Back in February, Over the Line, Smokey! ran a series on the US’ menacing posture towards Iran. The American campaign included a naval buildup, a series of charges that Iran was participating in the killing of US soldiers in Iraq, and a number of planted stories which suggested that a US attack was imminent. By late March, it was clear to OTLS that the US was not contemplating an attack.
It has now been revealed that the plan was one of Dick Cheney’s ideas, to bring pressure on Iran, and that no actual attack was intended. The idea was to simulate the buildup to the attack on Iraq in 2003. Part of the plan was to bring a third aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf; that idea was scotched by the new commander of CENTCOM, Admiral William Fallon.
Admiral William Fallon, then President George W. Bush’s nominee to head the Central Command (CENTCOM), expressed strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking.
Fallon’s resistance to the proposed deployment of a third aircraft carrier was followed by a shift in the Bush administration’s Iran policy in February and March away from increased military threats and toward diplomatic engagement with Iran. That shift, for which no credible explanation has been offered by administration officials, suggests that Fallon’s resistance to a crucial deployment was a major factor in the intra-administration struggle over policy toward Iran.
The plan to add a third carrier strike group in the Gulf had been a key element in a broader strategy discussed at high levels to intimidate Iran by a series of military moves suggesting preparations for a military strike.
Admiral Fallon’s resistance to a further buildup of naval striking power in the Gulf apparently took the Bush administration by surprise. Fallon, then Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, had been associated with naval aviation throughout his career, and last January, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates publicly encouraged the idea that the appointment presaged greater emphasis on the military option in regard to the U.S. conflict with Iran.
The use of propaganda campaigns like this one as a substitute for diplomacy is yet another example of the failed neoconservative ideology. Not only is our military power now overstretched and ineffective, it is unsustainable and counterproductive; and have besmirched the American “brand,” which was our greatest asset.