Interviewed Feb. 14, 2007. Click
here to listen.
Our guest is Wayne
White. He is an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and former
deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research,
Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia.
Horton: Welcome to the show, sir.
White: My pleasure.
Horton: Nice to talk with you. Before we get to Iran, which is the
topic all this week on Antiwar
Radio, I thought we could talk a little bit about the Bush press
conference that just ended. I know you just saw it as well. It seemed pretty
clear to me, that as far as Iraq goes, Bush is still absolutely determined
and apparently still honestly believes that it is possible and necessary for
the Maliki government to succeed in Iraq for there to be a multi-ethnic
single state over that country. He really thinks it would be able to work.
Last week, however, the Council on Foreign Relations released a report
that said it was far too late for this.
I wonder, sir, [your] being a former Iraq analyst at the State Department's
intelligence agency, what your perspective on this debate is.
White: I headed the Iraq Intelligence team for my last two years in
government until 2005 at State. I am much closer to the Council on Foreign Relations
on this. I think a mistake that is consistently made by the administration
and I saw it again in the press conference that has just occurred is
taking what people in the Maliki government (Maliki himself, others) what they
say, as being ground truth, as the military calls it. In another words, they
[the Maliki government] say they are going to do this, and therefore this is
But they are always saying they are going to do something, and their ability
to deliver on promises over the last several years, whether it's the Maliki
government, [Ibrahim] al-Jaafari before him, Iyad Allawi before him the
track record has been an utter failure when it comes to extending governments
in Iraq to the point where you can actually get a handle on any of the serious
Horton: Right. Now, you have written before that, were Iraq to break
into pieces as Yugoslavia did, the result would be horrible, with the various
ethnicities and religious differences people stuck on the "wrong
side" of the lines.
What do you think is going to happen?
White: If civil war breaks out in Iraq and... There is a debate over
the issue of civil war. You know: is there one? is there not one?
I have a high bar. I don't think this is one right now, but the only reason
there isn't one is because we are there separating the parties. The fact that
the sectarian strife has gotten so severe that some people are calling this
a civil war just shows the extent of the blood letting that's going on.
But to get back to your question, one problem that we have in Iraq is that
probably 20 to 25 percent of the inhabited area of the country much of
it is desert and uninhabited is mixed. In any kind of civil war which
is based on ethno-sectarian lines, we are going to have these mixed areas become
heavily contested. It is already happening in Baghdad. In fact, Baghdad is thoroughly
mixed and, because it contains one third of the population of the country, is
the poster child for this kind of problem.
Sure enough the Shia militias in Baghdad have been doing their level best
to empty the city of Sunni Arabs, either by putting notes under the door that
they [the residents] are going to be killed within the next 48 hours or, better
still, killing them outright. Civil war would probably begin if we weren't there
to separate the parties with the Shia militias, Kurdish Peshmerga, which
is their version of the militia, a little more legal, and the overwhelmingly
Shia and Kurdish army sweeping virtually every mixed area in the country of
Horton: If you agree with the Council on Foreign Relations that it
is too late for Maliki to create a multi-ethnic government and hold the country
together, but also that if we leave, full-scale war will break out, what do
White: Unfortunately, I am going to suggest withdrawal. It is the same
thing I said to Soledad O'Brien on CNN American Morning in early December
when she asked me the same question. I am fully aware, as a Middle East expert,
of the very serious consequences of withdrawal as were so many people in the
Iraq Study Group that I was a part of. But as I said to Soledad, to paraphrase
Churchill on Democracy, "Withdrawal is the worst possible option, except for
all the others."
White: Many people, who oppose withdrawal, are opposing it on the mistaken
belief that by staying, we can prevent those consequences from happening. A
lot of us believe that, no, we are just going to stay there, bleed more, loose
more money, and then leave anyway with the same consequences.
Horton: Now you've written, or were quoted at least in one place, as
saying you don't believe that the civil war when we do leave, and it
does break out you don't believe that it will spread outside of Iraq.
Is that right still?
White: You can't say anything and be definitive, and I wish I had nuanced
that slightly, but yes, largely I don't believe that it will spread outside
I think it will probably mimic to some degree the Spanish civil war of the
1930s. It will get just like hell inside of the country and with outside powers
pouring in munitions and money to aid various parties probably, of course
Saudi Arabia, Jordan and perhaps Egypt as well pouring in money and assistance
to the Sunni Arabs to prevent them all from being driven into Jordan and Syria
in the face of what I described before.
