Pentagon “Iran Directorate” stumps for war

A new Pentagon study group called the Iran Directorate has surfaced in recent media reports, drawing analogies to now disbanded (and discredited) Office of Special Plans which pushed for war on Iraq. An Oct. 6 analysis by Daniel Schulman in Mother Jones calls the Directorate and figures around it the “Whack Iran” lobby, naming Elizabeth Cheney (the VP’s daughter); prominent neocons David Wurmser, Abram Shulsky, Elliott Abrams and Michael Ledeen; and Iranian arms dealder Manucher Ghorbanifar. The old nuclear ultra-hawk think thank, the Committee on the Present Danger, has apparently also been revived to stump for war on Iran. A Sept. 30 account in Newsday widely quoted Danielle Pletka of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who openly takes pot-shots at the State Department pragmatists who are slowing the war drive:

Time magazine reported two weeks ago that extra ships were being sent to the Persian Gulf to block Iranian ports if necessary. And this year Rumsfeld created a Pentagon office to advise him on Iran, as he did for Iraq. The Iran Directorate bears some of the hallmarks of the old Office of Special Plans, which critics say funneled bogus intelligence from now-discredited Iraqi exiles directly to the White House.

Created in March, the directorate also represents the Pentagon at U.S. governmentwide meetings on Iran, said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman. He called any comparison between the offices “absolutely untrue” but confirmed that two people from the special-plans office now work in the directorate.

Bush continues to state that Iran will not be allowed a nuclear weapon. “It is time for Iran to make a choice,” he said on Aug. 31. “We’ve made our choice: We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution — but there must be consequences for Iran’s defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”

Pletka believes the State Department’s soft approach will lead to war. “One outcome we don’t want is to have no options available to contain Iran other than military,” Pletka said. “That’s where I think we’re headed.”

While the military option is “very unattractive,” Pletka said, “if I had to choose between the measured military might of the U.S. and an armed [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad regime, I think the choice is fairly obvious.”

See our last posts on Iran, Elizabeth Cheney, Michael Ledeen the Committee on the Present Danger and the American Enterprise Institute.