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Two New Wars for Us
Iran and Syria move to the frontburner
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Normally Washington bureaucracies shut down in August, but this year the intelligence community was working flat out to develop information on two crises in the Middle East. One official describes a deep sense of foreboding, recalling NSC Counter Terrorism Security Group chairman Richard Clarke’s description of walking around the West Wing in August 2001 with his “hair on fire.”

Syria is on the frontburner as a shooting war in which the U.S. is already clandestinely involved. The attempt to come up with a consensus National Intelligence Estimate on the crisis has been put on hold, both because the situation is too volatile and because new intelligence paints an increasingly dark picture of the insurgency. A number of atrocities against civilians previously attributed to the Assad government are now known to be the work of the rebels, who are becoming less reticent about their plans to eliminate all regime supporters, which would include most Alawites as well as many in the Christian community. U.S. intelligence has also come to the conclusion that rebel militias are heavily infiltrated and frequently commanded by jihadis linked to al-Qaeda. Attempts by CIA officers to discuss the issue with the rebels’ political representatives in Lebanon and Turkey have been blown off or deferred, suggesting that the movement’s leadership might be fully complicit. There is also increasing concern about a domino effect spreading unrest to Lebanon. Even the Turks are backing away from more direct involvement, worried that major refugee and Kurdish-based terrorism problems are developing.

The Iran crisis is more troublesome because the possible consequences are graver. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta traveled to Israel at the end of July to get a commitment from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to attack Iran before America’s elections. A commitment was not forthcoming, with Netanyahu demanding as quid pro quo that Washington publicly break off negotiations with Iran. Intelligence analysts in Washington are split 50-50 over whether Netanyahu is bluffing. Some analysts are convinced that an attack will come in October when the weather is still good in the region and at a point when President Obama will have no choice politically but to support the Israelis. There has been some intelligence suggesting that Israel has already made the decision, fearing that Obama will ratchet down his tolerance for a military option whether he wins or loses. Reports suggest that Israeli leaders privately view Mitt Romney as useful but cautious, even timid, and do not trust his overblown and politically motivated assurances of support if war were to break out.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Syria 
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  1. Clint says:

    Considering that oil prices would seriously rise,Europe would be furious,counterattacks on Israel would be implimented and Bibi would probably lose his job,Israel may be pulling open the door into their own face.

  2. Jim Evans says:

    This is a good. The more these issues are discussed, the better.

    Syria, it turns out was an American lead operation, part of a plan set in motion years ago, see Which Path to Persia.

    General Wesley Clark made this public, most likely in an attempt to gin up his political ambitions in 2007 (still he did get the word out, whatever his purpose).

    Congress has largley been silent. Even Rand Paul has been silent (not his father).

    If the Obama wanted to cut the terrorists off in Syria, he could, today.

    But he doesn’t.

    Persia is the prize(I wish Iran’s leaders wouldn’t make statements which play into the hands of warhawks, here, and in the Israeli Likud government).

    Most of this is covert.

    I do not think the American People have signed up for this covert action.

    During the Cold War, it can be argued the American People did sign-off on covert action against the Soviet Union and the specter of Communism.

    Sad, but this campaign is foreign policy content empty, yet a war with Iran would send the U. S. into a recession (if we aren’t still in one) effecting our economy which is the number 1 issue for voters.

    Ron Paul tried to make these issues important and discussed, but, in my opinion, did it in an ideological fashion. This may have been necessary for many of his supporters, but scared many Republicans with his black & white presentation — he may have been right — but for a Republican Party, it was too much, too soon.

    Politics is the “art of the possible”, which in this instance meant tapping into Republican rank-n-file uneasiness and recognition the wars tanked Republicans in 2006 and 2008, without assaulting their whole world-view at one fell swoop.

    Bring them along, gently if necessary, as long as your purpose is true, and your commitment is sure. Of his purpose and commitment, I was convinced.

    Oh, well…spilt milk and all that.

    One thing I am sure: Americans are ready to have this discussion, it just takes the right approach. Too bad, neither candidate will lead this honest discussion because Washington D. C. doesn’t want this discussion.

  3. Too bad, neither candidate will lead this honest discussion because Washington D. C. doesn’t want this discussion.

    Courage and integrity among America’s “leaders” are as scarce as modesty in a whore house.

    Most of the time the proper response to whatever one our “leaders” says isn’t to clap or even to boo; it’s to laugh–heartily and cynically.

  4. Nick K. says:

    The handwriting has been on the wall regarding Iran for years now. It seems to me that the question has been- and remains- not not “if” the US begins some kind of military action against Tehran, but “when”. Tinfoil hat time: there may very well be some very clandestine plans in place to have the Israelis take first action, thereby seemingly forcing Washington’s hand into military action that it wants anyway. Obama may even be able to use a new war as a windfall in his lukewarm campaign.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Everyone knows that an attack on Iran by Israel is the same as an attack by the United States because if it wasn’t for US support, Israel would have no spares for their weapon systems & they would be non-functional. And if the US did not provide Israel its petroleum resources, then it would not be able to power its weapon systems.

