Not Really. The Military Option Remains on Bush’s Table

The prototypical Cold War which unfolded between the United States and Soviet Russia in the second half of the last century was ruled by the understanding that the two adversaries would stop short of direct military confrontation.

Some modes of warfare are common to that conflict and the US contest today with Iran, and less visibly, China. Both feature ideological, economic and trade warfare; both creep up on the opposition through back doors and stir up dissent within their gates.

But the differences are stark. Iran, for one, lacks the scale, military and technological prowess, and the human resources that made the Soviet Union a world colossus. Moreover, novel modes of warfare are emerging from the chrysalis of the global economy, against which China is as vulnerable as Iran.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington have concluded that these just-short-of-the-brink tactics will not have much effect on Iran; they will at some point spill over into a short, sharp military showdown. If the ayatollahs’ regime survives, the cold war will resume.

According to those sources, trusties of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran’s Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei resorted to secure lines earlier this month to put a pressing question to their opposite numbers in Russian president Vladimir Putin‘s office. They wanted to know whether the intelligence the Russians passed on in early spring – of an American plan to attack Iran in unison with an Israeli assault on Syria and Hizballah – was still on the cards.

At the time, the Russians set the date for summer 2007. Banking on Russian credibility, Iran, Syria and Hizballah have spent the last few months in hectic preparation for war.


The military option is movable but stays on the Bush agenda


With the summer fading into autumn, Tehran and Damascus demanded an update from Putin’s Kremlin office. They were told that nothing had changed in the Bush administration’s agenda to go to war with Iran coupled with an Israeli assault on Syria and Hizballah as long as Tehran refused to desist from its nuclear and missile programs. Only the timeline had moved forward to between late 2007 and the first half of 2008.

The shadow of war expectations in Iran and Syria and Hizballah hangs heavily over every political and diplomatic move in the Middle East these days.

Saudi Arabia, Israel and America’s Gulf allies have been put in the picture.

This week, high-ranking American commanders assured them that, just as President George W. Bush was determined not to retreat from Iraq, he had no intention of reneging on the pledge he gave them in early 2007 not to leave the Iranian issue unsolved when he departed the White House in January 2009.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources report that, after the Persian Gulf was denuded by American Pacific war games of all but one aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise Strike Group, preparations are now afoot to dispatch the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group to the Gulf.

On Aug. 15, a Navy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 120, with three air crew aboard, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean while conducting operations from the USS Harry S. Truman.

Those operations were carried out in preparation for the Truman Strike Group’s departure for the Persian Gulf with some 7,600 sailors aboard.

Commanded by Rear Admiral Michael Tracy, it consists of the Harry S, Truman Carrier and its air wing, the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey, the guided-missile destroyers USS Barry and USS Mason, the fast-attack submarine USS Albuquerque and the combat logistics ship USNS Arctic.

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