Former UN Ambassador John Bolton has been never been one to shy away from rattling a saber or beating the war drum. In fact, more than any member of the Bush administration he seems to relish keeping international tensions high. But his recent call for attacks on Iran really takes the cake. In this case he’s asking for attacks on both supposed training camps for militants and for sites related to Iran’s nuclear technology program.
Is Bolton just playing his usual loose cannon role, or is this connected to a concerted PR campaign from forces within the administration for military attacks on Iran? The speculation is that there is serious consideration of “surgical strike” attacks against militia training bases in Iran. The Times in London reports:
The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilize Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.
These plans are being formed despite some concerns about the evidence and importance of alleged Iranian involvement in the conflict in Iraq. The Iraqi government in particular has been doubtful of the evidence against Iran and has – to the dismay of the Bush administration – called for an Iraqi investigation into the charges. An Iraqi government spokesperson added: "We want to find really good evidence and not evidence made on speculations."
Time magazine also had a piece this week about concerns about the intelligence that the allegations are based on (remind you of something?):
Indeed, the U.S. allegations appear to be based on speculation, spurred by the appearance about a year ago of a new breed of roadside bomb in Iraq. Explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, proved effective at piercing American armor by firing a concave copper disc from a makeshift cannon, which transformed the slug midair into a molten jet of super-heated metal. Accusations that Iran was shipping the things into Iraq grew louder as U.S. casualties from the weapon rose. But no concrete evidence has emerged in public that Iran was behind the weapons. U.S. officials have revealed no captured shipments of such devices and offered no other proof.
Advocates for smart and peaceful conflict resolution can’t get jerked around by this roller coaster of rumors of war. Instead we need to keep sustained pressure on Congress to reduce tensions and encourage serious diplomacy with Iran regardless of how hot the Iran temperature is in this week’s news cycle. The latest saber rattling by all sides demonstrates that diplomacy is needed – especially during these sensitive times.