The latest speculation from Seymour Hersch that the Bush administration is again pondering an invasion of Iran has left the right wing happy that BushCo is going to "do something" about Iran and fuming that the info was leaked.
How smart would an invasion of Iran be? Not very according to a report in the Australian which counts the ways that this adventure would do damage to all concerned -- even the Bush administration:
First, any strike will prejudice the pivotal US strategic goals in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would expose 150,000 US forces in Iraq to Iranian retaliation. It would threaten progress in Iraq and vastly complicate US force withdrawal. It would trigger Iranian terrorist activity across the region and provoke Shi'ite militia group Hezbollah into strikes. It would represent a complete refusal to absorb the lesson from the 2003 invasion of Iraq: that resort to massive military action unleashes forces beyond the control of the US.
Second, the global economic consequences would be grave. Iranian retaliation would see the world oil price skyrocket from its present high level. Commander-in-chief of Iran's revolutionary guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has warned that Iran "will definitely act to impose controls on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz". This will take inflation and recession threats to new peaks in the industrialised world. The resentment towards Bush would be even greater.
Third, the Bush administration would implode politically. There is little grasp in Australia of the dramatic power shifts within the administration with Vice-President Dick Cheney's influence on the wane and the diplomatic option in the ascendancy under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defence Secretary Robert Gates. Witness the diplomatic deal over North Korea's nuclear facilities. Cheney's position on Iran is that there is only one thing worse than military action: Iran being allowed to gain nuclear weapons.
But in the absence of evidence or intelligence justifying a military strike the administration would fracture. High-level resignations would be likely. The intelligence community, blamed for the Iraq war, would not tolerate any distortions from its recent modest assessment of the Iranian threat. Senior US military leaders would be alarmed, with many believing the military option was an unjustified risk.
This highlights the reason for delay: Iran is still several years away from acquiring a nuclear capability. The ultimate decision point for military action will come but that point arrives under Bush's successor. At that stage the US must either accept a nuclear armed Iran or move to thwart it.