The Gathering Storm


Scott Horton sees one:

So let us review how the stage is being set now for a war against Iran. We can say, of course, that war preparations are the essence of every sound military – that they should not be viewed as any sort of guarantor. A show of strength may avert war, as one of my Air Force friends correctly says. And to that I can only quote one of my best military analyst friends, who last night had one single word to cover all this: the word was "likely." "I have come to the conclusion that a major military conflict between the United States and Iran is now likely," he said. So what, exactly, does "likely" look like?

You might say that the soundest approach in feeling the path to any conflict is simple: "Watch what we do, and not what we say." So what are the U.S. and the Iranians doing that makes a conflict seem "likely"?

The evidence is striking. I worry about this not because I think we should never wield the threat of military force against Iran. It's because events seem to be favoring the West in Iran anyway and a Cheney-driven bombing campaign could reverse it. Tehran's theocrats, as this blog has reported (samizdat video from Tehran University here), have been cracking down on dissent more brutally than in a long time. They're very insecure and with reason: their economy is going down the tubes (as always happens when you have absolutist maniacs running the show); they may soon have to ration gasoline; they have lost the next generation of Persians. Now is a rational time to focus on tightening the sanctions that have already taken a bite out of the regime. Ahmadinejad's intransigence has helped keep even the Russians on board.

Instead of answering their extremism with our own belligerence, it seems to me we need to leverage the mullahs' fanaticism against them. A bombing attack on a soveriegn nationa would do more to poison the younger generation's view of us than anything Ahmadinejad can say. One day soon, that generation will have a huge influence on the Middle East. It's time we realized that. Cheney is a one-man threat to exploiting that central strategic advantage.