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Are we being set up for war with Iran?

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A number of stories like those below are turning up all in one week, and it's caught my eye, among others. Is someone "preparing the battlefield" of American public opinion?

Foreign Affairs:

Al Qaeda in Iran
Why Tehran is Accommodating the Terrorist Group
The article answers the "why?" question in a way you don't expect, but the headline has a Bush-like scream — Al-Qaeda; Iran; Get it? (Unlike the two examples below, this is not a news item. If Seth Jones is carrying someone's water, his name may be worth remembering.)

Washington Post, same week:
Iran, perceiving threat from West, willing to attack on U.S. soil, U.S. intelligence report finds

An assessment by U.S. spy agencies concludes that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States, highlighting new risks as the Obama administration escalates pressure on Tehran to halt its alleged pursuit of an atomic bomb.
The source here is Congressional testimony by Obama DNI James Clapper, so the article is news. (The man to note is Clapper.) The article also mentions that "thwarted plot" to kill the Saudi ambassador, a story some have found wanting., still same week:
Iran Now a ‘Top Threat’ to U.S. Networks, Spy Chief Claims

American officials have complained for years that U.S. networks were crawling with Russian and Chinese hackers. On Tuesday, the nation’s top intelligence official told Congress that there’s a new danger to America’s information security: Iran. Too bad he didn’t provide much evidence to back up the claim.
Et tu, Wired? Yes, there's a disclaimer. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, that disclaimer is 988 words short of this picture.

Note that the Foreign Policy and Wired articles include disclaimers of a type, but the stories got scheduled and placed nonetheless, and with those headlines (all that most people read). The combined effect of those stories and headlines, and others like them with different hooks, is "Be very afraid of Scary Iran." Sound familiar?

Is a new product being rolled out? Fall product season starts after Labor Day. Spring season starts after New Years.

If we are being set up for war, let's ask a few questions, starting with: By whom? The candidate list is long:

  ▪ Some group of Democrats, including elements of the administration? (See Clapper's involvement above; also this from Leon Panetta, Obama's Pentagon chief.)

  ▪ Elements within the Pentagon, trying to move the needle? (Is there only one McChrystal in McChrystal-land?)

  ▪ Some group of Republicans (the Sheldon Adelsons of the world), working with or without a candidate's foggy support group? (For a prior example of this kind of interacton, involving John McCain, Randy Scheunemann, the 2008 campaign, and the nation of Georgia, try here and here.)

  ▪ The NeoCons, making a comeback? (AEI is on this too.)

  ▪ The Israelis — the government, their surrogates, or others? (Too obvious a perp to need a link.)

  ▪ Some combination of the above?

If this were a novel, watching these machinations would be fascinating. That's a large list of people with sharp elbows and a common purpose.

A second question: Will we fall for it? There are stories that, under Bush II, Admiral Fallon and others were responsible for stopping Cheney's Iranian war plans. Will Kill Iran, Part Deux succeed?

The consequences for getting this wrong are huge. As I wrote earlier, if we go for it, we may not win:
This really matters. It would change the world. If we get this one wrong, we'll be at war with someone who can bring the war back to us, to our Midwestern towns and suburban malls. The population of Iran is more than double that of Iraq (Iran is the 17th most populous nation on Earth). It has four times the GDP of Iraq. It's not peopled by tribesmen and sheepherders alone, but contains a great many urbanized professionals.

Iran is a society that, if pushed to war against the West, will go. The secret services in Iran include groups like the Revolutionary Guard and the paramilitary Basij. The last two groups alone are more than 200,000 strong. Ugly as they are in that spy-vs-spy way (are we more pretty?), they could easily bring the global war to our cities as a regular feature. Imagine Omaha or Moline getting the Tel Aviv treatment. There are lots of Molines. Is that a world you'd choose to live in?

Imagine the oil shocks after sabotage bombings in the Persian Gulf. Imagine oil priced in euros on an Iranian bourse. Imagine security checkpoints in every mall in America after the first couple of bombings. Imagine the eager, muscular overreaction of our national security protectors. Imagine the budget for war on steroids.

And please, let's not imagine that if the Israelis bomb Iran for us, we won't be blamed. If you were Iran, would you not strike at the source first, and the client after? We struck at Al Qaeda by taking down Kabul.
The Iranians might just decide to bypass the client and strike the puppet-master. Unless you think the puppet-master is Israel, that puts us — you, me and our shopping malls — in the cross-hairs.

If this is an op, who's placing all these stories? Is this pre-Iraq all over again?

If it is, let's hope Ms. Clinton is on the side of peace and the angels — along with some of our other generals — and that Mr. Predator Drone will get his post-Super Bowl militarism thrill in other ways.


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