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All Options Are On The Table

Seymour Hersch has created yet another small dust storm beneath the shoes of those energetically willing to buy the hype he so often is selling. His latest in The New Yorker, The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?, is breathless conjecture placed beneath a New Yorker section heading called, amusingly, "Fact".

Austin Bay takes Hersch to task without pulling puches.

Sy Hersh is a provacateur, not a reporter. StrategyPage has covered all of the options Hersh mentions – without the breathless hype and fearmongering.

After referring to a portion of Hersch's lengthy collumn where he writes "One military planner told me that White House criticisms of Iran and the high tempo of planning and clandestine activities amount to a campaign of “coercion” aimed at Iran," Bay retorts.

Campaign of coercion — well, duh. Or rational preparations. Or military prepatory actions to support diplomatic initiatives. This is news? No, this is schtick.

Schtick indeed. Hamid Reza Asefi, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, reacted to Hersch's story and essentially agreed claiming the US is engaged in an 'psychological war' with Iran. In a NewsBrief link to that story over the weekend, we included a TW Note that said, "Of course we are."

In contrast to Hersch, the latest from Ralph Peters is excellent. He asks, Does Iran Want War?

The most dangerous error we could make in our sharpening confrontation with Iran is to convince ourselves that its leaders will act rationally. Few wars are rooted in dispassionate analysis. Self-delusion sparks most such catastrophes.

The power brokers in Tehran may be on the verge of misjudging America's will and resources as profoundly as did the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, or al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001.

Stalin misread America's will when he acquiesced in the Korean Communist invasion of the south. So did Castro, when he imagined that he could impose a tyrannical regime on Grenada.

Saddam Hussein misread America, too. Twice. First, when he convinced himself that he could grab Kuwait with impunity, and, second, when he did his weapons-of-mass-destruction fan dance. (Bulletin for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad: Don't play the I've-got-weapons-you'd-better-be-afraid-of card.)

Without doubt, the regime is not rational, it is messianic. All options had better be on the table, whether Sy Hersch likes it or not. As Peters concludes, if we eventually find ourselves in a military conflict with Iran, "we should make the conflict so devastating and painful that even our allies are stunned."