By Eric Margolis
"TORONTO -- The Bush-Cheney administration seems hell-bent on provoking war with Iran, and the U.S.-Iran confrontation is getting very dangerous. The heaviest concentration of U.S. naval strike forces since the 2003 war against Iraq is concentrating off Iran.
In a disturbing replay of that conflict, CIA drones and U.S. Air Force recon aircraft - along with U.S. and British Special Forces - are overflying Iran and probing its nuclear and military installations. The CIA and Britain's MI6 are stirring unrest among Iran's Kurds and Azerbaijanis, and arming Iranian Marxist and royalist exiles.
A belligerent U.S. President George Bush ordered U.S. forces in Iraq to "kill" Iranian agents or diplomats who appear threatening.
U.S. troops in northern Iraq broke into an Iranian liaison office and arrested its military staff. Bush unblushingly warns Iran, not to "meddle" in neighbouring Iraq.
Pentagon sources accused Iran of smuggling weapons and explosives to "Iraqi insurgents" - though the "insurgents" are, in fact, Shia militiamen allied to the U.S.-installed Baghdad regime. Half of the 21,000 additional U.S. troops headed to Iraq are being positioned to cover the Iranian border and block an Iranian threat to the main U.S. Kuwait-Baghdad supply line.
New contingents of U.S. Air Force personnel and warplanes are arriving at key forward air bases in Bulgaria and Romania that link the U.S. to the Mideast and Central Asia. U.S. bases in Britain, Germany, Diego Garcia, the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, and Pakistan are reported on heightened alert. Turkey is being pressed to allow U.S. and Israeli strike aircraft to use its air space to attack northern Iran.
The Pentagon's latest strike plan against Iran includes over 2,300 "high value" targets such as its dispersed nuclear infrastructure and, worryingly, operating reactors, air and naval bases, ports, telecommunications, air defences, military factories, energy networks, and government buildings. Iran's water and sewage systems, bridges, food storage, and bomb shelters could also be targeted, as Iraq's were in 2001......
Though UN inspectors find no evidence Iran is producing nuclear weapons, Tehran, like Saddam's Iraq, is being told to prove an impossible negative - that it has no nuclear weapons.
With disturbing deja vu, the U.S. Congress and media are swallowing the administration's torrent of unproven allegations against Iran precisely the way they lapped up its grotesque lies about Iraq.
Intelligence analysts would conclude either: Washington is trying to bluff Tehran to abandon its entirely legal but worrisome civilian nuclear power program and thus claim a major victory after so many defeats; or the cornered Bush-Cheney administration is trying to provoke an air and naval war against Iran as a last desperate, ideologically driven assault against the Muslim world, and divert attention from its Iraq debacle......
After his comments became public, Chirac retracted them when Washington's French-haters went apoplectic. But, as he did before Bush's 2003 war against Iraq, Chirac spoke with logic and good sense."