The White House on Tuesday flatly denied an [Israeli] Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term. It said that while the military option had not been taken off the table, the Administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran’s push for a nuclear weapon “through peaceful diplomatic means.”
Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who concluded a trip to Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for. — Jerusalem Post
The report went on to say that the success of Hezbollah in tightening its grip on Lebanon was “evidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s growing influence”.
I tend to believe the original report. A nuclear Iran really is a threat to American interests. The cornerstone of US Mideast policy is Saudi Arabia, which is also the center of Sunni Islam. Iran is challenging the Saudis both in a geopolitical and religious sense, extending its sphere of influence to include Syria and Lebanon, and has the US tied down in Iraq. All this has been accomplished without nuclear weapons; imagine how much worse the situation would be if Iran had a nuclear deterrent and threat.
It is obvious that diplomacy has been ineffective in stopping or even slowing Iran’s progress, primarily because of Iran’s influence on its oil purchasers. However, just because a nation cannot afford to join a diplomatic offensive does not mean that it would not quietly applaud a unilateral US military action, which could be blamed on the supposedly regressive George Bush and Dick Cheney.
There are powerful forces among American policymakers who would oppose military action. But I don’t think they are as strong as the Saudi-aligned faction. So, although I’ve said in the past that US military action against Iran is unlikely, I am not so sure any longer.
If it should come to pass, Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel will likely be cited as one of the reasons. But don’t kid yourself — if the US really cared about Israel’s security, we wouldn’t be arming Fatah. The real drive for an American attack on Iran is coming from Riyadh.