Then Iran, quite predictably, will be backing up the Shia in Iraq and feeding
them arms, money and what-have-you to hold up their end of the deal.
So you could actually have a severe amount of fighting inside of the country
with tens of thousands killed without it necessarily spilling across the border.
The parties involved, particularly in supporting the Sunni Arabs, would be providing
that aid in order to keep it from spreading back across their border.
As long as they can keep the Sunni Arabs inside of Iraq from being rolled by
Shia, that will prevent millions of Sunni Arabs from fleeing into areas west
and southwest of the country much as they are now, with already over
two million Sunni Arabs and Iraqi Christians in Syria and Jordan.
Horton: You bring up Iran's arming of the militias. Certainly that
is already happening, and yet there seems to be a point of confusion, particularly
in the last couple of weeks.
The government is saying that the Iranians are arming the Shi'ite militias
with these new high-tech roadside bombs, and that these are what are killing
American soldiers. But I've been under the impression that for almost four years
now, the American soldiers are fighting the Sunni insurgency, and only in smaller,
isolated cases, have they warred against the Shi'ites at all. I am thinking
of the battles in Najaf in 2004, but since then the Shi'ites are basically the
government that the U.S. is backing.
I was wondering if you could help clear up for me whether it is correct that
the Iranians are killing American soldiers with these bombs?
White: These are really good points. You have really done your homework.
I cannot clear up all of this, but I can put some perspective on it.
First of all I believe the president even though he cannot pronounce
"Quds": the Quds force is the Iranian revolutionary guard's dirty
tricks force. I believe [as does the president] that they [Quds] are feeding
these munitions into the country. One reason they would do it, is to provide
Shia militias a formidable defensive weapon should we try to take them on, such
as in the context of a surge.
But as you observe, I am not speaking to how we are losing people to these
things. I find it very perplexing because of the numbers of [U.S.] casualties
have been thrown up that have resulted from these munitions. As you correctly
point out, we haven't been fighting Shia militias since we had two flare ups
with Moqtada al-Sadr way back in 2004. This was just as these things [munitions]
were beginning to appear, and not when they were really around [in greater numbers].
So the government has got a little explaining to do. How did we lose these
people? If we did lose the numbers we are talking about, it was undoubtedly
to Sunni Arab insurgents. This means that these [munitions] have made their
way into the hands of Sunni Arab insurgents. That raises another question. Would
the Iranians give the Sunni Arab insurgents, who loath Iran, this kind of thing?
It is not as simple as it might appear.
Horton: I think your first explanation seems most plausible, that they
[the Iranians] are arming the Shi'ites in case America turns on them, and not
that they've been arming the Sunnis all along.
White: Right. The one thing that has to be said though is sometimes
these lines are not as clear as they appear.
I was looking at one of the pictures in their show, and it was a government
security vehicle from a special unit that had been hit in the town of Hilla,
which is deep in the Shia south. It was probably a Shia perpetrator hitting
a government vehicle of the unit that was probably largely Shia. So there has
been some Shia on Shia militia violence, and to the extent that you give this
stuff to them, they can use it on each other.
But that still doesn't get to the U.S. forces aspect of this. Let me just
say two things. I don't know whether this is true or not, but I am just throwing
out two things.
[First] the Quds force, which means Jerusalem force, this elite dirty tricks
unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, is viciously anti-American and very
bloody-minded. Sometimes things just don't make sense. They [Quds] like killing
Americans, quite frankly, and I would not completely rule out the fact that
they have put some of these things into the hands of the Sunni Arab insurgents
[just to get more Americans killed].
Second, Moqtada al-Sadr, I learned this still in doing my intelligence, has
been in touch with Sunni Arab insurgents, which also seems like a bad fit. But
this is true.
Horton: Particularly at the beginning of the war. During the first
the battle of Fallujah he sent fighters to go up and help.
White: Right, right, and he maintained contacts after that, not because
he liked them, but because they shared his anti-occupation agenda. Could he
have slipped them some of these? Perhaps. So the lines are not quite as clear,
and I find all this rather hard to sort out. But I do believe the Quds force
has been moving this stuff into the country and very cleverly.
The president talks about hunting down these people, the Quds force – he talks
implicitly of doing this. But I don't think there are that many of them [Quds]
in the country.
The Iranians, judging from some of the accounts I've read, are rather smart
about all of this. [They say to Iraqis,] "You come to the border and get
the weapons. We don't deliver," keeping their people to a minimum inside
of the country. This is why, despite all of the great ballyhoo about the Iranian
involvement in Iraq, what do we pick up? Five Iranians? That isn't very much.
