A bluff? Or are we prepping an Iran strike? (Updated)

Rick Moran
Is President Obama preparing for a massive strike on the Iranian nuclear program?

The Times of India is reporting that a British company has contracted with the US Navy to deliver 300 "bunker busting" bombs to the British base in Diego Garcia - a staging area for strikes against Iraq in 1991 and 2003.

Along with other signs of increased activity, one analyst who has been tracking US preparations believes that at the very least, President Obama will have the option of striking Iran:

Contract details for the shipment were posted on an international tenders' website by the US navy. "They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran," Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, said.

"US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours," Plesch, who is the co-author of a recent study on the US preparations for an attack on Iran, stressed.

The final decision on whether to launch an attack would be in the hands of US president Barack Obama. He may decide that it would be better for the US to act instead of Israel, Plesch argued.

"The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely,"Plesch said, adding, "The US is using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran's actions."

Diego Garcia is a British territory about 1,000 miles south of India and Sri Lanka but is used as a US military base as part of an agreement reached in 1971.

No comment from the Pentagon with regards to these moves.

These moves make sense for two reasons; first, it is better for the US to hit Iran than Israel. This has been plain for years since the possibility of precipitating a wider war if Israel were to act has always been the biggest worry for US defense and foreign policy planners. With a US unilateral strike, it is much less likely that Iran would strike Israel and Syria join in. We are also in a better position to defend our assets in the region than Israel is in defending its territory against the increasingly sophisticated missile arsenal in Iran.

Secondly, while there would no doubt be resistance from China and Russia, there has been a definite hardening of opinion among our European allies against Iran. Getting everything ready for a strike gives the president the option of going to war if it appears Iran is on the cusp of getting the bomb or, more probable, demonstrating the ability to quickly construct one.

Would he do it? Presidents in political trouble are not above waving the big stick if it would rally the country to them. Despite his pacifist inclinations, don't put it past Obama to bomb Iran if the combination of low approval ratings and declining re-election numbers were to happen. He's already demonstrated an ability to thumb his nose at his liberal base. And besides, a GOP opponent who ran in 2012 accusing the president of "allowing" Iran to get the bomb would be making a potent argument.

Any action would be a "last resort" scenario and Iran is not done trying to stall the west into forgoing sanctions against it while it tries to build the capability to construct a bomb. The dance at the UN has yet to play itself completely out, but when it does, it will be decision time for the president and the west.


UPDATE

Emanuele Ottolenghi of Commentary did a little digging and discovered that the basis for this article is almost certainly false:

I've done a little more digging about the three sources quoted in the Scottish Herald article. Of Dr. Daniel Plesch of the University of London and his recurrent predictions of an imminent American attack on Iran, I have already written extensively here. The other two sources also deserve some scrutiny. Ian Davis heads a think tank called NATO WATCH. He also has his own "consultancy," which seems to amount to a webpage with his own writings. His think tank does not seem to be too crowded with experts - Ian Davis appears to be the only guy, though there is a long list of associates and a history of cooperation with outfits that curiously stand for nuclear disarmament.

NATO WATCH's address is also more than a little odd - Strath 17, by the Gairloch Loch, in the Scottish Highlands. Pretty place it must be, but you'd think that a think tank dedicated to being the watchdog of NATO might be closer to the alliance's headquarters, no? Then again, the website says that NATO WATCH is a virtual think tank, so who am I to find it a bit more than suspicious that, to produce an unsubstantiated accusation that America is about to go to war against Iran, a Scottish paper turns to NATO WATCH for reasons other than it happens to be in the neighborhood. Funny also is the fact that two of the quoted experts/sources are also in Scotland (aside from Ian Davis, there is the CND local guy, Ales MacKinnon). And all three of them happen to have campaigned for or written in favor of nuclear disarmament, are on the record as hostile to American policies in the Middle East, and in the past expressed some degree of support for Iran's claims.

