According to an article in Der Spiegel, the U.S. government may be planning to conduct military strikes on Iranian nuclear sites sometime early 2006. Based on the article, the Turkish government and America's other NATO allies have been told that such an attack may take place. Apparently, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed in recent weeks of Washington's military plans. The countries, apparently, were told that air strikes were a "possible option," but they were given no specific timeframe for the operations.
Whether or not these rumors prove to be true, what seems to emerge from the nature of discussions, particularly after the recent vile remarks by Mr. Ahmadinejad with regards to Israel and the Holocaust, is that Washington is coming more and more to the conclusion that a soft diplomatic track may not be an option with the new government in Iran. The leaking of such reports to the media may be part of a strategy to show Iran that the U.S. is serious, and that the Russian proposal or some sort of guarantee acceptable to the U.S. indicating that Iran will not be pursuing a weapons program has to be taken seriously. The U.S. might be indicating that this is indeed Iran's last chance, and that they will not allow the Iranian government to buy time.
From a strategic perspective a military attack on Iran's nuclear site may not prove to be effective in deterring Iran's nuclear ambitions and most analysts believe that this might at best strengthen the hand of Mr. Ahmadinejad's hardliners in Iran in the long-term, and at worst create extensive regional instability. Of course there is also the impact on oil prices and the domestic political fallout for Mr. Bush.
But the question is, does the Bush administration think that it would have to pay even a higher price if Iran does get to nuclear weapons capability? Given that all the options the Bush administration has with regards to Iran will result in some sort of loss for the U.S, what do they see as a policy that minimizes the loss over a longer period of time? Or does the U.S. even have an Iran policy? Will one emerge with events unfolding or has one been in the process for sometime now? I do not have the answers to these questions, but believe they will determine the U.S. response to the current crisis.
What is clear to me is that in the current grand game the Iranian people will suffer the most, as they have in the past. They are a disposable commodity, both in the eyes of their own regime and the eyes of the United States and their allies. When we cannot shape our own destiny as a people, others will shape it for us. Apathy is a choice. A choice with deadly consequences.