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Cheney on the Warpath Again?

Knox notes a history of hyperbole from Bush on this topic. "It was far from the first time that the deeply unpopular US president has dramatically described Iraq as the front line against Tehran and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network as he works to revive anemic US support for the war.

"In August 2007, Bush warned that Iran's suspect atomic program threatened to place the entire Middle East 'under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.'

"In October 2007, Bush told world leaders that preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons was necessary 'if you're interested in avoiding World War III.'

"On two occasions, in March 2008 and in August 2007, Bush wrongly asserted that Iran had openly declared that it wants nuclear weapons. The White House later said he had erred. . . .

"Bush has refused to rule out using force in the nuclear standoff, fueling worries that he will attack Iran -- which he famously called part of an 'axis of evil' with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- before leaving office.

"In October, US Vice President Dick Cheney stoked those concerns when he warned Iran to suspend uranium enrichment or face 'serious consequences' -- the very language in the UN resolution on Iraq that the White House says justified the March 2003 invasion."

Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker write in the New York Times: "Mr. Bush's focus on Iran, while not new, reflected deepening concerns in the administration and the Pentagon about suspected Iranian support for some extremists. They say that support became increasingly evident late last month during the indecisive Iraqi operation to wrest control of Basra from Shiite militias and more recently in a spate of rocket attacks on the Green Zone in Baghdad."

And the neocons are clearly restless.

Matt Corley writes for ThinkProgress.org: "On his radio show this morning, Bill Bennett told the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol -- who had a personal meeting with President Bush yesterday -- that a 'conclusion' he drew was that the hearing was 'less an argument for getting out of Iraq than going into Iran.' After suggesting that Iran may 'have to pay some price at some point on their own soil,' Kristol said that President Bush authorizing an attack of some kind before he leaves office is not 'out of the question'":

Bennett: "Do you think there's any chance that, and we won't ask you to reveal anything confidential, do you think there's any chance that we might take some action against some aspect of the Ira -- against Iran, let's put it that way, before the president leaves office?"

Kristol: "We didn't really talk about that, in all honesty, directly. I don't think it's out of the question. I think people are overdoing how much of a lame duck the president is."

Meanwhile, Charles Krauthammer takes a slightly different but also alarming tack in his Washington Post opinion column. Citing the "apocalyptic and messianic" views of the Iranian leaders, he endorses a form of deterrence that could actually increase tensions. Krauthammer writes: "President Bush's greatest contribution to nuclear peace would be to issue the following declaration . . .: 'It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear attack upon Israel by Iran, or originating in Iran, as an attack by Iran on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon Iran.'"


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