Clusterfuck-alypse now! Hersh: Lebanon War "A Demo for Iran"
The United States and Israel have shared intelligence and enjoyed close military coÃ¶peration for decades, but early this spring, according to a former senior intelligence official, high-level planners from the U.S. Air Forceâ€”under pressure from the White House to develop a war plan for a decisive strike against Iranâ€™s nuclear facilitiesâ€”began consulting with their counterparts in the Israeli Air Force.
â€œThe big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets in Iran successfully,â€ the former senior intelligence official said. â€œWho is the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? Itâ€™s not Congoâ€”itâ€™s Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, â€˜Letâ€™s concentrate on the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.â€™ â€ The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he said.
â€œThe Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,â€ a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. â€œWhy oppose it? Weâ€™ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.â€
A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House â€œhas been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preÃ«mptive blow against Hezbollah.â€ He added, â€œIt was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.â€
Sounds like phase two of Clusterfuck-alypse now, doesn't it?
Especially since Bush gave the green light to Israel before the kidnappings that supposedly set this war off:
Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah kidnappings, the U.S. government consultant said, several Israeli officials visited Washington, separately, â€œto get a green light for the bombing operation and to find out how much the United States would bear.â€ The consultant added, â€œIsrael began with Cheney. It wanted to be sure that it had his support and the support of his office and the Middle East desk of the National Security Council.â€ After that, â€œpersuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on board,â€ the consultant said.
Naturally, the facts and the intelligence are being fixed around the policy:
The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. â€œThe big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the topâ€”at the insistence of the White Houseâ€”and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.â€™s strictures, and if you complain about it youâ€™re out,â€ he said. â€œCheney had a strong hand in this.â€
And equally naturally, because, being delusional, these guys are always wrong about everything, it all fucked up:
The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab coalitionâ€”including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egyptâ€”that would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite mullahs in Iran. â€œBut the thought behind that plan was that Israel would defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it,â€ the consultant with close ties to Israel said.
And having fucked it up, they're going to doubledown and, being delusional, fuck up worse:
some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. â€œThere is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,â€ he said. â€œWhen the smoke clears, theyâ€™ll say it was a success, and theyâ€™ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.â€
But with what Army? The one that they broke in Iraq?
A high-level American military planner told me, â€œThere is this almost comical thinking that you can do it all from the air, even when youâ€™re up against an irregular enemy with a dug-in capability. Youâ€™re not going to be successful unless you have a ground presence, but the political leadership never considers the worst case. These guys only want to hear the best case.â€
So, being delusional, being infected with hubris, they can't see we're faced with strategic overstretch, which even Rummy can see. (We offered logistics support to the proposed multinational force on the Israeli-Lebanon border; s sure sign there's nothing more forceful available; everything is tied up in Iraq.)
Some current and former intelligence officials who were interviewed for this article believe that Rumsfeld disagrees with Bush and Cheney about the American role in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said that â€œthere was a feeling that Rumsfeld was jaded in his approach to the Israeli war.â€ He added, â€œAir power and the use of a few Special Forces had worked in Afghanistan, and he tried to do it again in Iraq. It was the same idea, but it didnâ€™t work. He thought that Hezbollah was too dug in and the Israeli attack plan would not work, and the last thing he wanted was another war on his shift that would put the American forces in Iraq in greater jeopardy.â€
A Western diplomat said that he understood that Rumsfeld did not know all the intricacies of the war plan. â€œHe is angry and worried about his troopsâ€ in Iraq, the diplomat said. Rumsfeld served in the White House during the last year of the war in Vietnam, from which American troops withdrew in 1975, â€œand he did not want to see something like this having an impact in Iraq.â€ Rumsfeldâ€™s concern, the diplomat added, was that an expansion of the war into Iran could put the American troops in Iraq at greater risk of attacks by pro-Iranian Shiite militias.
And the funny thing is, that Bush, Cheney, and the Israelis all have the same mental block on fighting Hezbollah that they have on fighting Al Qaeda:
Even those who continue to support Israelâ€™s war against Hezbollah agree that it is failing to achieve one of its main goalsâ€”to rally the Lebanese against Hezbollah. â€œStrategic bombing has been a failed military concept for ninety years, and yet air forces all over the world keep on doing it,â€ John Arquilla, a defense analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me. Arquilla has been campaigning for more than a decade, with growing success, to change the way America fights terrorism. â€œThe warfare of today is not mass on mass,â€ he said. â€œYou have to hunt like a network to defeat a network. Israel focussed on bombing against Hezbollah, and, when that did not work, it became more aggressive on the ground. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.â€
But hey! Good news! Everything's going to get resolved by the end of the month:
The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat added, â€œwhen the Iraniansâ€â€”under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium enrichmentâ€”â€œwill say no.â€
Just in time to roll out the new product for the mid-terms; just like Iraq in 2002.
What was that quote about insanity, again?