BOMBING IRAN….The Washington Post’s Dana Priest opines that if the White House decides to bomb Iran, “the military would revolt and there would be no pilots to fly those missions.” Matt Yglesias isn’t convinced:
It’s important to avoid overstating the degree of military opposition to a bomb Iran policy. As best I can tell, the Army is dead-set against it. But the Army wouldn’t be carrying the mission out anyway. It’d be shocking for the Air Force to suddenly come to appreciate the strategic limits of air power. In their minds, bombing Iran won’t compound the error of Iraq; rather, it’ll show the manifest benefits of doing things their way rather than getting bogged-down into an Army-style quagmire.
A couple of things. First, my semi-understanding of the state of play here is that opposition to bombing Iran comes at the Joint Chiefs and theater command levels, not at the individual service level. Second, a lot of this surely depends on what kind of bombing mission we’re talking about. A massive two-week effort deep into the heart of Iran to destroy their nuclear infrastructure is one thing, and that seems to be the mission the Chiefs have a problem with. (Assuming scuttlebutt is right and they have a problem in the first place.) But if Sy Hersh is right and Dick Cheney’s latest gambit is to turn Iran into a 21st century Cambodia complete with “limited” bombing raids along the border, that’s another thing entirely. I’d be surprised if anyone in the E Ring had a serious problem with that.
In fact, you might recall that a few weeks ago Joe Lieberman asked Gen. David Petraeus if it was time to give him authority to perform military missions in Iran, and contrary to the anti-Joe spin that this exchange received in the liberal blogosphere, Petraeus very decidedly didn’t say he was opposed to the idea. What he said was that he personally wanted to focus on Iraq and “any kinds of operations outside the borders of Iraq would rightly be overseen by Central Command.” That’s not exactly stirring opposition.
Now, Adm. Fallon, based on his public statements, doesn’t seem especially inclined to expand the Iraq war into Iran. Neither does Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Still, the drumbeat of reports from Baghdad implicating Iran in supplying weaponry to its various clients and allies in Iraq has been increasing considerably over the past month or two, and that kind of thing doesn’t happen unless the Army wants it to happen. So somebody in Petraeus’s command is happy to help Cheney’s marketing program along. Maybe it’s Petraeus himself, maybe someone else. And, yes, the Air Force is probably pleased at the prospect too. Stay tuned.