Hersh on Iran

Seymour Hersh is out with another eye-scorcher of an article in the New Yorker. In this one he details how the Democratic Leadership (Intelligence Comt. plus Reid and Pelosi) signed off on beefed up secret operations inside Iran. Presumably the rest of the Senate/House (the Democratic caucus) was not aware of this happening.

More distressingly, Hersh details that the firing of Admiral Fallon, former CENTCOM Commander (replaced by Gen. Petraeus) was left largely in the dark about these operations.  Take a guess who was behind that decision?  Rhymes with Rick Heney.

From the article quoting retired Gen. Jack Sheehan (a Fallon supporter):

“The coherence of military strategy is being eroded because of undue civilian influence and direction of nonconventional military operations,” Sheehan said. “If you have small groups planning and conducting military operations outside the knowledge and control of the combatant commander, by default you can’t have a coherent military strategy. You end up with a disaster, like the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.”

Worse still the operations rely (stupidly) on the training/weaponizing of dissident ethnic groups in the country.  One problem with that strategy:

A strategy of using ethnic minorities to undermine Iran is flawed, according to Vali Nasr, who teaches international politics at Tufts University and is also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Just because Lebanon, Iraq, and Pakistan have ethnic problems, it does not mean that Iran is suffering from the same issue,” Nasr told me. “Iran is an old country—like France and Germany—and its citizens are just as nationalistic. The U.S. is overestimating ethnic tension in Iran.” The minority groups that the U.S. is reaching out to are either well integrated or small and marginal, without much influence on the government or much ability to present a political challenge, Nasr said. “You can always find some activist groups that will go and kill a policeman, but working with the minorities will backfire, and alienate the majority of the population.”

And:

The Administration may have been willing to rely on dissident organizations in Iran even when there was reason to believe that the groups had operated against American interests in the past. The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

What could possibly go wrong with this I ask?  For an answer check out pages 5 and 6 of the article where some special ops guys say that this could immediately erase all the gains they have made in Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.  i.e. funding an al-Qaeda like group in Iran to take away any leverage against the real al-Qaeda who attacked us in Pak/Afgh leading to a possible widening/escalation of the conflict and a third front in the War on Terror.   A conflict which if ignited would lead to US war in three adjacent countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq) creating what others have called a terrorist superhighway from Pakistan essentially to Israel.

I see the potential for this to end very badly.  Both Iran and the US are now working with other militias as well as using their own special forces to fight a proxy war against each other.  Iran’s goal being the expulsion of the US occupation in Iraq and its push for permanent bases in the country as a force projector in the region.  The US’ goal the overthrow of the Iranian regime.

The nuclear question is only the presenting issue at the moment for the war hawks/radicals in both countries to push the envelope and seek war.  Right now in this non-zero sum game each radical side (The Bushies and the pro-war Iranian factions, particularly in the Revolutionary Guard) are in a perverse and deadly game of mutually increasing each other’s influence.

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