« Eric Black on Wetterling-Bachmann | Main | Bush and Bachmann-- and caption contest! »

Bachmann on Iran

Michele Bachmann's comments on Iran, quoted below, are part of Eric Black's recent piece on his "Big Question" blog.

The question was: “If diplomacy should fail to stop Iran’s nuclear program, what should we do??

Bachmann: “I think that at this point diplomacy is our option. And we certainly don’t want to move toward a nuclear response any time soon or without an abundance of caution.

Iran is at a point right now where America has to be very aggressive in our response. We can’t remove any option off the table. And we should not remove the nuclear response.

However, we must proceed with an abundance of caution. Because we know that Iran is very precarious. And I think we should take very seriously the threats coming out of Iran right now. But again, there are other nations including Venezuela that we need to keep our eyes on as well.?

Think Progress has a good round-up of quotes from those who believe a military response in Iran would be disastrous. Many in Washington have conceded that a military response, especially a nuclear response, is already off the table, at least among those thinking seriously and rationally about the U.S. military's capabilities and the ramifications of an attack. (One could debate whether that includes the Bush administration.)

Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, had this to say:

“I do not expect any kind of military solution on the Iran issue,? Hagel told a news conference. … “I think to further comment on it would be complete speculation, but I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option,? he added. … “Iran is a complicated issue. I think that a responsible approach to these challenges is to work closely with our friends and allies, in this case Pakistan, with the United Nations, with the IAEA,? he said. “I believe a political settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement. All these issues will require a political settlement,? Hagel said.

Hmm. Hagel is saying pretty much the same thing as Wetterling: friends and allies, political settlements, the UN. Wetterling didn't state her opinion on a military response

The U.S. government has conducted war games and simulations examining the effect that a military strike on Iran would have. Newsweek reports:

“‘The U.S. capability to make a mess of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is formidable,’ says veteran Mideast analyst Geoffrey Kemp. ‘The question is, what then?’ NEWSWEEK has learned that the CIA and DIA have war-gamed the likely consequences of a U.S. pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. No one liked the outcome. As an Air Force source tells it, ‘The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating.‘?

And a former Air Force Lt. Colonel had this to say:

Gardiner, a simulations expert at the U.S. Army’s National War College, after leading a “war game? on Iran: “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers. You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.?

22 former diplomats and military experts have signed the following letter to the Bush administration, urging a diplomatic settlement to the Iran issue.

Words not War, A Statement on Iran, August 2006

As former military leaders and foreign policy officials, we call on the Bush administration to engage immediately in direct talks with the government of Iran without preconditions to help resolve the current crisis in the Middle East and settle differences over the Iranian nuclear program.

We strongly caution against any consideration of the use of military force against Iran. The current crises must be resolved through diplomacy, not military action. An attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences for security in the region and U.S. forces in Iraq, and it would inflame hatred and violence in the Middle East and among Muslims elsewhere.

A strategy of diplomatic engagement with Iran will serve the interests of the U.S. and its allies, and would enhance regional and international security.

Is Michele Bachmann considering a strategy that has already been ruled out by responsible, knowledgable experts and policymakers?

There is conflicting evidence. Think Progress reported that a fellow at the AEI said Bush may take military action against Iran in the next 12-18 months. Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker has reported that the U.S. has been doing covert operations in Iran, scoping possible targets. In April of this year, he wrote:

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. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium. [...]

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.? Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ?

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb? if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,? and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.?

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.? He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ?

Bush dismissed this report. And in 2004, Bush ruled out military action against Iran, according to MSNBC.

Whether they are seriously planning it or not, it is clear that a military strike against Iran would have serious consequences and may not achieve the desired result of stopping its nuclear program. Patty Wetterling seems to recognize this. Does Michele Bachmann?

I'll quote her again.

We can’t remove any option off the table. And we should not remove the nuclear response.

Comments

The Hirsch "government consultant" sure sounds like Richard Armitage.

Like him or not, he did not mince words. He and Powell have been out of the highest level official loop recently, but Armitage probably consults, and there are lots of recently retired military besides Wes Clark who may also consult and have "close ties to civilian leadership."

My guess is Bush might try an October surprise to try to alter momentum this election cycle, where things currently stand against the GOP, per the war situation in Iraq [Mark Kennedy's problems being an example].

Other than that timing possibility, the worry is "what and when" are thoughts between the Bush ears, and he will be going to Crawford soon to clear brush - which may not clear his head.

What neocons are still left in the Pentagon, what are they publicly saying, and how strong are their voices?

Given how the Lebanese situation unfolded, any strike at Iran seems to have one clear implication.

Rocket attacks from Lebanon against Isreal proved the feasibility of comparable attack upon the little bit of Iraq US forces actually control.

The general Shiite control near enough to the Green Zone and to the US controlled air fields for such rocket activity is clear [the rockets are more like artillery than mortar attacks as to not needing nearness to launch and explosive strength, but unlike artillery there are not countertargets to find and eliminate - with the rockets being stowable in any home in Iraq - where some may already be cached in anticipation].

Such a play and counterplay would hasten US withdrawal from Iraq; but it would come with Iran still wanting to inflict comparable harms; so that terror attacks would happen and we would become more a police state than resulted via the Patriot Act and NSA activity.

And how "hard" are the Iranian targets?

Osama's caves in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan presented problems for the Russians. We probably are better at target identification than previously, with combined US and Mossad sigint and humint, but how hard are the targets?

Any other reader guesses about likely outcomes, given that we are not privy to the simulations and are more speculative in what we can foresee?

Her reply sounds like a Miss America response. How vapid can you get?