“There is a race currently underway between different flanks of the administration to determine the future course of US-Iran policy,” writes Washington insider Steven C. Clemens on his Washington Note blog. “On one flank are the diplomats, and on the other is Vice President Cheney’s team and acolytes — who populate quite a wide swath throughout the American national security bureaucracy.” This is “worrisome” because the “person in the Bush administration who most wants a hot conflict with Iran is Vice President Cheney.”Clemens cites a Cheney aide as indicating “that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake” by supporting the diplomatic approach to Iran apparently favored by the State Department. So Cheney plans to deploy an “end run strategy” around the president (who’s more swayed at present by Condi Rice’s “realists” than Cheney’s neocons) if his flank doesn’t prevail and Bush resists the demand of the neocons and the AIPAC lobby for a bloody showdown.
“The thinking on Cheney’s team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran’s nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles This strategycould be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulfas to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.”
This is the most frightening piece I’ve read some time, along with Justin Raimondo’s latest column on antiwar.com that draws upon it. Raimondo citing a recent CNN interview with Seymour Hersh links Cheney and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams (the most powerful neocon presently in the administration) to U.S. support for the Sunni Fatah al Islam militia in Lebanon as a means to weaken Hizbollah. “George W. Bush,” he declares, “is totally out of the loop” in what Raimondo calls “the Cheney administration.”
More from Gary Leupp.