The Cheney/Bush initiative for war against Iran may be starting up in earnest. Trita Parsi sees parallels with the war propaganda effort against Iraq in 2002, and an initiative in January of this year:
Bush’s speech to the veterans in Nevada has several similarities to his address to the nation on January 10. That was also slated as a major speech on Iraq, though it spelled out little new about Washington’s strategy except to call for staying the course. Instead, it revealed key elements of the US’s new aggressive posture on Iran.
For the first time, the president accused Iran of “providing material support for attacks on American troops” while promising to “disrupt the attacks on our forces” and “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq”.
Moments after the president’s speech in January, US Special Forces stormed an Iranian consulate in Irbil in northern Iraq, arresting five Iranians who Tehran said were diplomats. Washington described the detained Iranians as agents and members of the IRGC. Later that day, US forces almost clashed with Kurdish Peshmerga militia forces when seeking to arrest more Iranians at Irbil’s airport.
The US move drew stark criticism from the Iraqi government. “What happened … was very annoying because there has been an Iranian liaison office there for years and it provides services to the citizens,” Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshiyar Zebari told Al-Arabiya television.
Similarly, Bush’s harsh words for Iran in Nevada were promptly followed by a raid at the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel in Baghdad where eight Iranian nationals were arrested. The group included two diplomats and six members of a delegation from Iran’s Electricity Ministry. A US-funded radio station reported that the Iranian delegation was in Baghdad to negotiate contracts on electric power stations.
While the eight Iranians were later released – unlike the five taken in Irbil who still remain in US custody – actions of this kind combined with the intensified war of words can, intentionally or by accident, trigger a larger crisis. (A US official later called the Sheraton incident “regrettable” and denied that it was related to Bush’s remarks in Nevada).
Today I received a message from a friend who has excellent connections in Washington and whose information has often been prescient. According to this report, as in 2002, the rollout will start after Labor Day, with a big kickoff on September 11. My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way: They [the source’s institution] have “instructions” (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day; it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this–they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is “plenty.”