Not the first time I've been taken in. Won't be the last.




Is President Obama preparing for a massive strike on the Iranian nuclear program?

The Times of India is reporting that a British company has contracted with the US Navy to deliver 300 "bunker busting" bombs to the British base in Diego Garcia - a staging area for strikes against Iraq in 1991 and 2003.

Along with other signs of increased activity, one analyst who has been tracking US preparations believes that at the very least, President Obama will have the option of striking Iran:

Contract details for the shipment were posted on an international tenders' website by the US navy. "They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran," Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, said.

"US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours," Plesch, who is the co-author of a recent study on the US preparations for an attack on Iran, stressed.

The final decision on whether to launch an attack would be in the hands of US president Barack Obama. He may decide that it would be better for the US to act instead of Israel, Plesch argued.

"The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely,"Plesch said, adding, "The US is using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran's actions."

Diego Garcia is a British territory about 1,000 miles south of India and Sri Lanka but is used as a US military base as part of an agreement reached in 1971.

No comment from the Pentagon with regards to these moves.

These moves make sense for two reasons; first, it is better for the US to hit Iran than Israel. This has been plain for years since the possibility of precipitating a wider war if Israel were to act has always been the biggest worry for US defense and foreign policy planners. With a US unilateral strike, it is much less likely that Iran would strike Israel and Syria join in. We are also in a better position to defend our assets in the region than Israel is in defending its territory against the increasingly sophisticated missile arsenal in Iran.

Secondly, while there would no doubt be resistance from China and Russia, there has been a definite hardening of opinion among our European allies against Iran. Getting everything ready for a strike gives the president the option of going to war if it appears Iran is on the cusp of getting the bomb or, more probable, demonstrating the ability to quickly construct one.

Would he do it? Presidents in political trouble are not above waving the big stick if it would rally the country to them. Despite his pacifist inclinations, don't put it past Obama to bomb Iran if the combination of low approval ratings and declining re-election numbers were to happen. He's already demonstrated an ability to thumb his nose at his liberal base. And besides, a GOP opponent who ran in 2012 accusing the president of "allowing" Iran to get the bomb would be making a potent argument.

Any action would be a "last resort" scenario and Iran is not done trying to stall the west into forgoing sanctions against it while it tries to build the capability to construct a bomb. The dance at the UN has yet to play itself completely out, but when it does, it will be decision time for the president and the west.


UPDATE

Emanuele Ottolenghi of Commentary did a little digging and discovered that the basis for this article is almost certainly false:

I've done a little more digging about the three sources quoted in the Scottish Herald article. Of Dr. Daniel Plesch of the University of London and his recurrent predictions of an imminent American attack on Iran, I have already written extensively here. The other two sources also deserve some scrutiny. Ian Davis heads a think tank called NATO WATCH. He also has his own "consultancy," which seems to amount to a webpage with his own writings. His think tank does not seem to be too crowded with experts - Ian Davis appears to be the only guy, though there is a long list of associates and a history of cooperation with outfits that curiously stand for nuclear disarmament.

NATO WATCH's address is also more than a little odd - Strath 17, by the Gairloch Loch, in the Scottish Highlands. Pretty place it must be, but you'd think that a think tank dedicated to being the watchdog of NATO might be closer to the alliance's headquarters, no? Then again, the website says that NATO WATCH is a virtual think tank, so who am I to find it a bit more than suspicious that, to produce an unsubstantiated accusation that America is about to go to war against Iran, a Scottish paper turns to NATO WATCH for reasons other than it happens to be in the neighborhood. Funny also is the fact that two of the quoted experts/sources are also in Scotland (aside from Ian Davis, there is the CND local guy, Ales MacKinnon). And all three of them happen to have campaigned for or written in favor of nuclear disarmament, are on the record as hostile to American policies in the Middle East, and in the past expressed some degree of support for Iran's claims.

Not the first time I've been taken in. Won't be the last.