WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card once famously said of the administration’s 2002 campaign to get support for the invasion of Iraq, ''From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.''
Now August is behind us, and -- right on schedule -- marketers both in the White House and among their supporters outside are rolling out their newest product, a public relations blitz urging a U.S. military adventure in Iran.
Consider the recent speech by President Bush to the American Legion. In it he said, “Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
“Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions.
“We will confront this danger before it is too late,” he concluded.
Of course, President Bush’s speech, not for the first time, stood in 180 degree contrast to reality.
The day before, while making public the recently completed agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Olli Heinonen, deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said, "We have in front of us an agreed work plan. We agreed on modalities on how to implement it. We have a timeline for the implementation."
But however distorted their relationship to reality, Bush’s words have impact.
"I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities," he said. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. military in Iraq arrested and detained eight Iranian energy experts meeting in Baghdad with the Iraqi government, handcuffing, blindfolding and interrogating them.
They were only released when the Iraqi government protested.
On Sept. 10 the American Enterprise Institute, a sort of neoconservative administration-in-waiting, will debut the newest book by its “Freedom Scholar” Michael Ledeen, one of the foremost proponents of the military adventure in Iraq.
Titled “The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction,” it is a rehash of neocon arguments for “regime change” -- by military force, if necessary -- in Tehran. Although he calls for supporting and funding the regime’s domestic opposition, Ledeen concludes that this “administration or the next will likely face a terrible choice: appease a nuclear Iran, or bomb it before their atomic weapons are ready to go.”
Jim Lobe, the Washington bureau chief of the Inter Press Service renowned for his coverage of the neoconservative influence in the Bush administration, notes that the rollout of Ledeen’s book comes just four days after AEI will launch its Sept. 6 “All or Nothing” campaign to “save the surge” in Iraq. He wrote:
“The chronological juxtaposition of the Surge panel Sept. 6 and the rollout of Ledeen’s book Sept. 10 underlines the balance that AEI and other hawks (including the vice president’s office) are trying to achieve between their two top priorities at the moment -- sustaining the surge well into next year and rallying Congress and the public behind an attack on Iran before the end of Bush’s term, if by then “diplomacy” does not achieve the desired results of 1) freezing its nuclear program and/or 2) halting Tehran’s support for its Shia allies (including the al-Maliki government) in Iraq.”
Meanwhile, Kimberly Kagan, who directs the Institute for the Study of War, has written a lengthy report titled "Iran's Proxy War Against the United States and the Iraqi Government" that was posted on the Web site of neoconservative organ the Weekly Standard.
Kagan is the wife of Frederick Kagan, an AEI scholar and one of the intellectual architects of the Iraq surge. She is also listed as one of the participants in her husband's research team that came up with the idea for the surge in the first place.
Of course, there are also exceptions to the “don’t do rollouts until after Labor Day” strategy.
One was at the end of July, when the State Department unveiled a series of arms sales in the region to contain Iran. In her July 30 announcement of the potential sale of $20 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the arms will "support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaida, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran."
However, the exact nature of the Iranian threat or how these U.S. weapons transfers will counter it was never spelled out.
The other was in August when the Senate unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Lieberman, I-Conn., accusing Iran of acts of war against the United States -- a resolution with no purpose other than to strengthen the case for war against Tehran.
A third was the White House decision to designate at least elements of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, using the president’s authority under a September 2001 executive order. Robert Baer, a former high-ranking CIA field officer in the Middle East, wrote recently in Time Magazine that:
“Reports that the Bush administration will put Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list can be read in one of two ways: It's either more bluster or, ominously, a wind-up for a strike on Iran. Officials I talk to in Washington vote for a hit on the IRGC, maybe within the next six months.”
(David Isenberg is a senior analyst with the British American Security Information Council. He is also a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, contributor to the Straus Military Reform Project, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, and a U.S. Navy veteran. The views expressed are his own.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)