The Bush Administration is
a Disaster Waiting to Happen

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Sooner or later George W. Bush and his cronies is going to have another disaster. Two wars and Hurricane Katrina later, you might think he's done, but we would be wrong indeed. He still has two more years left before he leaves office in January 2009.

In 6 years we've had 2 wars and a hurricane. The law of averages says we need to have another war or disaster during the next 2 years.

Now I know many of you will say Bush has no control over the weather. How could he have prevented Hurricane Katrina from being such a huge disaster? Well in case you've forgotten already it was the Bush administration that cut funding to repairs on the dykes that surround New Orleans and prevent it from flooding. When those dykes burst during Hurricane Katrina the city was flooded and thats the real disaster. He couldn't have prevented the hurricane damage, but he could have prevented the flooding if he had just repaired the dykes like they were supposed to.

But what about the wars? Bush has no control over terrorists.

Actually yes he does.

During the previous administration Bill Clinton enacted new security measures at American airports designed specifically to prevent terrorists from carrying on board anything that could be used as a weapon. Two months into power in February 2000 George W. Bush got rid of those security measures. Seven months later 9/11 happened with terrorists using weapons that wouldn't have been allowed on board if it hadn't been for Bush's security changes.

And so Bush could have prevented 9/11 if he had simply kept those security measures at airports. The same security measures he later re-enacted after 9/11 and repealed again in 2005. Thats right people, terrorists can now carry onto planes the exact same weapons as they did on 9/11.

But with one major difference... now we have a hidden US Marshall on board with a gun (likely an USP .45 or a Glock 9mm, both of which can shoot through the plane fuselage, depressurize the cabin and cause the plane to crash). Thats right people, one US Marshall on every plane. In case there's a struggle with him during a potential takeover of the plane the gun can fire through the fuselage and the pressure will rip the sides of the cabin to shreds in seconds. Hold on to your oxygen masks we've got an idiot on board!

Actually its amazingly easy to cause a plane to crash. Simply opening one of the exits while the plane is in flight will cause depressurization. Even a rumour of a terrorist on board a flight could cause a panic and a variety of problems.

Do you know the old adage "The best is yet to come."?

Well, its usually true. People and eras tend to go out with a "bang".

If the United States continues on its current warpath, and we can have no doubt that it will, we can expect to have a war with Iran sometime during the next 2 years. Sometime in 2007 or 2008 we will have American troops on the ground in Iran. But unlike last time where we needed convincing to go to war against Iran (using bogus weapons of mass destruction) this time we will have to actually SEE a weapon of mass destruction in action.

AKA, a nuclear bomb.

So Bush needs the terrorists to attack first in order to attack Iran.

And it needs to be something big. Like a new Pearl Harbour or another September 11th.

It doesn't have to be a nuclear bomb, but it would be dramatic (and convenient) if New York or Washington suddenly blew up while Bush was visiting family in Texas or Virginia.

Bush, Cheney Team Up to Soften Americans for War on Iran

By Jim Lobe.

Two very different messages about the future of U.S. foreign policy were broadcast to the world on Inaugural Day Thursday, and listeners everywhere could be forgiven for feeling confused about their import.

On the one hand, George W. Bush's lofty rhetoric about his administration's commitment to bring democracy, liberty and freedom to every country where tyrants rule naturally grabbed the most attention; after all, he is the president.

Even as the speech was much criticized by normally friendly critics probably more than the White House had anticipated as being hopelessly ambitious and unrealistic, the idealism that it expressed was widely praised and unquestioned.

On the other hand, Vice Pres. Dick Cheney's dark words of warning against Iran on MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning" television show conveyed something altogether different, both in tone and substance, even if they were relegated to the inside pages.

"You look around the world at potential trouble spots, (and) Iran is right at the top of the list," the vice president intoned, noting that Washington's chief concern with Tehran had less to do with democracy or even terrorism but rather with its "fairly robust new nuclear program."

And while Cheney stressed that Washington still hoped Europe's efforts to persuade Tehran to abandon any ambitions to obtain a nuclear weapon would succeed, he grimly observed that Israel might well decide to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, presumably before the Bush administration, "and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."

"We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it," he concluded as cheerfully as he could at least until he was caught up short by the cowboy-hatted Imus, who reminded him that the U.S. already has a war there.

To former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Cheney's remarks sounded "like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis" to carry out an attack.

He noted that, coinciding with Bush's idealistic address, they underlined that the administration was "really very unclear regarding its genuine strategic doctrine."

For neoconservatives, who have long used the velvet glove of pro-democracy rhetoric to hide the steel fist of what has consistently been a U.S.- and Israel-centered Machtpolitik, Cheney's warning came as the perfect topper to Bush's inaugural speech, much of which was borrowed from right-wing Israeli leader Natan Sharansky's new book, The Case for Democracy.

