While Iraq remains the primary point of tension between the US and Iran, the consequences are increasingly regional in scope. The State Department has issued a new report charging Iran with supporting global terrorism. The Pentagon has announced an upcoming report specifying evidence of Tehran’s support for Shi’a militias in Iraq. Further, some observers interpret General Petraeus’ nomination to head US Central Command as a sign of a more robust US response against Tehran’s wider strategic influence. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Gates has renewed criticism of what he called Iran’s hell-bent pursuit of nuclear weapons. He has ordered the deployment of a second Carrier Strike Group as a reminder to Tehran of US military might. Also, Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff has underscored that all options certainly remain open for US policy. Conversations with Administration officials leave us in no doubt that they remain committed to isolating Iran. This approach is being challenged by Tehran’s own diplomatic efforts. While Secretary of State Rice was participating in a meeting of permanent Security Council members and Germany about Iran, India has publicly rebuffed State Department calls to assist in pressuring Tehran. The White House’s difficulties in containing Iranian ambitions have added fuel to the debate on the campaign trail. Senator McCain, who is hawkish on Iran, has recently found an ally in Senator Clinton, who declared her willingness to totally obliterate Iran should it attack Israel. Senator Obama criticized this as “saber-rattling” and has renewed calls for dialogue. Whoever occupies the White House in 2009 will find Iran as a high priority.
Irancove @ May 8, 2008