the hype about a surge of U.S. troops to Iraq is actually a diversion from plans to launch a new, wider war.

War plans unfold

The Kuwait-based daily Arab Times on Jan. 14 released a report that the U.S. military plans a military strike on Iran before April 2007.

The report, written by Editor-in-chief Ahmed al-Jarallah, said that the attack on Iran would target its oil installations and nuclear facilities and be launched from U.S. ships, while Patriot missiles would supposedly guard all Arab countries in the Gulf.

The report said that the Bush administration believes that attacking Iran will create a new power balance in the region. It said that Bush recently held a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others in the White House where they discussed the plan to attack Iran in minute detail.

The Arab Times report was circulated by Xinhua News and China Daily.

Other media and political blogs had similar reports. Steve Clemons, a senior fellow and director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publisher of the political blog The Washington Note, wrote that, “Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the president, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the secretary of defense and to the director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

“The president may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.

“Some are suggesting that the Consulate raid may have been designed to try and prompt a military response from Iran—to generate a casus belli for further American action."

Some Washington analysts viewed Bush's speech as a thinly veiled threat to conduct "hot pursuit" operations across Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria. "There is an ominous element here," said William Arkin of the Washington Post. "When the president pledged to 'seek out and destroy the networks supporting our enemies in Iraq,' to me that means the threat of strikes on targets in those two countries."

Comparisons to Vietnam War

A significant section of the ruling class and political establishment are very worried that Bush's actions will only magnify the disaster for U.S. imperialism, but they have no program of what to do. The Bush policy is the polar opposite of the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton bi-partisan Iraq Study Group, which had advocated salvaging a desperate and losing war with diplomatic overtures to Iran and Syria.

Washington media speculation on the plans to unleash a war on Iran became the topic of public debate when Sen. Joseph Biden, the new chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Secretary of State Rice during a Jan. 11 hearing on Iraq, "I believe the present authorization granting the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that [an attack on Iran] and he does need congressional authority to do that."

Rice did not rule out entering Iran or give a position on whether the Bush administration would need congressional approval.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican and a Vietnam veteran, told Rice, "No one in our government can sit here today and tell Americans that we won't engage the Iranians and the Syrians cross-border.

"When our government lied to the American people and said, 'We didn't cross the border going into Cambodia,' in fact, we did," Hagel said, referring to the Vietnam War. "So, Madam Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the president is talking about here, it's very, very dangerous."

On Jan. 14, on ABC’s “This Week,” Bush National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley refused to rule out the possibility of an attack on Iran or say whether he agreed with the position of Biden and Hagel on congressional authorization.

The danger is not only that the Pentagon will goad or provoke Iran into a response. There is a growing possibility of a staged pretext similar to the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam. In 1964 an alleged attack on huge U.S. warships by a Vietnamese PT boat was used by President Lyndon Johnson to demand authorization from Congress to vastly expand the war in Vietnam.

On Jan. 14, with tensions heightening, Xinhua News published an official denial by the local Fars news agency in Iran of reports that the Iranian Navy had clashed with U.S. battleships in Gulf region waters.

A senior official of the southern Iranian province of Hormuzgan termed such rumors “psychological war” against Iran by enemies. Many Iranian cell-phone subscribers had received spurious messages about a military clash between Iranian and U.S. battleships in Gulf waters.

10,000 targets in Iran

As of mid-January, the U.S. had deployed two full carrier groups to the Persian Gulf. Each carrier carries more than 80 combat aircraft, including F/A-18 Hornets, F-14 Tomcats, SH-60 Seahawks, S-3B Vikings, E-2C Hawkeyes and EA-6B Prowlers, capable of flying more than 150 airstrikes a day. In addition, each carrier group includes guided missile cruisers, fast frigates, guided missile destroyers and submarines, all equipped with “Tomahawk” cruise missiles.

The Jan. 15 Guardian newspaper in London described the war plans that Central Command has developed. The Pentagon has plans to strike more than 10,000 targets in the first day of a war. “It won’t be limited to attacks on a few weapons factories,” says the Guardian. Central Command and Strategic Command planners have been identifying targets, assessing weapon loads and working on logistics for an attack for more than a year.

U.S. wars in Iraq have led to the death of over 2 million Iraqis and devastation in what was the most modern and developed country in the region. Their plans for Iran are equally horrendous.

U.S. policy has been hostile to the sovereignty and development of this rich region. Iranians will never forget the 25 years of brutal dictatorship under the CIA-installed Shah after the 1954 overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government.

Crisis for U.S. collaborators

The attacks and the danger of wider war have created a crisis for both Kurdish and Shiite puppet forces in Iraq. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who is Kurdish, called for the release of the Iranian diplomats held in Erbil. He said they had been working in a liaison office issuing travel permits for the local population and that the office has functioned for many years with the approval of Kurdish regional authorities and the knowledge of the Iraqi government.

In a second U.S. raid, staged later in the day, U.S. troops attempted to abduct more Iranians from inside the perimeter of Erbil airport, but were surrounded by Kurdish peshmerga troops. An armed clash almost broke out.

The greatest fear of U.S. collaborators and of the corrupt and unpopular regimes in the region is that a wider war would bring their total ruin.