The abrupt resignation yesterday of the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, Admiral William J. "Fox" Fallon, has sparked a new round of speculation that President Bush and Vice President Cheney have some sort of plan in the works to attack Iran before their time is up.
"And so Fallon, the good cop, may soon be unemployed because he's doing what a generation of young officers in the U. S. military are now openly complaining that their leaders didn't do on their behalf in the run-up to the war in Iraq: He's standing up to the commander in chief, whom he thinks is contemplating a strategically unsound war."
I think 'strategically unsound' is the understatement of the year!
"Across the officer corps, a large number of senior military leaders share Admiral Fallon's broad assessment that a war with Iran would bring unexpected and, perhaps, unmanageable, risks elsewhere in the Muslim world and around the globe.
To Bush, the 'unmanageable risk' is that a Democrat will probably be elected President.
Terry Atlas blogs for U.S. News and World Report with "6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran." They are: Fallon's resignation, Cheney's trip to the Middle East, the Israeli airstrike on Syria, U.S. warships off Lebanon, Israeli comments and Israel's war with Hezbollah.
Atlas explains each one. Why the Israeli airstrike on Syria, for instance? Atlas writes: "Israel's airstrike deep in Syria last October was reported to have targeted a nuclear-related facility, but details have remained sketchy and some experts have been skeptical that Syria had a covert nuclear program. An alternative scenario floating in Israel and Lebanon is that the real purpose of the strike was to force Syria to switch on the targeting electronics for newly received Russian anti-aircraft defenses. The location of the strike is seen as on a likely flight path to Iran (also crossing the friendly Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq), and knowing the electronic signatures of the defensive systems is necessary to reduce the risks for warplanes heading to targets in Iran."
It's still not really beyond Bush and Cheney to order a full-scale preemptive attack on Iran. But the more likely scenario is that there will be an asymmetrical U.S. response to a (possibly trumped up) Iranian provocation. And the most likely scenario is that the U.S. will encourage (or certainly not oppose) an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities -- which in turn would lead the U.S. to come to Israel's defense should Iran strike back.
That's been a favorite Cheney scenario for more than a year. See, for instance, this Steve Clemons blog post from last May, later corroborated by the New York Times. And see my June 4 column, Cheney, By Proxy.
Links at site. To quote Fixer, "We're screwed". On a lighter note:
Jay Leno, via U.S. News: "Well, here's a very scary story. Prescription medications have been discovered in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans." President Bush "calls that the Republican healthcare plan."