The coming weeks will, in large part, determine the fate of the Iran, the Middle East, and the world. While the likelihood of an American attack on Iran is great, it is not a foregone conclusion. In saying that, however, it is important to note that there is nothing that the US Congress or the American people can do to stop the Bush regime and assorted neoconservatives in the Pentagon from launching their long-awaited aerial assault.
Congress, especially the Democratic leadership, though it is "conducting itself foolishly"--as Israeli General Oded Tiran recently said, is essentially powerless. The lone congressional resolution that is being debated that would hinder the administration's ability to attack Iran is known as Walter Jones Resolution or HJR 14, which states: "Absent a national emergency created by attack by Iran, or a demonstrably imminent attack by Iran, upon the United States, its territories, possessions, or its armed forces, the president shall consult with Congress, and receive specific authorization pursuant to law from Congress, prior to initiating any use of force on Iran." Needless to say, there are few co-sponsors of this resolution and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, having already declared her support for military action before an AIPAC conference (scroll down to read the speech itself, and go here for more), seems intent on preventing the resolution from coming to the floor.
Even if, by some unforeseen miracle, the Democrats do pass the Walter Jones resolution, it is not outside the realm of possibility that a "demonstrably imminent attack by Iran upon the United States [impossible], its territories [also impossible as the nearest one, not counting Iraq and the Gulf States, is the island of Diego Garcia, whose inhabitants were forcibly relocated decades ago to make way for a Cold War-era NSA listening post and a naval base--they still are prohibited from returning], possessions [once again, does Iraq count?] or its armed forces" could easily be simulated to get around this particular resolution. Passing HJR 14 would, at the very most, necessitate a false flag operation resulting in the destruction of one of the innumerable US military assets in the vicinity of Iran. Indeed, the unsubstantiated rhetoric claiming an Iranian origin of some explosives being used against American forces in Iraq is a ready-made "attack by Iran" upon US armed forces (it is notable, however, that recently the Bush administration has been forced to curb rhetoric to this effect due to its lack of evidence). From an administration of unparalleled arrogance and mendacity, a false flag operation like the Gulf of Tonkin incident during the Vietnam War would not be difficult. If the decision has been made to attack Iran, no amount of political pressure from congressional Democrats (which, keeping with tradition on matters of war and human life would be muted) and/or Republicans will be able to change that course. A sizable portion of the American public has already demonstrated a willingness to believe an administration that it recognizes as having lied it into another war of agression (okay, two), and the Bush administration doesn't care about them either.
Then why am I not absolutely certain that Iran will be attacked? --To be sure, it does appear that the military preparations have been made.
Firstly, many have already commented extensively on the fallout and direct retaliation that would accompany an attack on Iran, throwing much of the Middle East into further chaos and virtually insuring a disaster for American servicemen--and, notably, the imperial/corporate designs they serve--in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Bush, Cheney, and the neoconservative courtiers in the Pentagon and the American Empire Institute clearly could care less about American deaths (Muslim ones don't count, at least not unless they're a sign of "progress"). They do, however, care about the supply of oil flowing through the Persian Gulf, and no amount of naval genius from "Fox" Fallon, the new regional overlord of American Empire, is going to insure that. Tankers have to be insured, and insurance prices do take regional instability into account. This is reflected in the price of oil, which would skyrocket. Normally, again, that would scarcely trouble the administration, but in this case, it may just speed the coming global depression if the US were to attack Iran.
I'm not sure whether the Bush administration cares about that, either, though the oil industry does, and may not want an attack on Iran at this time, as evidenced by James Baker and the foreign policy establishment's desire for a more conciliatory, diplomatic Iran policy. It remains uncertain whether Bush will actually order an attack without the approval of the oil industry, and that is the primary uncertainty with regard to an attack on Iran.
At the same time, the actions of the Islamic Republic do have some significance in the issue. If, as Trita Parsi suggests, the Iranian regime chooses to suspend enrichment before the February 21 deadline, their American and Israeli counterparts will most likely be unable to continue with their plans to attack Iran.
Rising internal criticism of Ahmadinejad, mostly turning him into a scapegoat for the regime's systemically corrupt, unjust, and suffocating economic system, suggests that the regime is willing to sacrifice the hardline rhetoric in return for a de-escalation on the nuclear front. This would be consistent with its long-standing dedication--like that of any state--to maintaining its own power, above all else.
Some have suggested that the current positioning of American naval assets in the Persian Gulf area, along with the leak to Bulgarian news that US Air Force bases in the country will be used for an attack on Iran, is all simply a "tactical feint" of gunboat diplomacy meant to force the Islamic Republic to comply with American demands (though those demands are, indeed, illegal, as is the use of force or the threat of force to influence policy, an action commonly called "terrorism", as in the American military definition of the term). The "tactical feint" scenario is possible, though it would be a level of strategic depth heretofore unseen from the current warmongering cabal.
While current indications vis-a-vis Bush administration rhetoric and military posturing still lead to the assessment that an attack on Iran is imminent and already has been decided upon, they could indeed be an orchestrated attempt at forcing the theocratic regime (in Tehran, not Washington) to blink in this moronic, destructive game of chicken. Who knows? Only God, and, of course, the Devil.
Over the next few weeks, we will know. Oil futures markets and the actions of the Iranian regime will be far more reliable indicators of the state of impending conflagration than American rhetoric, which is heavily fact-deficient at any rate.
A suspension of enrichment, in the fashion that Parsi suggests (after revealing the achievement of a full fuel cycle), could function as a face-saving act for both the Islamic Republic and the Bush administration. The latter could claim that it's aggressive, terroristic version of "diplomacy" has achieved results, and probably gain enough popularity to steamroll any prospective (though unlikely) congressional efforts to tie its hands in Iraq. If, however, the neoconservatives close to Bush have already made their moronic decision to attack Iran, then a late-stage suspension of enrichment would be sneered at and probably questioned, with the corporate media in full compliance.
At this point, it's a coin flip, with millions of possible victims. Remind me why this is happening?