By now everyone following the developing news on Iran has heard about Seymour Hersh's article claiming that the Bush administration has decided to carry out plans for a massive bombing campaign of Iran in order to destroy its nuclear capability and destabilize its theocratic regime.
Despite the fact that Hersh's article was based on the statements of a variety of high-level sources within the White House, intelligence community, and congress, his article was dismissed as being 'wild speculation' and 'nuts', or 'sensationalistic' by many. However, there's been a couple of recent news items that should be something of a wake up call for those naive enough to think that Bush's belligerence is just empty bluster.
The first item was Blair's sacking of Jack Straw as Britain's Foreign Secretary last week. This piece of news came as a big surprise to many observers. The Guardian weighed in on the issue and speculated on the reasons behind Jack Straw's dismissal from the post.
The article argues that Straw was likely removed for two main reasons: 1. His chummy relationship with labour rival Gordon Brown, 2. His recent comments about an attack on Iran being 'inconceivable', and the use of tactical nukes being 'nuts'. The following passage from the article elaborates on the second reason:
Mr. Blair, who sees Iran as the world's biggest threat, does not agree with his former foreign secretary. The prime minister argues that, at the very least, nothing should be ruled out in order to keep Iran guessing. Downing Street phoned the Foreign Office several times to suggest Mr. Straw stop going on the BBC Today programme and ruling it out so categorically.
His fate was sealed when the White House called Mr. Blair and asked why the foreign secretary kept saying these things. In any case, Mr. Straw had boxed himself in on Iran to the extent that he would have had to resign if a military strike became a reality.
It should come as no surprise that Blair has denied that the removal of Straw had anything to do with his previous statements on Iran.