In the aftermath of 9/11, the US began its assault on al-Qaeda and other Sunni terrorist groups. Fast
forward to 2003: the US invades Iraq, in part because Hussein supposedly has ties to al-Qaeda, and a new Shiite-led government is eventually created. Now fast forward another couple of years: we find that the Shiite government is suddenly getting too cozy with Iran, the major leader of the Shiite Middle East. The Saudis, the major Sunni power in the region, get nervous. And so, too, are the hawks in Washington who fear a potentially nuclear Iran. The result: the Bush administration is now looking to contain Shiite power at all costs.
This "re-direction" has involved developing contingency plans for a military (most likely aerial) assault on Iran. And, the Bush administration, in conjunction with the Saudis, is even now backing (i.e. funneling financial aid to) radical Sunni groups who oppose Shiite authority, even though they also amazingly have ties with al-Qaeda. Bizarrely, we’re now indirectly helping the very enemy that we initially set out to destroy. Or so that’s the claim of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, who famously broke the stories on My Lai and Abu Ghraib.
Hersh’s claims are spelled out in a new article appearing in the latest edition of The New Yorker, which is well worth a read. (His other New Yorker pieces on the Iran attack plan appear here, here, and here.) You’ll also want to give a listen to his energetic interview on NPR’s Fresh Air (iTunes – Feed – Mp3), where he covers much of the same ground.
On a related note, we’d also refer you to a recent program aired by Open Source. It, too, deals with likelihood of a US invasion of Iran, and tries to figure out whether the Bush administration’s hardening rhetoric is simply a risky negotiation strategy, a way to force the Iranians to the table, or whether it’s a prelude to an almost certain war. You can listen here (Itunes – Mp3) or check out the related piece on the Open Source blog.