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The limited modified Iran route?

October 3, 2006

I’m glad only a handful of people read this blog; and in particular, glad that Karl Rove isn’t one of them. Because I’d hate to give him ideas.

Aircraft carriers have been told to be ready to head out for an unspecified location this week. We don’t have to be told that the location is the Persian Gulf, at which they could then arrive on October 21. Bush may or may not have decided to launch the air war on Iran as his October Surprise. But clearly, he has sent out the word that he wants the option ready.

He is miscalculating. This country is desperately weary of war. It has not been rendered sufficiently terrified of Tehran. There are too many competing stories on the newslines, and now the Foley story is burning up critical air time just when the boogeyman buildup was supposed to go into fifth gear. This time, they should have begun marketing their new product in August, or even in June.

The rules have changed. The “bounce” from the next war will turn into a negative in less than two weeks. Unless.

If I were Rove, and I trust he’s not that smart, I’d have Bush designate two or three nuclear related Iranian targets, not ones near urban centers. The October surprise would be a lightning attack on those targets alone. Not enough to seriously affect Tehran’s nuclear program, but that wouldn’t be the point. One set of sorties, then Bush says, “This is to show Iran that we’re serious. This seems to be the only language they’ll understand. I hope now they’ll come to the negotiating table. The United States of America is open for direct talks.”

With such a move, he could present himself to his base as the War President redivivus; and to Iraq-weary independents as the earnest man of peace, wholly focused on diplomacy. The press would love him to death again.

Then on November 8, having gulled us all one last time, he could send in the nonstop bomber armadas.

The one drawback to this plan? When the Pentagon wargamed Iran last year, they found that Tehran blinded our electronic surveillance by switching to motorcycle couriers, and our entire carrier fleet was taken out in the first wave. A limited strike might be a military impossibility. All of Persia’s defenses would have to be decapitated first, a tall order in itself. We might find the mullahs putting us in as ignominious a position as Hezbollah put Israel when she attacked southern Lebanon.

Never underestimate Chancellor Bush’s capacity to highlight American military impotence before the world.

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