The United States and Iran: Questions That Still Need to be Answered

In a Feb. 6 interview on the Fox News Sunday program Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States supports a European effort to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program but has not “eliminated any alternative.” (Photo: HO / AFP-Getty Images)

Recently, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker that the Bush Administration had authorized the Pentagon to send commando forces to the Middle East with a special focus on Iran in order to carry out reconnaissance missions on potential military targets. Hersh alleged that the Bush Administration had chosen this route to carry out these activities rather than the C.I.A. for the purposes of shielding the operation and to stop it from being brought before Congress. The Pentagon has since stated that the story is full of inaccuracies but has not elaborated on the specifics.

If Hersh's probing is correct, and many believe that it is, many now see the early propaganda campaign beginning for what could turn out to be strategic military strikes carried out by United States forces. Iran has been on the American radar since Bush's Axis of Evil speech in 2002. Diplomatic relations between the two countries has been severed since 1979 when 60 Americans were held hostage in Iran for 444 days.

The issue of Iran's development of nuclear weapons has reached the United Nations Security Council several times while the European Union and some its member states are currently attempting to avoid an altercation. The International Atomic Energy Agency is also monitoring Iran's compliance with international agreements. Germany, France and Britain have negotiated an agreement that would have Iran voluntarily suspend uranium enrichment for economic incentives and other aid related to power generation. American concerns are centered around twenty disputed centrifuges and the terms of their usage.

With the Bush Administration's penchant for unilateralism, there will no doubt be an escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran over the next eighteen months.

During the lead up to the presidential election in 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made public comments related to possible Israeli involvement in pre-emptive strikes on Iranian targets similar to the ones which Israel made against Iraq in the early 1980’s to thwart their development of nuclear weapons.

Is the United States ready to engage in another war? Will there be a draft? How will the Iraqi situation bear on the United States’ willingness to begin an altercation in Iran? Is it inevitable? Are there Republicans within the Senate, the House of Representatives or Bush's inner circle who can thwart such aggressive, unilateral behavior?

These are very basic questions that will need to be answered in the coming months.