Former White House Officials: Bush Trying to Provoke Iran


Richard Moore

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    Former Bush Officials Accuse White House of Trying to Provoke Iran

    By Deniz Yeter
    t r u t h o u t | Report
    Wednesday 21 February 2007

Warn public that Bush is looking for a pretext to justify a broader, regional 

Hillary Mann Leverett, the former National Security Council Director for Iranian
and Persian Gulf Affairs under the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004, until 
she left the administration, has issued a sober warning to the public concerning
Bush's intentions with Iran.

In an interview on CNN, on February 12, she accused the Bush administration of 
"trying to push a provocative, accidental conflict" from Iran as a pretext to 
justify "limited strikes" against the country's crucial nuclear and military 
infrastructures, as opposed to "an all-out invasion like what happened with 
Iraq." (1)

Her warning comes a day after sources revealed to Newsweek that "a second Navy 
carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf" and "that a third carrier 
will likely follow" to replace one of the strike carriers already in the Gulf. 
In retaliation, "Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last 
week in a highly publicized test." (2)

When asked what the Bush administration should do in its confrontation with 
Iran, Leverett suggested that "we should do what Nixon and Kissinger did with 
China in the early 1970s. We should respond positively, [and] constructively to 
Iranian overtures, to enter into comprehensive talks with Iran and to strike a 
grand bargain.

Leverett continued, "A grand bargain would mean we would have to make some 
concessions, and it would mean the Iranians would have to make some important 
concessions. But at the end of the day I think there is a path. The Iranians 
have put this on the table before."

Confronted with the question of why the Bush administration is seeking to lure 
Iran into attacking, Leverett responded vaguely that it is a part of Bush's 
broader agenda for the Middle East to bring about a "democratization ... peace 
and stability", to the region.

<    Leverett is joined by a growing consensus of current and former US 
government, intelligence and military Officials who accuse the administration of
trying to spark another unnecessary and unfounded war in the Middle East for 
their own self-interests.

In April 2006, Seymour Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker, detailed the Bush 
administration's covert actions inside Iran stating: "The Bush administration, 
while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a 
nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified
planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military 
and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up 
lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into 
Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with 
anti-government ethnic-minority groups." (3)

Retired US Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner also appeared in April 2006, on CNN in
defense of Seymour Hersh's claims, saying he thinks that "the decision has been 
made and military operations are under way." He also stated, "The Iranians have 
been saying American military troops are in there, [and] have been saying it for
almost a year."

"I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian 
ambassador to the IAEA. "And I said, "Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of 
being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution 
guard units.' He said, quite frankly, ŒYes, we know they are. We've captured 
some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans.'" (4)

Jim Webb, the freshman Senator from Virginia, whose Election Day victory in 2006
tipped the power in the Senate to the Democrats favor, appeared on "Hardball 
With Chris Matthews" on February 7, echoing the same warning given by Leverett. 
He said, "If you look at the framers of the Constitution, they wanted to give 
the president, as commander in chief, the authority to repel sudden attacks. 
That is totally different than conducting a preemptive war."

"And you know one thing," Webb continued, "if you look at where we are in the 
Persian Gulf right now, when I was secretary of the Navy and until very 
recently, we never operated aircraft carriers inside the Persian Gulf because, 
number one, the turning radius is pretty close, and number two, the chance of 
accidentally bumping into something that would start a diplomatic situation was 
pretty high. "We now have been doing that, and with the tensions as high as they
are, I'm very worried that we might accidentally set something off in there. And
we need, as a Congress, to get ahead of the ball game here."(5)

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who masterminded the failed Nojeh Coup in 1980 to 
topple the current Iranian government, came out on February 1 to testify before 
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasting the Bush administration's 
handling of the war. He called the "War on Terror" a "mythical historical 
narrative" used to justify a "protracted and potentially expanding war," and 
accused them [the Bush administration] of trying to spread the conflict in Iraq 
to other parts of the Middle East by "deepening [a] quagmire eventually ranging 
across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."

"A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure 
to meet the benchmarks, Brzezinski explained, "followed by accusations of 
Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a 
terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran. ... To argue that America is already 
at war in the region with a wider Islamic threat, of which Iran is the 
epicenter, is to promote a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Brzezinski also made note of the Bush administration's cronyism, saying, "I am 
perplexed by the fact that major strategic decisions seem to be made within a 
very narrow circle of individuals - just a few, probably a handful, perhaps not 
more than the fingers on my hand. "And these are the individuals, all of whom 
but one, who made the original decision to go to war, and used the original 
justifications to go to war," he noted. (6)

Texas House Republican Ron Paul also had harsh words for the Bush administration
and Congress, giving an alarming speech before the US House of Representatives 
on January 11. He accused them both of using "the talk of a troop surge and jobs
program in Iraq" to "distract Americans from the very real possibility of an 
attack on Iran."

Congressman Paul said, "Our growing naval presence in the region and our harsh 
rhetoric toward Iran are unsettling.... Securing the Horn of Africa and sending 
Ethiopian troops into Somalia do not bode well for world peace. Yet these 
developments are almost totally ignored by Congress.

"Rumors are flying about when, not if, Iran will be bombed by either Israel or 
the US," Paul added, "and possibly with nuclear weapons. Our CIA says Iran is 
ten years away from producing a nuclear bomb and has no delivery system, but 
this does not impede our plans to keep 'everything on the table' when dealing 
with Iran."

Paul continued, "We should remember that Iran, like Iraq, is a third-world 
nation without a significant military. Nothing in history hints that she is 
likely to invade a neighboring country, let alone do anything to America or 
Israel. I am concerned, however, that a contrived Gulf of Tonkin- type incident 
may occur to gain popular support for an attack on Iran.... Even if such an 
attack is carried out by Israel over U.S. objections, we will be politically and
morally culpable since we provided the weapons and dollars to make it possible. 
Mr. Speaker, let's hope I'm wrong about this one," Congressman Paul said. (7)


Deniz Yeter is a Turkish born citizen who was originally born in Berlin, 
Germany. Yeter moved to the United States, eventually settling down in Kansas, 
becoming a US citizen at the age of 14. He currently resides in Overland Park, 
Kansas, where he is a freelance writer and is also currently attending college 
at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he is majoring in Education to 
become a teacher. He can be reached at •••@••.•••


(1) CNN, "American Morning". Transcript: "Defense Department Offers Evidence 
High-Level Iranian Leader Is Supplying Arms to Shiite Insurgents in Iraq", 
February 12, 2007.

(2) Hirsh, Michael and Bahari, Maziar. "Blowup? America's Hidden War With Iran".
Newsweek. February 11, 2007.

(3) Hersh, Seymour. "The Iran Plans". The New Yorker. April 4, 2006.

(4) CNN, "Your World Today". Transcript: "Top Iranian Government Officials Speak
Out Against the West; Sectarian Attacks Drive Iraqis From Their Homes; Calls for
Rumsfeld's Resignation". April 14, 2006.

(5) MSNBC, "Hardball With Chris Matthews". Transcript. February 7, 2007.

(6) Brzezinski, Zbigniew. United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 
"Senate Foreign Relations Committee Testimony". Washington, DC. February 1, 

(7) Paul, Ron. "Escalation Is Hardly the Answer". US House of Representatives. 
January 11, 2007.

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