Two glimpses into the Administration's subconscious about Iran today.
Krauthammer delivers the usual prefecatory warnings that war with Iran will be fraught with grave risks before urging we jump over the cliff anyway. Krauthammer, in the Stiftung's experience, speaks for a number within Cheney's office, the NSC and Pentagon.
And Ignatius reveals an interesting take away from a conversation with Dubya, leaving him to believe that Dubya wants a coercive way short of all out war to escape the strategic American cul de sac in the Middle East. This would not only reflect the Hadley, Rice and James Baker point of view but also the Newt/Ledeen regime change camps', too. The triple play is that such a line also happily supports the RNC strategy to suppress talk of military campaigns and keep the focus on terrorism for the Fall elections.
Ignatius may be a solid foreign affairs writing now and then yet his column today strikes us as naive. He is certainly correct that discussion of military strikes on Iran is reaching a fever pitch among the chattering classes and even within lower levels of the Administration. Yet his column serves the purpose of sending the Dubya peace message to distraught security Moms everywhere, vital to keep the focus this Fall in terrorism, not Iraq or Iran.
Even on its own terms, Dubya himself has dug the hole in which we find ourselves with Iran. If he speaks now of peace it is because he himself has blown his other options. And Ignatius surely will recall as well as we do the outright lies of omission Dubya told the nation, claiming he did not have a “war plan” on his desk when he was intimately working with Franks and Rumsfeld on the disasterous campaign into Iraq. Or his other protestations of peaceful intent in 2002 and early 2003.
At this moment, however, ceteris paribus we still think strikes on Iran before 2009 are 40%. Not because Dubya is a man of peace but because he has so recklessly squandered American strategic capital. An Iranian campaign must still likely await the “National Greatness” of McCain et al.