Seymour Hersh's expos' for The New Yorker  on the Pentagon's usurpation of the CIA's past turf in covert operations dovetails with two other recent pieces of analysis to produce a frightening picture of the American Empire's latest moves against Iran--as well as against the Old Republic's adherence to Constitutional standards regarding war making powers.
Hersh's tome makes it clear that Bush's Presidential finding of last summer, which authorized Defense Department covert operations against the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), is explicitly designed to circumvent the Congressional legislation of the 1970s which required the CIA to inform House and Senate Intelligence Committees of secret offensive actions designed to destabilize targeted regimes. In the new mix, the Rumsfeld-Perle-Wolfowitz-Feith-Shulsky Defense Department can undertake the actions in question, minus the statutory requirements for formal notification of the relevant Hill Committees. In a rhetorical sleight-of-hand, the CIA's 'covert operations' will now be called 'black reconnaissance' when undertaken by the Pentagon. The game being played is both evident and disturbing.
Ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi, a partner of Cannistraro Associates and Deep Background analyst for Pat Buchanan's The American Conservative, weighed in for the latter publication on January 17th with further pieces of the puzzle which suggest present American-Israeli 'black reconnaissance' against Iran, soon to be followed this summer by overt military hostilities. Giraldi cites an unnamed White House source who indicates that 'regime change' in Iran will be officially adopted as Bush Administration policy shortly after the Inaugural. Giraldi's 'well placed source' indicates that the Pentagon is already running black operations against the Iranians out of Azerbaijan and western Afghanistan, utilizing Israeli advisers with operational teams in the former country, along with the Turks.
The third alarming piece of the mosaic is to be found in Guy Dinmore's January 18th's article for the Financial Times, entitled, 'Neocons Turn Their Attention to Iran.' The key Iranian exilic-expatriate organization mentioned by Dinmore is called the Alliance for Democracy in Iran. Affiliated activists describe the Alliance as 'an opposition umbrella group that would act as a 'clearing house' for US taxpayers' money dedicated to advancing the cause of democracy.' Not coincidentally, at least some of the group's members are interested in the restoration of the Pahlavi Peacock Throne in Tehran, in the personage of the late Shah's son, Reza. The Alliance is 'inspired' by Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute and is affiliated with the neo-conservative Hudson Institute.
The sudden surfacing of this latest shadowy Iranian expatriate organization in the media may soon be followed by serious American greenbacking. U. S. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas has already placed $5 million for American support of Iranian opposition groups into the 2005 Congressional budget; Dinmore's article indicates that this may merely be the tip of the eventual American financial investment in the project--the Santorum-Cornyn Iran Freedom and Support Act in the Senate (and the corresponding Ileana Ros-Lehtinen bill in the House) might well up the ante of Congressional appropriations to the Iranian dissidents to the robust figure of $100 million. Not surprisingly, the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC), in the middle of the Larry Franklin espionage probe by the FBI, continues to weigh in with its overt approval for subterranean 'black reconnaissance' operations by the Pentagon and its Iranian exilic allies. Handler Ariel Sharon certainly continues to demonstrate palpable expertise in using American proxies for Israeli purposes in Central Asia and the Middle East. But his future problem'and that of Bush'may well be that this once opaque game-plan is now becoming increasingly transparent to an American and international community losing patience with neo-conservative machinations for Empire. A major miscue in Iran might prove to be the straw breaking the camel's back for those betting on this dubious horse.
The President continues to go farther out on the limb with the continued calculated leaks and trial balloons suggesting a coordinated American-Israeli air strike this year against Iranian nuclear facilities in Isfahan, Natanz, Bushehr, Arak, and elsewhere. Neo-conservative miscalculations of Leviathan dimensions in the war with Iraq suggest that an expansion of the conflict into Iran will be accompanied by the same level of miscalculation and faulty analysis that has accompanied the former. Neither Mr. Bush nor his DOD neo-cons have yet explained how American-Israeli air strikes against hardened, dispersed Iranian nuclear sites can be a guaranteed success, even with 500 pound bunker busters. And if preemptive air strikes must be followed by a conventional ground invasion, Mr. Bush must convince the American public that the inability of 150,000 United States infantry to pacify an Iraq with a population of 26 million is not a logical precursor to an even larger military disaster in an Iran of 70 million people--where over half of the population is under the age of 30.
Other problems abound. Can the United States sustain the political blowback which would ensue from large numbers of Iranian civilian casualties in urban areas adjacent to several of the most prominent nuclear targets? What about the inherent irony of attacking a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [Iran] in an alliance with Israel, the region's premier nuclear and biological power and a non-signatory to NPT? Do the neo-cons really believe that American-Israeli air strikes against Iran would be followed by an indigenous popular uprising against the IRI regime? Or would there be a monstrous political backlash against the United States and Israel by Iranians across the political spectrum in the aftermath of the strikes? What will Vladimir Putin's reaction be if Russian advisers in Iran perish in the strikes? And will the American public buy a surrogate war for Sharon which will add billions to the budget deficit, while resulting in downward pressure on the American dollar and a burgeoning death toll for its sons and daughters entombed in flag-draped coffins?
Two related pieces of political dynamite for Mr. Bush must also be mentioned in any analysis of the matrix of circumstances accompanying the latest storm clouds on the horizon. The first is the looming imposition of the Draft. With the preponderance of American Army divisions tied down in Iraq, and the cannibalization of National Guard and Reserve units throughout the United States necessitated by the war of counter-insurgency in Iraqi cities, a major expansion of military operations to include a full-scale war with Iran (and possibly Syria and North Korea) can be undertaken only by military conscription. It is self-evident that the committal of 400,000 troops in Iran subsequent to American air strikes can be implemented only with such a conscription policy in mind. It is also clear that a post-Vietnam return to conscription will provoke a massive increase in the volume of indigenous American political debate and re-assessment of the costs of Empire, as a larger cross-section of America begins paying the flesh-and-blood price of perpetual war for Israel and oil pipelines.
The second stick of lighted dynamite is yet another instance of American involvement in a foreign war being generated by an Executive Branch in total disregard of an increasingly compliant Congress, not cognizant of its Constitutional responsibilities to the people of the United States as expressed in Section 1, Article 8. The exposure of the fraudulent case for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq has cost Mr. Bush and the Congress a tremendous price in political capital both domestically and abroad. The pursuit of a preemptive war with Iran without air-tight political and moral evidence for doing so, may result in a level of distrust and hostility toward the President and the Hill not seen since the Kennedy Assassination, Vietnam, and Nixon's demise in the Watergate affair.
The upshot of it all? The possible beginning of the dreaded conflict of civilizations and the unveiling of the final armed conflict of world history. Only time will tell. And the prognosis is guarded as Mr. Bush prepares to take yet another Oath to a largely ignored Constitution on the morrow, in the Washington Mall.