Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Former Bush Officials Accuse White House of Trying to Provoke Iran - Warn public that Bush is looking for a pretext to justify a regional conflict

By Deniz Yeter

Hillary Mann Leverett, the former National Security Council Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Affairs under the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004, until she left the administration, has issued a sober warning to the public concerning Bush's intentions with Iran.

In an interview on CNN, on February 12, she accused the Bush administration of "trying to push a provocative, accidental conflict" from Iran as a pretext to justify "limited strikes" against the country's crucial nuclear and military infrastructures, as opposed to "an all-out invasion like what happened with Iraq." (1)

Her warning comes a day after sources revealed to Newsweek that "a second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf" and "that a third carrier will likely follow" to replace one of the strike carriers already in the Gulf. In retaliation, "Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week in a highly publicized test." (2)

When asked what the Bush administration should do in its confrontation with Iran, Leverett suggested that "we should do what Nixon and Kissinger did with China in the early 1970s. We should respond positively, [and] constructively to Iranian overtures, to enter into comprehensive talks with Iran and to strike a grand bargain.

Leverett continued, "A grand bargain would mean we would have to make some concessions, and it would mean the Iranians would have to make some important concessions. But at the end of the day I think there is a path. The Iranians have put this on the table before."

Confronted with the question of why the Bush administration is seeking to lure Iran into attacking, Leverett responded vaguely that it is a part of Bush's broader agenda for the Middle East to bring about a "democratization... peace and stability", to the region.

Leverett is joined by a growing consensus of current and former US government, intelligence and military Officials who accuse the administration of trying to spark another unnecessary and unfounded war in the Middle East for their own self-interests.

In April, 2006, Seymour Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker, detailed the Bush administration's covert actions inside Iran stating: "The Bush administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups." (3)

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner also appeared in April, 2006 on CNN in defense of Seymour Hersh's claims, saying he thinks that "the decision has been made and military operations are under way." He also stated, "The Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, [and] have been saying it for almost a year."

"I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. "And I said, ‘Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units.' He said, quite frankly, ‘Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans.'" (4)

Jim Webb, the freshman Senator from Virginia, whose Election Day victory in 2006 tipped the power in the Senate to the Democrats favor, appeared on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" on February 7, echoing the same warning given by Leverett. He said, "If you look at the framers of the Constitution, they wanted to give the president, as commander in chief, the authority to repel sudden attacks. That is totally different than conducting a preemptive war."

"And you know one thing," Webb continued, "if you look at where we are in the Persian Gulf right now, when I was secretary of the Navy and until very recently, we never operated aircraft carriers inside the Persian Gulf because, number one, the turning radius is pretty close, and number two, the chance of accidentally bumping into something that would start a diplomatic situation was pretty high. "We now have been doing that, and with the tensions as high as they are, I'm very worried that we might accidentally set something off in there. And we need, as a Congress, to get ahead of the ball game here."(5)

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who masterminded the failed Nojeh Coup in 1980 to topple the current Iranian government, came out on February 1 to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasting the Bush administration's handling of the war. He called the "War on Terror" a "mythical historical narrative" used to justify a "protracted and potentially expanding war," and accused them [the Bush administration] of trying to spread the conflict in Iraq to other parts of the Middle East by "deepening [a] quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."

"A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, Brzezinski explained, "followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran. ... To argue that America is already at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Brzezinski also made note of the Bush administration's cronyism, saying, "I am perplexed by the fact that major strategic decisions seem to be made within a very narrow circle of individuals - just a few, probably a handful, perhaps not more than the fingers on my hand. "And these are the individuals, all of whom but one, who made the original decision to go to war, and used the original justifications to go to war," he noted. (6)

Texas House Republican Ron Paul also had harsh words for the Bush administration and Congress, giving an alarming speech before the US House of Representatives on January 11. He accused them both of using "the talk of a troop surge and jobs program in Iraq" to "distract Americans from the very real possibility of an attack on Iran."

Congressman Paul said, "Our growing naval presence in the region and our harsh rhetoric toward Iran are unsettling. ... Securing the Horn of Africa and sending Ethiopian troops into Somalia do not bode well for world peace. Yet these developments are almost totally ignored by Congress.

"Rumors are flying about when, not if, Iran will be bombed by either Israel or the U.S.," Paul added, "and possibly with nuclear weapons. Our CIA says Iran is ten years away from producing a nuclear bomb and has no delivery system, but this does not impede our plans to keep 'everything on the table' when dealing with Iran."

Paul continued, "We should remember that Iran, like Iraq, is a third-world nation without a significant military. Nothing in history hints that she is likely to invade a neighboring country, let alone do anything to America or Israel. I am concerned, however, that a contrived Gulf of Tonkin- type incident may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran. ... Even if such an attack is carried out by Israel over U.S. objections, we will be politically and morally culpable since we provided the weapons and dollars to make it possible. Mr. Speaker, let's hope I'm wrong about this one," Congressman Paul said. (7)


Deniz Yeter is a freelance writer from Overland Park, Kansas. He is also a student at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where he is majoring in Education to become a mathematics teacher in UMKC's Institute for Urban Education. Yeter was born in Berlin, Germany to a Turkish mother and an American father, who was a US soldier stationed at the Berlin wall. His family returned to the US when he was three years old, and Yeter became a citizen at the age of 14.


(1) CNN, "American Morning". Transcript: "Defense Department Offers Evidence High-Level Iranian Leader Is Supplying Arms to Shiite Insurgents in Iraq", February 12, 2007.

(2) Hirsh, Michael and Bahari, Maziar. "Blowup? America's Hidden War With Iran". Newsweek. February 11, 2007.

(3) Hersh, Seymour. "The Iran Plans". The New Yorker. April 4, 2006.

(4) CNN, "Your World Today". Transcript: "Top Iranian Government Officials Speak Out Against the West; Sectarian Attacks Drive Iraqis From Their Homes; Calls for Rumsfeld's Resignation". April 14, 2006.

(5) MSNBC, "Hardball With Chris Matthews". Transcript. February 7, 2007.

(6) Brzezinski, Zbigniew. United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony". Washington, DC. February 1, 2007.

(7) Paul, Ron. "Escalation Is Hardly the Answer". US House of Representatives. January 11, 2007.