Who’s Behind the Coming War With Iran?

Writing in The American Conservative‘s Aug. 1 issue, former military intelligence and CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi, now a partner in Cannistraro Associates, says that the vice president (who, according to the U.S. Constitution, has no authority but to break a tie vote in the U.S. Senate up to and until the day the president keels over or is removed from office) has instructed the Air Force to begin preparing plans for a full-scale air war against Iran’s “suspected” nuclear weapons sites using the excuse of the next terrorist attack. Giraldi’s piece is short enough to cite here in its entirety:

“In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.”

Wow, I guess the neocons took it pretty hard when they found out that Chalabi had played them with all his pro-Israel promises, and had in fact been working for Iran all along. It turns out the mullahs wanted Saddam gone as bad as Bush, Sharon, or bin Laden.

I wanted to know more, and since the reaction of the mass media was deafening silence, I decided to interview Giraldi myself [stream] [download mp3]. (Since then, one reporter asked White House spokesman Scott McClellan about it. He had no comment. There was no follow-up.)

As transcribed by Justin Raimondo earlier in the week, Giraldi confirmed to me that former(?) fascist secret warrior and neoconservative writer Michael Ledeen and his CIA buddies were the origin of the forged Niger uranium documents used by the administration to fool Americans into supporting the invasion of Iraq. In answer to my question, “Who forged the Niger documents?” Giraldi said, “[A] couple of former CIA officers who are familiar with that part of the world who are associated with a certain well-known neoconservative who has close connections with Italy.”

I said that must be Ledeen, member of the Italian fascist P-2 lodge (I said P-3 in the interview, d’oh!).

Giraldi said, “Mm, hmm.”

He added that the still unnamed ex-CIA men “also had some equity interests, shall we say, with the operation. … A lot of these people are in consulting positions, and they get various, shall we say, emoluments in overseas accounts, and that kind of thing.”

It will be interesting to see how long Ledeen and his co-conspirators in and out of the executive branch spend locked in prison. Or is it a crime to fabricate lies to justify a premeditated campaign of mass murder?

In any case, Philip Giraldi seems quite concerned that Cheney and the neocons are pushing for the design of war plans for their next target, Iran, using the excuse of another terrorist attack. These, of course, were the same men who used 9/11 as their excuse to attack Iraq. Giraldi noted the implausibility of Iran working with al-Qaeda, as they have a clear antipathy toward each other. Iran is run by conservative Shi’ite mullahs, while bin Laden and his followers are radical Salafist Sunnis. Further, why would Iran strike at the U.S. with terrorism when they have been doing everything possible to avoid a war that would devastate their country? Yet the U.S. government is following the same script as with Iraq: this Axis of Evil member has ties to terrorism and a nuclear weapons program, the UN won’t act, so we have to at least bomb the hell out of them from the air, if not invade and give them democracy.

Also, once again, there is a convergence of interests between those who plan long-term energy strategy and those whose primary objective is protecting Israel. Unfortunately, the Likud First wings of the Republican party think it’s the burden of Americans to confront Iran over their funding of Hezbollah, even though Hezbollah has never attacked America. Giraldi notes that the neoconservatives have made no secret of the fact that Iran is next on the hit list, and that they want a full-scale clash of civilizations. An unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran by the U.S., or by Israel itself, as Dick Cheney suggested on Inauguration Day, is a sure way to guarantee one.

Let us not forget how cooperative the Israelis were in creating excuses for invading Iraq. Julian Borger, writing in the Guardian, has said that Ariel Sharon had the same problem with Mossad that Dick Cheney had with the CIA: they’d lie a little but not enough. To solve this problem, he created an Office of Special Plans in Israel to help the boys in our Pentagon’s “Gestapo office” get the job done right. In the interview with CIA retiree Giraldi, he offered that this story had been relayed to him separately from the Borger piece, presumably from someone who knew it firsthand. Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski‘s escorting of Israeli generals to Douglas Feith’s office at the Pentagon would seem to further corroborate this claim. An Iran specialist from Feith’s office by the name of Larry Franklin has been indicted [.pdf] for passing secret Iran-policy papers to Israel. Two of his co-conspirators, Steve Rosen and Keith Weismann at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee have now also been indicted [.pdf] and may join him in prison.

But back to Iran. Giraldi confirmed information I had heard about Air Force Intelligence currently in Qatar picking targets. He added that the special forces were also already in Iran hunting for “suspected sites.”

Former Marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter wrote an article last April saying that Air Force officers had told him that they were working on plans for war against Iran that were to be ready by June of this year. When I asked Giraldi about this he said these were different “tactical” plans as opposed to the ones being drawn up by the Strategic Air Command that were leaked to him. Ritter has also written that the plans he was briefed on have already been put into motion, that the invasion will come from U.S. bases in Azerbaijan, that the U.S. is already flying drones in Iranian airspace, and that the Marxist terrorist cult, Mujahedin e-Khalq, is committing terror bombings against civilians in Iran on U.S. orders. He writes

“Americans, and indeed much of the rest of the world, continue to be lulled into a false sense of complacency by the fact that overt conventional military operations have not yet commenced between the United States and Iran.

“As such, many hold out the false hope that an extension of the current insanity in Iraq can be postponed or prevented in the case of Iran. But this is a fool’s dream.”

Do they get al-Jazeera in Persia? It’s hard to believe they elected the hardliner.

