By Brigitte L. Nacos
It seems like a replay of 2002: When it was undeniable that the military actions in Afghanistan had not achieved the objective of getting Osama bin Laden “Dead or Alive,” President Bush and other high administration official turned their attention to Saddam Hussein as the number one evil doer and target in the “war on terrorism.” Except for the vice-president’s tale of America’s successes in Iraq, it is clear for a while that the U.S. has little control over “an increasingly perilous situation” in Iraq according to the Washington Post's description of a National Intelligence Estimate, Senator McCain, still a stance supporter of the war, described the situation today as “dire and deteriorating.” Therefore, President Bush and other administration officials speak rather about their new number one enemy and problem—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his country’s anti-American activities in Iraq and its nuclear program at home. By moving a second aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon has fueled concerns about an American-Iranian confrontation. It was nevertheless quite shocking, when former Congressman Joe Scarborough ended his conversation with Pat Buchanan and Mort Zuckerman on CNBC’s “Scarborough Country” last night with the cheerful remark, “And for the latest on the coming war with Iran, check out our Web site, joe.mscnc.com."
The coming war with Iran? Secretary of Defense Robert Gates denied any such plans, when he told reporters today, “The President has made clear, the Secretary of State has made clear, I've made clear ... we are not planning for a war with Iran.” Gates sounded just as bellicose as the President and Vice-President Cheney, when he said, “What we are trying to do is, in Iraq, counter what the Iranians are doing to our soldiers, their involvement and activities, particularly these explosively-formed projectiles that are killing our troops and we're trying to get them to stop their nuclear enrichment.“ But the administration has not presented hard evidence. David E. Sanger and Mark Mazetti report in the New York Times, “administration officials delayed publication of evidence intended to support Washington’s contention that Iran supplies lethal technology and other aid to militias in Iraq.” There are doubts about the quality of the evidence inside the administration, but the official explanation for the still missing evidence mentions conveniently the risk of disclosing the sources of intelligence.
Robert Gates who seemed open to all kinds of options during his confirmation hearings has obviously embraced the neo-conservative agenda and the no-diplomacy stance of the White House. And he has bought into the idea of the real villains responsible for the Iraq fiasco: Iranian leaders and their support for Shiite militias.
During the run-up to the Iraq War, the mainstream news media failed terribly by reporting overwhelmingly, if not exclusively from the perspective of the administration and its supporters. Since then, the media’s post-9/11 syndrome has vanished or at least weakened. Intimidation does not longer work for the White House and its supporters as it did in the months and years after 9/11. And yet, if we need to stay tuned for the latest on "the coming war with Iran," as Joe Scarborough tells us and the administration's war drummers seem to indicate, the mainstream media need to pay far more attention to such a troubling prospect than they have done so far. The No Quarter blog has done so.