“It is Iraq-redux”, commented Philip Giraldi of the slow but constant build-up of US naval forces off the coast of Iran. Currently, there is one aircraft carrier and its entourage of a cruiser, two destroyers and a submarine, and this is due to double in about 10 days time with the USS Stennis making its way to the Gulf. The comment was sparked by the news that the US is in an advanced stage of preparation to execute an air-strike over Iran, possibly as early as next Spring, although in all probability it will occur next year, just before Bush’s presidency expires and he is no longer in a position to control the situation.
Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has strongly denied claims that an offensive is ever going to take place. However, there is no denying the increased flow of Patriot missiles towards the fleet currently stationed in the Gulf, nor the stock-piling of oil reserves in America. The President has defended these actions as necessary for counter-attack, should Iran strike first. “If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people, we will respond firmly”, he said. Colonel Sam Gardner, a former Air Force officer, commented, “Gates said there is no planning for war. We know this is not true. He possibly meant there is no plan for an immediate strike. All the moves being made are consistent with what you would do if you were going to do an air strike.”
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, since winning the presidential election in 2005, has denied the Holocaust, refused to accept the Israeli state as legitimate and stated that he wanted to wipe it off the map. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (the President’s religious, and possibly more powerful, counterpart) has vowed to retaliate against the US, should it impinge on the country’s interests. Thus, it is fairly safe to assume that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat. However, analysts and technicians say that it is still a few years away from the actual production of a launchable nuclear warhead. Negotiation and sanctions could suffice to deter Iran from producing weapons of mass destruction and with China, Russia, America and Europe all agreed on stopping the country’s nuclear projects, international pressure and diplomacy may just do the trick.
The Economist this week commented on Bush’s failure to reach the goals he set himself during his first term in office, and considering how eager the Bush administration has been to blame Iran’s influence for the difficulty in meeting these goals, a strike on the country would seem an attempt at redeeming his presidency.
According to other analysts, the US is amassing forces to protect Israel, which is more likely to strike Iran, given its more direct conflict with it, both via the comments of its rulers and through Hezbollah, the Shia army of Lebanon, effectively a proxy of Iran and directly funded by it.