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Until recently, I thought the odds that the United States would attack Iran were less than fifty-fifty, but the chances of a military confrontation are clearly growing (as my colleague Scott Horton has been reporting on for some time). Earlier this year, I asked a former CIA official, who was stationed in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War and served in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, if he though the administration was planning a military strike. “I don’t think the administration is about to carry out military action,” he told me. “The military does not want to do this. We will lose planes if there is a massive air strike over Iran. We’ll have pilots killed and captured.”
Yesterday, I called the official—who speaks with me only off the record—and he now believes a military strike is likely. Here are his comments, which I offer not as an endorsement of an invasion, but because of his knowledge and insights into what might lay ahead:
It looks like a military strike is in the works and I base that on two things: observable fact and the rhetoric emanating from the White House. There’s a lot of movement of troops and materiel into the region–it’s stuff the United States can’t hide. It’s a huge expense to put Navy battle groups in the Gulf and we’ve got three of them there. We’ve also moved new fighter planes to Guam amidst much public fanfare. You can plainly see the upturn in US Naval activity in and around the Norfolk Naval installations. The movement of ships, re-supply, ammunition loading and general level of activity is high.
The Naval facilities and the ammunition loading areas are well known, and the activity is readily visible, especially at night. There’s a stream of ships coming in to load up and when they take off new ones come in. There’s only one part of the world where all that stuff is heading. Also, everyone I know who would be involved in an attack on Iran–pilots and other air assets–is gone. Normally some of them are around but now all of them are away at the same time.
The other evidence of a likely strike is all the harsh talk from the White House. President Bush has been talking about Iran a lot more recently, and he put the Revolutionary Guard on the list of terrorist groups. Whatever you think of the president, he has said he won’t let Iran move forward with its nuclear program. I’d take him at his word.
And it’s doable. The only part of the military that’s not stretched to the limits in Iraq is the Air Force. It will be a multi-day, multi-target air campaign–not ‘Shock and Awe,’ which wasn’t shocking and didn’t awe anyone, but a savage blow struck against President Ahmadinejad. We shouldn’t hit Iran’s Navy or Air Force but target the nuclear sites and the Revolutionary Guard. A measured response helps Ahmadinejad because he’s saying the Americans won’t attack, or can’t hurt, Iran. A disproportionate response will be hard for him to explain to the Iranian public.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”