After biting their tongue about making Iran the next target of U.S. military power after Iraq through most of 2004 so as not to jeopardize Bush's re-election, they have been noisily pushing Tehran as the chief candidate for Public Enemy Number One in Bush's second term.

Just the day before the inaugural, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who doubles as chairman of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), had told an audience at the neoconservative Hudson Institute that the administration considered Iran to be a much bigger threat than North Korea.

"I don't think George W. Bush thinks he got re-elected to preside over the theocratic regime getting nuclear weapons," he confidently asserted, although he also admitted that there were "big practical questions" as to how to stop it.

Both Cheney's and Kristol's remarks followed the publication earlier in the week of a much-noted article in the New Yorker magazine by prize-winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, which maintained that Washington has been infiltrating Special Operations Forces (SOFs) into Iran from Iraq and Pakistan since last summer precisely to seek out Tehran's secret nuclear facilities and other weapons targets in preparation for possible combined air and ground strikes.

The article, which the Pentagon said was "riddled with errors" that it declined to further identify, also reported that Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whose Middle East views accord closely with Israel's extreme right and whose office is widely blamed for corrupting the intelligence process leading up to the Iraq war, has been working with Israeli planners and consultants on a target list.

It asserted that he and other hard-liners in the Pentagon, Cheney's office and the White House fervently believe that a major military blow against Tehran will topple the regime.

"The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West," one unnamed Pentagon consultant told Hersh, "the Iranian regime will collapse" like the regimes in Romania, East Germany and the Soviet Union because of popular hatred for the ruling theocracy.

Hersh's article was greeted with unrestrained joy by neoconservative publications, such as the New York Sun, the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, as evidence that the administration, hopelessly split over Iran policy during the Bush's first term largely because of the State Department's and the CIA's desire to gain Tehran's cooperation on Afghanistan and Iraq, has finally opted for confrontation.

For regional specialists, such as Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University, however, both the Hersh article and Cheney's grim mutterings are "deja vu all over again."

"In Iraq, we listened to the exiles who said we'd be greeted with flowers and candies so it would be 'cakewalk,' but it turned out not to be quite that way," said Sick, who served on the National Security Council under former President Jimmy Carter and later wrote a book, All Fall Down, about U.S. policy in Iran.

"I can't believe there are people who want to repeat that process now," he added.

Sick and other regional specialists insist that the assumptions apparently being made by administration hawks about the nature of the government, its goals in Iraq, and how a U.S. or Israeli military strike would affect internal Iranian politics are all deeply flawed.

"The ramifications of a military strike are going to be all negative," according to Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution, who supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He said it would likely rally the population behind the regime and provoke serious retaliation both in Iraq and beyond.

Even the "big practical questions" acknowledged by Kristol represent formidable hurdles to ensuring the destruction of Iran's ability to build a bomb, according to Pollack. Anticipating Cheney, he asserted at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) forum last week that "we would all like the Israelis to take care of this problem, (but) they can't."

Central and eastern Iran, where most of the facilities are believed to be situated, is beyond the range of their fighter jets. So in order to reach their targets, the bombers would have to fly over U.S.-occupied Iraq, thus making Washington complicit.

Worse, "(a)ny bombing raid that tries to take out so many sites will be of no value unless it's followed up on the ground," Sick told IPS. "My guess is that neither Cheney nor anyone around him really looks forward to putting boots on the ground in Iran."

Moreover, while there is "quite a lot of real respect for the United States and for Bush in Iran today, if there were an American attack, all of that would just vanish overnight," he said, pressing a more hopeful view of Cheney's and the administration's intentions.

"I think this is actually a campaign to intimidate Iran," he said. "It's holding out a palpable threat that if you don't cooperate this is what is going to happen to you."

Iran War, Diplomacy on Parallel Tracks

By Jim Lobe.

If you're feeling increasingly confused about whether the administration of President George W. Bush is determined to go to war with Iran or whether it is instead truly committed to a diplomatic process with its European allies to reach some kind of modus vivendi, you're not alone.

On the one hand, a growing number of informed voices are arguing that the administration is simply going through the diplomatic motions in order to persuade domestic and international opinion that it had acted in good faith before it pulls the plug and launches attacks on Iran's suspected nuclear facilities and related targets some time before the end of Bush's term.

Among other evidence, including an account of the advanced state of war planning and actual preparations in this week's Time magazine, they point to a statement by Bush himself during an interview with a group of right-wing journalists last week as indicative of his real intentions.

"It's very important for the American people to see the president try to solve problems diplomatically before resorting to military force," Bush told the group in what neoconservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer characterized as an "unmistakable" signal that "an aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities lies just beyond the horizon of diplomacy."

On the other hand, a second group of analysts, also increasing in number, believes that the administration has effectively discarded the military option on Iran and has instead resigned itself to a protracted diplomatic process that will likely end in Washington's adoption of a "containment" strategy designed to curb Tehran's regional influence and delay as long as possible its acquisition of a nuclear-weapons capacity.

