O.k., I’ll grant you that the title of the post is inflammatory. But, for maybe the first time, I’m actually scared rather than extremely disgruntled. Sy Hersch has an article in the New Yorker reporting that a preemptive nuclear strike against Iran is being considered as a serious option. You might recall Hersch is the reporter who first unearthed the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
This is the part that really made me nervous:
The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iranâ€”without success, the former intelligence official said. â€œThe White House said, â€˜Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.â€™ â€
The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it â€œa juggernaut that has to be stopped.â€ He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. â€œThere are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,â€ the adviser told me. â€œThis goes to high levels.â€ The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. â€œThe internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,â€ the adviser said. â€œAnd, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.â€
The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. â€œTheyâ€™re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation,â€ he said.
Reading the article called to mind Steve Buyer’s support for using nuclear weapons in Afghanistan.
Buyer said Thursday that it’s too risky to send large numbers of ground troops into mountain hideouts. Instead, small special operation forces could fight their way into caves and bunkers and plant timer-detonated tactical nuclear devices powerful enough to bring down entire mountains.
Add to those things the Bush administration’s recent drumbeat against Iran that has a striking resemblance to the drumbeat leading up to war with Iraq that for the first time makes me legitimately concerned that this lameduck President with minimal support at home, all of his policy initiatives in shambles, and a messianic notion that he is an instrument of the Almighty might actually drop a nuclear bomb in Iran and that he would have the support of members of Congress like Steve Buyer.
Tim F over at Balloon Juice has a good post on this subject. In particular, I agree with the sentiment reflected in the exchange between one of the commenters on that post and Tim F.:
Iâ€™m willing to entertain the notion that this is part of a grand bluff to Iran â€“ look how nutty Bush is, heâ€™ll do anything.
However such a plan would require a disipline and coordination that, given the observations of the last 5 1/2 years, does not exist in this administration.
However, if it isnâ€™t an attempt to bluff, that leaves us with the only other explanation â€“ the entire administration is batshit insane.
You can call that the Mel Gibson strategy, a la Lethal Weapon. Many of us figured that was what he was up to in Iraq, but â€“ oops â€“ it turned out that he was serious as a heart attack. Donâ€™t make that bet unless you want to lose money.
You know, itâ€™s a sign of the times where, in a bet between bluff and batshit insane, the smart moneyâ€™s on batshit insane.