New Yorker: Pentagon Reconaissance in Iran

Seymour Hersh, the same reporter who broke the Abu Graib story, has now come out with insider reports that the Pentagon is scouting military targets in Iran.

In his report he quotes his informant:

“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told [Hersh]. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

And when confronted with the question that the operation of Iraq is not a model of success…

“Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’” the former intelligence official told me. “But they say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned—not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there.”

And on the targets being reconned themselves… this is the quote that worries me the most and that makes this story seem most unbelievable:

“They believe that about three-quarters of the potential targets can be destroyed from the air, and a quarter are too close to population centers, or buried too deep, to be targeted,” the consultant said. Inevitably, he added, some suspicious sites need to be checked out by American or Israeli commando teams—in on-the-ground surveillance—before being targeted.

Now.. planning for an attack on Iran is not that far fetched. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if their were multiple “attack plans” floating around the White House and Pentagon. That said, an actual military strike on Iran would be, absolute folly, and pretext for a wider Middle East war between Israel and pretty much all their neighbours.

If an Israeli commando team were sent to Iran… and discovered… well, what would stop Iran from launching a strike on Israel?

We’re not talking about some washed up dictator who has a couple old MIGs and a few dozen Scuds. Iran is one of the most powerful and militarily advanced countries in the Middle East. They have modern Soviet hardware. They have cruise missiles that can easily penetrate current US naval defenses (ie. Persian Gulf==blood bath). They have *accurate* missile technology that can hit targets in Israel and Iraq.

My take is that at the first sign of attack the Iranians would retaliate with everything they had, not because they think they can win, but because they *know* they could inflict serious harm… and if they do, they would rally an otherwise very reluctant and pro-reform Iranian public.

So what has the reaction to this been? Well, predictable to say the least.

The US Administration says it’s all rubbish.

The Iranians have already said they will protect their nuclear installations.

Ironically, Iran says the report is simply propaganda to get them to cooperate and that any such attack would be met with a “fearsome reign of fire and death.”

I have a friend in Iran, and I’d like to get her point of view. I’ll be trying to contact her over the next few days.

In the meantime, what do you think?

Would attacking Iran “make sense” in the war on Terror?
Is it a fools errand?

5 replies on “New Yorker: Pentagon Reconaissance in Iran”

  1. I’m willing to accept that Hersh might not be credible… but only if you can provide something that would prove it to be so.

    His record with Abu Graib and other stories seems to indicate otherwise.

  2. To answer your question “does an attack on Iran make sense”. No, that’s why I take what Mr Hersch says with a grain of salt. A great deal of information is quoted in his piece as coming from an unnamed government “consultant”. Name, I want a name. That’s the only cure for my skepticism and my conviction that this man’s bias is palpable.

    I agree with you, Chris. Attacking Iran would be folly. Mr Hersch may have covered the My Lai massacre and the Abu Grahib stories. That is not enough to convince me that he is credible in this case. Sorry you can’t prove a negative or so they say. The article was an interesting read. But my BS monitor is buzzing like hell.

  3. “Sorry you can’t prove a negative or so they say.”

    Fair enough. Of course we’ll never know the source because if it was legitimate then of course he wouldn’t blow his sources cover… and if he is making it all up, well he wouldn’t tell us that either because it would undermine his credibility.

    But wait this last time we were caught in one of these “prove a negative” debates weren’t we on opposite sides?


    I certainly hope is “source” is either making it up, or exagerrating greatly… my underlying cynicism and fear of the Bush Administration though requires me to treat the possibility as very real.

  4. Chris says:

    “But wait this last time we were caught in one of these “prove a negative” debates weren’t we on opposite sides? lol…”

    Jane says:

    I can’t remember, we’ve debated so many times…but of one thing I’m sure, every blogosphere argument I’ve seen is driven by perspective and most importantly BIAS.

    Chris says:

    “I certainly hope is “source” is either making it up, or exagerrating greatly… my underlying cynicism and fear of the Bush Administration though requires me to treat the possibility as very real.”

    Jane says:

    Exactly, Chris. You give credence to this expose because it suits your anti-Bush bias. It doesn’t fit my bias, so I remain skeptical. I would very much like to read another writer’s perspective on this information and conduct of a rather intensive investigation, someone like say…David Horowitz, (not he of consumerism fame) he of “once was a Berkley left-wing radical in the 60s and is now a very strong advocate for the Bush adminstration and the war against terror” fame.

    I do feel that the adminstration’s strategy for containing Iran’s nuclear capabilites is to intensify pressure at all levels and talk of invasion is the likeliest most effective tactic to use. Sometimes all you need to do is rattle your saber with conviction to change an adversary’s attitude and a little clandestine activity just might do the trick in this case.

    And the making of history goes on…each week a new chapter is written. I’m eager to reach the end of 2005 and look back to digest the events of this pivotal year for the world of Islam and the West. I don’t believe another “war for oil” will have taken place but the situation with both Iran and N Korea will have changed in significant ways, we can be sure of that, and hopefully for the better.

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