Monday, June 9, 2008

PENTAGON RESISTED IRAN AIR ATTACKS

INTER PRESS SERVICE Pentagon officials firmly opposed a proposal by Vice President Dick Cheney last summer for airstrikes against Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps bases by insisting that the administration would have to make clear decisions about how far the United States would go in escalating the conflict with Iran, according to a former George W. Bush administration official.

J. Scott Carpenter, who was then deputy assistant secretary of state in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, recalled in an interview that senior Defense Department officials and the Joint Chiefs used the escalation issue as the main argument against the Cheney proposal. . .

According to Carpenter, who is now at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy, a strongly pro-Israel think tank, Pentagon officials argued that no decision should be made about the limited air strike on Iran without a thorough discussion of the sequence of events that would follow an Iranian retaliation for such an attack. Carpenter said the DoD officials insisted that the Bush administration had to make "a policy decision about how far the administration would go - what would happen after the Iranians would go after our folks."

The question of escalation posed by DOD officials involved not only the potential of the Mahdi Army in Iraq to attack, Carpenter said, but possible responses by Hezbollah and by Iran itself across the Middle East.

Carpenter suggested that DOD officials were shifting the debate on a limited strike from the Iraq-based rationale, which they were not contesting, to the much bigger issue of the threat of escalation to full-scale war with Iran, knowing that it would be politically easier to thwart the proposal on that basis.

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