Despite its claims to the contrary, some see evidence that the White House is preparing for conflict with Iran.
US forces raided a facility that Iran claimed was being used for diplomatic purposes, alleging that Iranians were funneling weapons to the enemy. Six Iranians were captured in the raid at the consulate, with one being released earlier today.
Several analysts consider parts of President Bush's latest speech as an obvious threat to Iran. One, John Pike of GlobalSecurity, notes that U.S. actions could signal a conflict in the near future.
"It's really unclear what the President was saying," Pike said. "It's a little more clear what the United States is actually doing, [President Bush] was basically calling on Iran not to interfere with Iraq, not to further interfere with Iraq."
Pike added, "But, also, look at what he said the United States is going to do. As previously reported, several weeks ago, the aircraft carrier, John Stennis, is being dispatched to the Persian Gulf. That gives the United States two aircraft carriers in the Gulf. Round the clock operations. He also, surprisingly, announced that the United States was going to be deploying Patriot anti-missile interceptors to the region. It's difficult to imagine whose missiles those would be shooting down other than Iran. It's looks to me like the United States is, at least, raising its capabilities in preparation for possible military confrontation with Iran."
Pike provides a time frame in which the U.S. or Israel might first strike Iran, explaining, "I think the month of February is certainly a time of heightened probability. It's very difficult to understand exactly what the thinking is at the White House and in the Israeli government but for sometime now we've been saying that 2007 is probably the time, if there's going to be military action, it's probably going to come this year. Possible as soon as next month. Probably no later that August of this year."
Nearly a year ago, Pike warned about a "cycle of escalation."
"When the Americans or Israelis are thinking about [military force], I hope they will sit down and think about everything the ayatollahs could do to make our lives miserable and what we will do to discourage them," John Pike said in Feb. 2006.
"There could be a cycle of escalation," Pike added.
Quotes today from White House spokesman Tony Snow, and word on a new House resolution regarding Iran, follow the video.
At the White House, meanwhile, Bush spokesman Tony Snow asserted that any notions that the President is planning an invasion of Iran, or Syria, is a "myth or urban legend," United Press International reports.
"What the president was talking about is defending American forces within Iraq and also doing what we can to disrupt networks that might be trying to convey weapons or fighters into battle theaters within Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis," the UPI quotes Snow at a press briefing today.
Snow added, per the UPI, "that Bush still disagrees with proposals to negotiate with Iran and Syria, based on the assumption that both countries want stability in Iraq."
In the U.S. House today, Republican Rep. Walter Jones (NC) introduced a resolution requiring the President "to receive congressional authorization to use military force against Iran," reports McClatchy Newspapers.
"The resolution requires that – absent a national emergency created by an attack, or a demonstrably imminent attack, by Iran upon the United States or its armed forces – the President must consult with Congress and receive specific authorization prior to initiating any use of military force against Iran," Rep. Jones said in a press release.
"Today, there is a growing concern – justified or not – that some U.S. officials are contemplating military action against Iran," Jones continues. "This resolution makes it crystal clear that no previous resolution passed by Congress authorizes such use of force. The Constitution of the United States declares that, while the Commander in Chief has the power to conduct wars, only Congress has the power to authorize them."