    And for Russia, an attack on Iran by the US would be like an attack on Mexico by Russia would be to us. So if Israel attacks Iran, we might as well kiss our asses goodbye.

  6. cdugga says:

    Regional nation states do not want war. The danger is an accident or incident outside of the nations control initiating conflict and escalating it. Israel is unlikely to preemptively attack Iran, and Iran is unlikely to overtly attack Israel. Sure the US needs to have contingency plans for an escalating mideast conflict, but hopefully we also have contingency plans to help diffuse incidents and agreements between the larger powers like Russian and the US to avoid being dragged into war that nobody wants except the crazies.

  7. Rock says:

    The U.S. should not consider themselves as world police, it starts too much trouble

  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Iran is very good country by the way it is represented by the Persian people.
    we(west) should give them the space to resolve what they have amongst themselves.
    war or no-war they will always be there like they have been there for a long time (6000 years to 3000 year).
    I think diplomatic solution is the best ‘cos the only other way left would be war!
    we have tried sanctions and isolation for many years without any result.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    If there was ever an existential threat to Israel, it is Bibi’s saber rattling towards Iran. If he wants every nation which is dependent on oil at this throat, given the economic problems on every continent,he can alienate a few more billion inhabitants by mesing with Iran.

  10. The troublemakers in Iran are the Imams and the Republican Guard. They all dwell above ground. The nuclear sites, on the other hand, are mostly underground.
    Why waste expensive bombs trying to destroy their nuclear capabilities?
    In 3-5 days of bombing, enough Imams and Republican Guards could be sent on their merry way to collect their virgins, so as to allow the people of Iran to come to their senses and just turn over their nuke facilities.
    It would be a plus for them as well as the rest of the middle east. Then, maybe, they can have free elections and elect a few folks who aren’t crazy, if they can find them.

  11. In reading on how Benjamin Netanyahu and looking at some of his recent photo, as time passes he seems to become more and more demented, I don’t think anything short of being vote out of office is going to stop him from leading Israel and America into a war with Iran. If we can make it to about October 12-18 (new moon) or to about November 1, about the time of the Iranian winter, we might have a chance, spring of 2013 its anyone guess, maybe by then cooler heads will prevail.

  12. Israel won’t attack Iran until the Syrian and Lebanese Hizballah missile arsenals have been degraded. Israeli politicians can’t afford to have 45,000 Hizballah missiles AND Syrian missiles AND Iranian missiles landing in Israel, forcing the Israeli electorate into bomb shelters most of every day and thus damaging the economy to the tune of billions of dollars. They’re afraid of the political fallout.

    Therefore what WILL happen this year is that the US, NATO and Turkey will attack Syria and Israel will use that as cover to attack Hizballah in Lebanon. An Israeli armored division will cross into Syrian territory while Syria’s troops are pinned down by US/NATO air strikes and provide support for another Israeli armored division to cross into the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon while a third division pushes north into southern Lebanon in a classic “pincer movement” to force Hizballah to abandon much of its arsenal in the south while pushing them far enough north that whatever remains of the arsenal cannot reach most of Israel.

    Only after the Syrian and Hizballah missile arsenals are degraded will the US impose a naval blockade on Iran, thus forcing Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation, thus allowing Obama (or Romney) to attack Iran while claiming Iran was at fault for starting the war.

  13. mlnw says:

    The United States is being forced into a Munich moment, and it is not by Iran’s leadership but by Netanyahu, who has revealed himself to be the most serious existential threat in the Middle East- with the US NATO GCC a close second. Can the U.S. and the rest of the world keep putting up with this? Why is he not on John Brennan’s list when so many less deserving are? His disappearance from Israel’s political scene would solve a lot of problems for the U.S., the Middle East and the world at large. Israel needs a responsible leader, not a fanatic with a masada complex.

  14. Excellant article, but why label it “Two New Wars for US”? They are not “new wars”, they are just “new theaters”. These are continuation of this idiotic Zionist campaign for Israel to take over the whole Mid East. The “idiotic” part is America’s participation.

  15. There’s a country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, that has stockpiled nuclear weapons, killed 38 US sailers,  killed humanitarian workers on the high seas, that has been condemned by the UN many times, and is threatening to attack its neighbor.   Popular belief, stoked by the press, would say “Bomb them!”.  Bomb Israel?  Yes, that country is Israel. Then everything is reversed.  In the case of Israel we are told  must ignore its crimes, send them more billions in aid, and support them in any war they start.

  16. Charles says:

    I think both the US allies (NATO) and its puppets (Saudi Arabia/Qatar/Turkey) will be eventually defeated in Syria.

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