Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Strategy paper reveals Bush won't attack Iran

WASHINGTON, Jun 20 (IPS) - In every statement on Iran, officials of the George W. Bush administration routinely repeat the party line that "the president never takes any option off the table". Despite the constant invocation of a possible military attack on Iran, however, a little-noticed section of the administration's official national security strategy indicates that Bush has already decided that he will not use military force to try to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

Instead, the administration has shifted its aim to pressing Iran to make internal political changes, based on the dubious theory that it would lead to a change in Iranian nuclear policy.

News coverage of the U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) issued Mar. 16 emphasised its reference to the doctrine of preemption. But a careful reading of the document reveals that its real message -- ignored by the media -- was that Iran will not alter its nuclear policy until after regime change has taken place.

The NSS takes pains to reduce the significance of Iran's obtaining a nuclear capability. "As important as are these nuclear issues," it says, "the United States has broader concerns regarding Iran. The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom."

Then the NSS states, "The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy.

This carefully worded statement thus explicitly makes regime change -- not stopping Iran's progress toward a nuclear capability -- the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran.

... A report by David Sanger in the New York Times Mar. 19 quoting an administration official in an interview a few weeks earlier further underlines the administration's decision against using force to prevent Iran from going nuclear. "The reality is that most of us think the Iranians are probably going to get a weapon, or the technology to make one, sooner or later," the official was quoted as saying. The hope, according to the official, was that by the time it happened, "We'll have a different relationship with a different Iranian government."