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Sunday, 26th October 2008

New Report for The Century Foundation from Retired Air force Colonel Sam Gardiner Warns of Dangers of Escalation in the U.S.-Iran Confrontation

New Report for The Century Foundation from Retired Air force Colonel Sam Gardiner Warns of Dangers of Escalation in the U.S.-Iran Confrontation
Source: The Century Foundation

In it s waning months of power, the Bush administration has advanced a variety of escalating pressures against Iran that could trigger an unintended confrontation and tie the next president’s hands, argues retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner in a new paper for The Century Foundation. Among them, he writes, are covert operations through proxy groups inside Iran.

In Dangerous and Getting More Dangerous: The Delicate Situation between the United States and Iran, Gardiner suggests that the U.S. policy on Iran is “in conflict with itself.” He writes that on the public side, the United States is working to change Iranian behavior by insisting that the Islamic Republic stop nuclear enrichment, stop involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and stop support of groups such as Hezbollah.

However, Gardiner argues, the United States is taking covert actions that can only be read in Tehran as working to change the Iranian regime—and would likely have the perverse result of strengthening those inside the Iranian power structure who are the most adamant in refusing to change course. Gardiner warns that this is not only bad policy, but also dangerous policy.

The report is a follow-up to Gardiner’s 2006 report for The Century Foundation, The End of the “Summer of Diplomacy”: Assessing the US Military Options on Iran. In that report, he discussed the pressures that were moving the United States toward the military option against Iran. In the new report, he describes how the United States policy has evolved over the past two years, moving more and more toward covert operations, as policymakers have come to see the costs of “preventive” military attack as prohibitive. He offers evidence of recent covert operations in Iran. He also considers Israel’s role as a strategic rival to Iran in the region, and he assesses the ways the Iranians have reacted—and might react in the near future -- to what they deduce are hostile actions by the United States and Israel.

+ Full Report (PDF; 330 KB)


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