Saturday, May 26, 2007

Reminder: Cheney thinks he can start wars

OK, I knew infighting like this plagued the Bush administration, but I didn't know it was this serious or this bad:

This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.

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 (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.


According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the President's hands.

Juan Cole summarizes:
Cheney and his staff are colluding with the Neoconservatives at the American Enterprise Institute and with Israeli hawks to sideline Condi Rice's negotiations with Iran by getting up an Israeli cruise missile strike on Iranian civilian nuclear research facilities at Natanz, in hopes that this move will push the US into a war posture with Iran.

Clemons is very well connected in Washington and assures me he has multiple-sourced this story. It seems entirely plausible to me.
Now this story is based on anonymous Washington insider dish, so despite Cole's assurances, I remain a bit skeptical. But it seems plausible to me, too. It wouldn't be the first time Cheney has undercut Rice's diplomatic efforts. But is Bush really such a cipher that Cheney feels he can go around him and start a war? (Unfortunately, the answer is probably "yes".) Isn't this pretty humiliating for Bush? If my Vice-President were trying to do something like this to me, I'd strip the VP of all power and ask my buddies in Congress to impeach.


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