Frank Hope argues that recent ship movements in the Middle East may presage war with Iran. Others disagree. I don't pretend to have a crystal ball. I confess that I can see a lot of reasons to think such a turn of events unlikely in normal circumstances. The problem is that the situation is far from normal.
For example, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to an excellent series of articles in the Washington Post about the Cheney Vice Presidency.
Essentially, Cheney salted allies throughout the government, starting before he & The Decider got into the White House. These were people beholden to Cheney who could be counted on to do his bidding. Once his personal network was in place, they proceeded to enact policy at all levels & in all departments of the government, often circumventing the cabinet secretaries responsible for the agencies involved. This extended to include even crucial decisions on the war in Iraq which were made without the knowledge of Secretary of State Colin Powell or National Security Advisor (now Secretary of State) Condoleeza Rice.
The neocons, Cheney definitely included, wanted war with Iraq long before 9/11. Paul Wolfowitz, for example, began writing about and agitating for war shortly after the end of the first Gulf war in 1991. The Project for a New American Century, a right-wing foreign policy advocacy organization, was founded in 1997 by William Kristol (who currently infests the Op-Ed page of The New York Times), and has included such well-known extremists as Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, and the aforementioned Paul Wolfowitz. PNAC’s stated goal is promotion of a “Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity,” to be achieved via increased military spending, an aggressive global posture (including the establishment of a series of military bases around the world—including a significant military presence in the Persian Gulf region), promotion of democracy and attainment of overwhelming military superiority over all other countries. Nothing specific was said in the organization’s September 2000 statement about invading Iraq, but its implications were clear. (Interestingly enough, the main focus of PNAC’s attention at the time was China—which just demonstrates the role of contingency in the course of foreign policy.)
For more details, watch the excellent Frontline program on the war in Iraq now broadcasting on PBS.
Cheney is determined, clever and extremely ruthless. I have no doubt that if he wants war with Iran, he’ll find a way to get it.