We face the very real possibility that individuals in charge of the government actually intend to launch a major air war on “hundreds of possible sites” inside Iran, even, according to Giraldi, to use tactical nuclear weapons. A land invasion is – or at least ought to be – out of the question. Iran is four times the size and has three times the population of Iraq, where U.S. forces have had plenty of trouble despite the majority Shia, for the most part, not even fighting. Demographics suggest Iran’s population is heavy on fighting-age males. Most of the country is mountainous. To invade from Iraq can’t be done, as the Shia would finally be unleashed against U.S. forces, who would then have to fight from both front and rear. A general Shia uprising in Iraq would be a likely result of bombing Iran, with or without ground troops. Land invasion would definitely require the mass enslavement known as conscription, and the soccer moms won’t like that – fighting is for poor people.

The aforementioned felon Michael Ledeen and his neoconservative friends have a theory that if the U.S. bombs untold thousands of Iranians to death, the rest, seeing their government’s weakness, will rise up, regime-change the government and install an America-friendly, nuclear-free puppet dictator in their place.

Reasonable people, at this point in the article, must be thinking this is crazy. And it is. There are many reasons why invading Iran is unwise. For starters, Iran has never attacked America. That ought to be the end of it, but let’s go ahead and add that “experts” have come out and said what Antiwar.com‘s Gordon Prather has been saying all along: Iran is 10 years away from being able to make their own nuclear weapons – if they were to begin trying, which they haven’t. The only exception to this is the possibility that they have obtained all the necessary ingredients, already prepared, from the black market. If they scored plutonium, Prather tells me, this would necessitate the construction of much more complicated weapons than a “gun”-type uranium fission bomb. The state may say it’s so, but for some reason, I don’t believe them. In any case, Iran still wouldn’t be able to deliver a nuke to North America. According to Giraldi (and to those who still use common sense), the only incentive Iran has to make nukes is its own defense from aggressors – namely, us.

Innocent people would be killed – many of them. The Iraqi Shia majority, who have been relatively cooperative with our unprovoked invasion and occupation of that country, would undoubtedly turn on the U.S. soldiers there. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari recently went to Iran to lay a wreath at the grave of his hero, the Ayatollah Khomeini, who protected the SCIRI and the Da’wa Party from Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war. (This failure on the part of the U.S., having basically handed Iraq over to Iran, may be another reason for the hawks to push for war. Maybe they could break them back up before anyone at CNN notices?)

Think of Iran as a fancy Western word for Persia, its coastline comprising one side of the Persian Gulf. Access to Saudi oil and the Arabian Sea could be easily halted, which would destroy the world economy, and quickly.

If the U.S. were to bomb the Bushehr reactor, not only would radioactive particles blast into the air to fall back down to earth and coat the local environment (think dirty bomb), but numerous Russians would also undoubtedly be killed. How might the U.S. react if the Russians were to bomb a reactor full of Americans in, say, India?

According to Newsweek‘s article from last September, “War Gaming the Mullahs”:

Newsweek has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, ‘The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating.'”

Is it realistic to think, as Giraldi said, that neoconservatives really believe their own lies about Western values being embraced throughout the Middle East by our invasion of Iraq? Paul Craig Roberts has suggested that spreading further destruction is their means if not their end. As Justin Raimondo and Juan Cole have pointed out, we have – conveniently enough for Likudniks – set up the makings of a perfect storm between the Shia in Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and the Sunnis in Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

The Israelis seem to be doing their part. As Seymour Hersh reported in a June 2004 New Yorker article entitled “Plan B: As June 30th Approaches, Israel Looks to the Kurds,” for which Giraldi was a source, the Israelis, apparently having decided the Iraq war was a total debacle only a month or so after Bush announced “mission accomplished,” immediately moved to send in intelligence agents to start buying up Kurds. Giraldi told me he’s heard reports that up to 800 Israeli agents are combing Iraq. The story is that our soldiers train together. (Remember the story about Israelis at Abu Ghraib?) According to Giraldi, however, their true purpose is to sow instability and pressure for Kurdish autonomy. This is another looming fault line in the brewing intra-Muslim conflict.

It seems that a lot of what we are learning about this war is coming from those CIA retirees who fled during the neocons’ great purge of ’04. Although I’m not typically a CIA fan, my favorite kind of government employee, as I’ve written before, is the kind who rats on current or former bosses. The steady flow of quality information to us regular folks from insider enemies of the former Trotskyite set in the Department of Defense and the vice president’s office has been incredibly damaging to the administration and their policy. The CIA refugees can’t stand to see their former covert operations roles taken over by soldiers, and they are having their revenge. Should it continue, the pressure might just be able to stop these crazies from expanding the conflict.

We must be careful not to give Bush and his team any more reason for war. Even bashing them could backfire on us. If it is generally agreed this early in the second term that George W. Bush is the worst president since Richard Nixon, or even since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and that he is destined to sit as a lame-duck loser for the next three and a half years, then he may see only one chance left to save his legacy: nuking Iran.

To the reporters who spend desperate, sleepless nights wondering how they could have been such suckers, so miserably and with such undying credulity failing to uncover the lies that led to the last bloody war: an opportunity for redemption now awaits.

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2021 book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and the editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,500 interviews since 2003. Scott’s articles have appeared at Antiwar.com, The American Conservative magazine, the History News Network, The Future of Freedom, The National Interest and the Christian Science Monitor. He also contributed a chapter to the 2019 book, The Impact of War. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, investigative reporter Larisa Alexandrovna Horton. He is a fan of, but no relation to the lawyer from Harper’s. Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.