As If On Cue, Ariel Sharon Wants Us To Take Out Iran For Him
After several weeks of disclosures wherein it is the opinion of the CIA and the president’s own intelligence commissions that we have no idea what really is going on inside Iran, and with the role that Israel played in providing questionable intelligence on Saddam’s WMD capabilities to push us along in taking out Saddam, Ariel Sharon is at it again:
Spreading photographs of Iranian nuclear sites over a lunch table at the Bush ranch in Texas on Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel urged President Bush to step up pressure on Iran to give up all elements of its nuclear program, according to senior American and Israeli officials.
American officials said the evidence Mr. Sharon presented, including aerial photographs of sites in Iran, was neither startling nor new to Mr. Bush. But they said the prime minister was clearly pressuring Mr. Bush not to allow the European negotiations with Iran to drag on.
"The Israelis consider the Iranians a big threat and they saw this as another opportunity to convey that to the president," an American official said. But among American experts familiar with the latest Israeli imagery, the official added, "no one thinks this was earth-shattering stuff."
Israeli officials declined to describe the evidence they presented, or say whether the photographs were from Israeli or American sources, commercial satellites, or from agents on the ground in Iran.
"This can't be delayed much longer," a senior Israeli official traveling in Mr. Sharon's party said Tuesday. "There is very little time until the point of no return is reached."
Where have we heard that before?
Already, the Bush Administration is laying the groundwork to discredit on-the-ground inspections by the IAEA in Iran, coming from the same administration that ignored what the IAEA said about Iraq that proved to be correct all along:
"If you think that they've been running a secret weapons program, which is what we believe and the Israelis believe, than what kind of inspection system could work?" a senior American diplomat said Tuesday.
See, very quickly the Administration has made that jump from “let’s work with the Europeans” from a couple of weeks ago, to “we and the Israelis know better than anyone else.”
It was just a couple of weeks ago that Condi told the Europeans that we would work with their effort to get the Iranians to the table. Suddenly, a day after the administration begins talking about the improving security situation in Iraq and the possibility that a significant number of troops could be rotated out of Iraq, we now hear that Sharon is hyping up the Iranian threat as something that needs immediate attention.
Yet while Sharon wants us to now take out Iran for him, we still have no clue what is going on in the region. The State Department and the White House were surprised to find out that Iran has completed pulling out almost all of its forces from assisting Hezbollah in Lebanon. (They are not alone: Daniel Byman, a supposed expert on Lebanon and Hezbollah, just penned a piece for the out-of-touch Foreign Affairs wherein he writes as if Iran still has hundreds of military advisors inside Lebanon when in fact they have less than 50.) Yet we would even consider taking military action again in the region after the Iraqi intelligence debacle when we can't get a handle on what is going on in Lebanon, let alone Iran?
And yes, the 2006 midterm elections are an event crying out for a Rovian diversion to stave off GOP losses next year. With Syria very shrewdly playing ball by withdrawing from Lebanon even quicker than the Administration had hoped, that target of opportunity is off the table for Bush. So here comes Sharon ready to go with a Plan B.