Apropos the contrast between how European foreign-policy experts and the Bush Administration view the world, Billmon highlights one of the more grimly amusing sections of a report by retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner.
After collecting data, opinions, and evidence from his wide network of contacts in and outside the U.S. government on the subject of the possible (inevitable?) U.S. military strike on Iran, Gardiner notes:
When I discuss the possibility of an American military strike on Iran with my European friends, they invariably point out that an armed confrontation does not make sense — that it would be unlikely to yield any of the results that American policymakers do want, and that it would be highly likely to yield results that they do not. I tell them they cannot understand U.S. policy if they insist on passing options through that filter. The "making sense" filter was not applied over the past four years for Iraq, and it is unlikely to be applied in evaluating whether to attack Iran.
Later in the same report, Gardiner emphasizes:
One thing is clear: a major source of the pressure for a military strike emanates from the very man whi will ultimately make the decision over whether to authorize such a strike — the president. And these various accounts of his motivations and rationales have in common that the president will not allow does-not-make-sense arguments to stand in the way of a good idea.
According to Gardiner, preparations for a strike against Iran have been underway for several years, and American diplomacy is a fig-leaf: "[T]he administration is not making good-faith efforts to avert a war so much as going through the motions, eliminating other possible strategies of engagement, until the only option left on the table is the military one."
The attack will consist of an aerial-bombardment campaign lasting up to five days; but there will be no ground invasion of Iran. Bush Administration officials hope that the bombing campaign will trigger regime change in Iran seriously, but no independent expert thinks so. If Iran chooses to retaliate for the strike, it could do everything from spurring a bloody campaign against U.S. forces in Iraq to disrupting oil supplies, depending on how forceful a response it felt was in order. One likely consequence: a "global, synchronized recession." The main point of Gardiner’s report is that the Bush Administration knows this will happen, but thinks the strike is the right thing to do anyway.
Of course, I’ve no idea whether this is strategic leaking designed to convey the impression that the U.S. is serious, or whether it’s strategic leaking which proves the U.S. is serious, but Gardiner seems to believe the latter. And former Bush aide Robert Blackwill, after a recent question-and-answer session with Mahmoud Ahmadenijad at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "If this man represents the prevailing government opinion in Tehran, we are heading for a massive confrontation with Iran." Fasten your seat belts.