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Polk on Iran

Subject:        Polk on Iran
Date:   Wed, 16 Aug 2006 10:59:54 EDT
From:  Ray close



Dear Keeley listers:

Bill Polk has enumerated with characteristic accuracy and depth some
extremely important points that support a rational conclusion that the
Bush administration couldn't possibly be insane enough to contemplate
seriously a military attack on Iran.  All of Bill's points are
indisputable and well known.

A couple of quick comments, however:

    1.  I sat next to General Anthony Zinni at a luncheon in Washington
in April, and asked him if he thought the administration would be crazy
enough to use military force to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities.  He
listed a dozen reasons why that action would be totally irrational (all
the reasons Bill Polk mentioned, and a few more).  Then he looked me
straight in the eye and added:  _"But these people ARE crazy, you know!"
_ (Please be very judicious about quoting that remark.  I obviously do
not have General Zinni's permission to broadcast his personal views.)

    2.  It has been confirmed to me by a different source, also very
authoritative, that the war plans for attacking Iran have been drawn up
not by CENTCOM (which Zinni used to head, and which would normally
control all military operations in the Middle East theater), but by
STRATCOM, the Strategic Air Command, based in Omaha, Nebraska. The plans
call for a comprehensive air assault on Iran so meticulously accurate
and widespread and devastating that retaliation by Iran would be
preempted ---
thus forestalling most of the negative consequences that rational people
like us might contemplate. This plan promises to avoid prolonged
interruption of Iranian oil production and destruction of basic
infrastructure, so as to obviate the need for "boots on the ground" or
"nation-building",  as in the Iraq experience.   (At least the Bushies
are smart enough to realize that we can't do another Iraq thing right
now!.  Let's be grateful for small favors!)

    3.  Two years ago I was treated to a three-hour briefing by a panel
of Israeli Mossad officers in the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv.  The
subject was Iran, and how to deal with it.  The Israelis assured me that
they have extensive contacts with the Iranian exile movement, through
whom they have established clandestine relationships with dissidents
inside the country from all ranks and classes --- from senior clerics to
labor leaders to student organizers ---  all ready to stage industrial
strikes, student demonstartions, you name it --- whenever the moment was
ripe.  I sat there stupified, thinking I must be in a dream.  It was
just as if I were Richard Perle or Douglas Feith listening to Ahmed
Chalabi and his cronies talk about how easy it would be to take over
Iraq, if only the USAF would start the ball rolling with a shock and awe
demonstration.  Ever since, I have developed a dread that people at the
U.S. decision making level were being taken in by the same utter
nonsense from a combination of Iranian exiles and their Israeli
minders.  That dread is stronger today than it has ever been.

I see a faint hope that the Bush people will learn an important lesson
from the Israeli fiasco in Lebanon ---  which is that you can't win the
war on terrorism with air power.  Sy Hersh is right in his analysis that
it was the current Israeli Chief of the General Staff, an air force
general named Dan Halutz, who convinced  Olmert that the Hizballah
threat could be eliminated with aerial bombing and long-range field
artillery.  He was undoubtedly encouraged in this view by his
career-long association with USAF "true believers".  Since he was proven
so far wrong in the Lebanon case, there is some grounds for HOPE that
the lesson will be learned as well by his erstwhile mentors in the
USAF.  There are plenty of very sensible foot-soldiers in the US Army
who know better.  They should take over the thinking part of war
planning from the fly-boys in blue.  But don't count on it!  Bush will
go right on insisting that Hizballah was totally defeated by the IDF.
And that hallucination makes him vulnerable to the wacky notion that
B-2's can make Christian Democrats out of seventy million Persians.

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