Monday :: Jul 3, 2006

The Significance Of Hersh's Story


by Steve

As I indicated in the Open Thread, Seymour Hersh has a major piece in this week’s New Yorker on Iran (“Last Stand”), and I’ll give you the thoughts of retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, who is not only quoted in the piece and who has conducted a war game simulation on a possible Iran invasion for the December 2004 Atlantic Monthly, but who also graciously answered several of my questions yesterday on this Hersh story. Note this morning that the West has given Iran a deadline of July 12th to respond to the latest offer, which the Hersh story notes, is likely to be a nonstarter especially when Russia and China are holding the cards in blocking any Security Council sanctions, and given that Bush is demanding the Iranians give up something for nothing even before the negotiations begin.

I asked Gardiner about some of Hersh's major points and the sources Hersh uses inside the Pentagon:

Sy's sources inside the Pentagon could not be better.

I suggested to Gardiner that it appears that Bush would opt for an air campaign supported by Special Forces, at Cheney’s urging.

He might move for the military option, but this article could very well change things. The senior leadership is now on the record with their opposition. It would be politically very dangerous for him to proceed now that this is out in the public.

Gardiner's assessments of the significance of this story:

This has to be seen as a watershed event. The military have challenged the White House. It was more subtle than MacArthur in Korea, but still it is a major challenge. They have been stage props for photo ops for too long; they are saying enough is enough.

I asked Gardiner to update his prediction of the odds of an attack before November, and what he thinks about those chances after the election:

About 4 in 10 before November.
As for after that, I have the sense of a Presidency that is coming apart. The White House has made the case that you can't challenge the President on National Security because of the supposed unusual circumstances of the time. In less than a week, that notion has been broken by the Supreme Court. Now the military have broken it.

And Gardiner then concluded with this:

I think he is going to have trouble doing anything.
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