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Posted by on Jul 16, 2007 in At TMV | 68 comments

Rice Losing Internal “War” With Cheney Over Iran Military Action

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is reportedly losing the internal Bush administration “war” with Vice President Dick Cheney over whether “diplomacy” or military action is the best way to deal with Iran.

If the report in The Guardian is correct, it’s yet one more sign of Cheney’s enormous influence and clout over Bush administration policy, even at a time when opinion polls show Bush, Cheney and the war in Iraq have dwindling political support amid increasing public impatience and even ire:

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.”

The Guardian
piece has a lot of info that will cheer those who firmly believe Iran can only be dealt with by a military action that short-circuits its growing threat, and will reaffirm the belief of those who believe Bush and Cheney believe they don’t have to take into account public, Congressional or even both political parties’ sentiments on further military action.

The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And reports do generally confirm that, although experts seem to vary on precisely when Iran would be ready to build an actual weapon.

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Note that Gates is considered more of a link to Bush 41 and the kind of diplomacy-driven foreign policy advocated by Colin Powell.

Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. “The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern,” the source said this week.

Nick Burns, the undersecretary of state responsible for Iran and a career diplomat who is one of the main advocates of negotiation, told the meeting it was likely that diplomatic manoeuvring would still be continuing in January 2009. That assessment went down badly with Mr Cheney and Mr Bush.

“Cheney has limited capital left, but if he wanted to use all his capital on this one issue, he could still have an impact,” said Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

And here is the paragraph that should be VERY interesting to Americans of both or no political parties:

The Washington source said Mr Bush and Mr Cheney did not trust any potential successors in the White House, Republican or Democratic, to deal with Iran decisively. They are also reluctant for Israel to carry out any strikes because the US would get the blame in the region anyway.

“The red line is not in Iran. The red line is in Israel. If Israel is adamant it will attack, the US will have to take decisive action,” Mr Cronin said. “The choices are: tell Israel no, let Israel do the job, or do the job yourself.

So, if it’s true, the President and Vice President believe they are the only ones who can safeguard America.

No Democrats could do it properly, not even any Republicans who might follow them.

So if they opt for military action as this piece suggests, it would be against the advice of Rice and the Secretary of Defense, most likely against the sentiment of the bulk of the Congress, and most likely against public opinion. But there will likely be an increased effort to make public opinion more receptive, so any military strike (no matter when it takes place) won’t come out of the blue.

What can Americans expect? If Iraq is any indicator, a build up of unnamed source articles about the Iranian threat, lots of news items that are also sourced naming the Iranian threat, an increasing drum beat by conservative talk show hosts about the need for military action in Iran as they are influenced by their interview or other contacts by administration sources and blogger conference calls to bloggers who considered friendly who could help get the pro-military-action perspective out.