That was the conclusion of the Post's Glenn Kessler in an analysis published after Bush's speech to the UN General Assembly Tuesday.

"With the United States ensnared in an increasingly difficult campaign in Iraq, war is no longer a viable option," he wrote, noting the administration's apparent acquiescence in the passing of an end-of-August Security Council deadline for Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment operations.

Kessler was in part echoing David Ignatius, a longtime Middle East specialist at the Post, who, after a one-on-one interview with Bush last week, suggested not only that Bush is committed to a diplomatic solution, but may also be prepared to recognize Iran's regional security interests.

"[He] made clear that the administration wants a diplomatic solution to the confrontation over Iran's nuclear program one that is premised on an American recognition of Iran's role as an important nation in the Middle East," Ignatius wrote.

While it would appear difficult to reconcile these apparently opposing views of Bush's intentions, they can perhaps be best explained by the ongoing conflict within the administration between a familiar group of hawks led by Vice President Dick Cheney on the one hand, and a realist faction led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"Faced with internecine conflicts of this sort, President Bush has a striking tendency to avoid making a decision and to let the factions fight it out," according to Fred Kaplan, the national-security correspondent for Slate, the online magazine.

"It's possible, in other words, that the administration is playing both approaches mobilizing as a tool of diplomatic pressure and mobilizing as an act of impending warfare not as a coordinated strategy but as parallel actions, each of which will follow its inexorable course."

Indeed, some of the evidence marshaled by Ignatius and others in recent weeks in support of their view that Bush is committed to a diplomatic solution suggests that Bush has given Rice considerably more flexibility in dealing with Iran even if indirectly through the Europeans than he ever considered giving her predecessor, Colin Powell.

Thus, soon after taking office in early 2005, Rice offered official U.S. backing to European efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, something Powell had tried and failed to obtain. One year later, Bush gave her authority to offer direct talks with Iran if Tehran agreed to an indefinite suspension of its uranium-enrichment activities, an offer denounced as "appeasement" by neoconservative hawks close to Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.

More recently, Bush, on Rice's recommendation, personally authorized the issuance of a visa to former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami for a series of unprecedented public appearances around the United States earlier this month another action that drew howls of protest from the hawks. He also gave permission to a congressionally appointed task force on Iraq chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker to meet with a "high representative" of the Iranian government.

"I know that the more we can show the Iranian people the true intention of the American government," Bush told Ignatius last week, "the more likely it is that we will be able to reach a diplomatic solution to a difficult problem."

While these signals, as well as Washington's continued backing for European efforts to engage Iran despite the passage of last month's Security Council deadline, suggest that Bush is committed to diplomacy, however, the hawks have also been active.

According to Time, among other accounts, extensive planning and even preparations for war are well underway. The news weekly cited "Prepare to Deploy" orders that went to the Navy last week for warships, including minesweepers that would be needed to prevent a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, to be ready to move from their bases as of Oct. 1.

Ret. Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner, a well-connected analyst who has been extensively involved in government war-gaming on Iran, reported this week that war plans have moved from the Pentagon to the White House, suggesting that preparations for an attack on Iran are much more advanced than previously assumed.

Gardiner, who just completed a report, "Considering the U.S. Military Option for Iran," for the New York-based Century Foundation, also told CNN that the evidence that military operations confined mostly to intelligence gathering have been underway inside Iran for "at least 18 months is overwhelming."

At the same time, analysts who believe that the administration sees war as inevitable cite the creation by the Pentagon last spring first reported by the Los Angeles Times of a new office on Iran staffed by some of the same individuals who worked for the Office of Special Plans (OSP), a group of mainly political appointees that sent questionable and now discredited intelligence regarding Baghdad's alleged weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) programs and ties to al-Qaeda directly to Cheney's office and the White House in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

"It seems like Iran is becoming the new Iraq," one unnamed "U.S. counter-terrorism official" told the same reporters from the McClatchy Newspapers (formerly Knight-Ridder) who first uncovered OSP's operations last week in an article entitled "In a Replay of Iraq, a Battle Is Brewing Over Intelligence on Iran."

One difference between Iran now and the run-up to Iraq, however, is that the hawks lack the same eagerness for war that they showed for in 2002 and 2003. While they saw the invasion of Iraq as a no-lose proposition, they clearly recognize that the costs of attacking Iran will be, in Krauthammer's words, "terrible" yet slightly less than acquiescence to a nuclear-armed Tehran.

But, if Kaplan's thesis is indeed correct that the two administration factions are pursuing parallel, rather than coordinated tracks then the chances of a miscalculation by Tehran's leaders are likely to be enhanced.

They, after all, are likely to be at least as confused and divided by the maneuvering and speculation in Washington as the experts are becoming here.

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