Warships Headed to Iran


Is the Bush administration really nuts enough to go to war with Iran when the military is stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan? Several media outlets, including Mother Jones, think the administration is capable of it. But the predictions of war with Iran are moving beyond armchair psychoanalysis and into wargame-watching.

A strike force led by the aircraft carrier Eisenhower is currently making its way to the entrance of the Persian Gulf, with a predicted arrival date of October 21. The Navy officially claims that the Eisenhower’s deployment is part of a normal rotation of ships in and out of the Gulf. But The Nation reports that the carrier’s deployment date was pushed up significantly. Both Time and MSNBC say the move was accompanied by a request from the Chief of Naval Operations to revamp a plan to blockade Iran from the Persian Gulf.

The Nation got its story from an anti-war retired Air Force Colonel, Sam Gardiner, who claims that officers of the deploying ships contacted him and “complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress.” But the president might see it differently. When Bush addressed the U.N. in mid-September, he claimed that Iran’s leaders were “fund[ing] terrorism and fuel[ing] extremism.” And President Bush has made a point of broadly interpreting the post-9/11 congressional vote authorizing him to combat terrorism (including as authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on American citizens). He could potentially initiate conflict with Iran with no further congressional approval.