Horton: And they [the Iranians picked up] are at SCIRI headquarters.
And SCIRI is the most powerful American-backed faction in Iraq, so...
Horton: As long as we are talking about this, I would really appreciate
your perspective. I had just dismissed this [Iranians killing Americans in Iraq]
outright, particularly when last Friday [correction, Saturday
- editor] the Los Angeles Times reported that Condoleezza Rice, Robert
Gates and even Stephen Hadley had sent this intelligence back to the
cook because it wasn't good enough. I thought, when Steven Hadley is sending
intelligence back to the cook, there is something terribly wrong with it.
White: I've heard three versions of what happened last week, and I
don't know which one to believe.
One version it didn't have personalities attached to it save one of
the ones that you mentioned – said, "this isn't good enough, we need to
do it over right." It wasn't so much This is what I heard
It wasn't so much that the information wasn't good: it was the presentation;
the way it was being put forward; how much of it was going to be released; it
was not going to be very convincing. That was version one that I heard.
Version two was that there were people in the government, particularly in
the intelligence community, who did not want a briefing at all. Remember, the
briefing was supposed to be here in Washington, not out there [Iraq]. If it
had been done in Washington, it probably wouldn't have been anonymous and done
in this very squirrelly manner that was chosen for the delivery.
But [third] I cannot rule out a compromise between the people who wanted to
do it and the people who wanted no briefing at all. It was as if they were saying,
"Okay, you don't want it done so we'll do it out there [Iraq] and we'll
do it anonymously behind closed doors." I've seen strange compromises
in my time in government particularly over the release of intelligence...
Horton: Well, when you bring up that they didn't like the presentation,
it makes me wonder whether this was drawn up by CIA analysts or by Abram Shulsky
and his buddies in the Iranian Directorate
at the Pentagon.
White: Well, I don't know where it was drawn up, although I found it
so ironic, so odd that people weren't allowed to take pictures during the briefing,
when in fact, people on a large chat room that I participated in have sent me
a link to the entire briefing. I've got all the slides. [Laughter] I've
got the entire thing on a link, so that's kind of odd.
Anyway, I try to maintain a few contacts inside the government. I get the
impression that the one fact: the Quds force which is part of the Iranian
government supplying this stuff into Iraq is true. I did not want
to believe that because I, as you know from what you have read, am very concerned
about a major attack against Iran in the context of the nuclear infrastructure
there and the concerns of a possible nuclear weapons program there. I am the
last person who wants to add more to a possible case for war against Iran. But
the information I am getting is that that part [about Quds] was true.
Horton: Although again, I just want to reiterate: you did say, though,
that it remains to be shown that these are being used in vast numbers by the
Sunni insurgency against the Americans.
White: Well, the casualties that I saw were significant enough to demand
an explanation as to how they [munitions] were making their way to Sunni Arab
insurgents. I don't think Shia could have inflicted these casualties, since
the only casualties [inflicted by Shia] that were significant are old ones,
like you said.
But then we flip to the other side, and you have another view of that casualty
figure, which is that it isn't really that high given the aggregate of casualties
overall in this conflict. But in the context of these munitions, it's significant.
Horton: I'm Scott Horton and I'm talking with Wayne White. He's the
former head of the Iraq desk at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence
and Research. (That's their CIA, basically.)
I first found your name in this Reuters
article from January the 19th where, contrary to, I think, everything I
had read before, you said, "We are not talking just surgical strikes against
an array of targets inside Iran. We are talking about clearing a path to the
targets." The article is headlined, "U.S. Plans Envision Broad Attack on Iran."
I would like to ask you about that. You say the plan includes taking out much
of the Iranian air force, their Kilo submarines and anti-ship missiles. So this
proposal for air strikes is not just to hit the Natanz and Bushehr nuclear facilities,
but hit their entire infrastructure their military infrastructure.
Is that your understanding?
White: That is my understanding, and I am glad you didn't misread that
Reuters piece and repeat one glitch in it, which was that I just saw this [only
recently], or these [plans] are new.
The plan has been oozing out in a series of leaks since last winter. Sy Hersh
has been most aggressive in pointing out the fact that these plans exist, and
yes, as I understand it, we are talking a huge package of air strikes. We are
talking in the neighborhood of 1,500 combat sorties by aircraft and launches
of cruise missiles against various targets. This would involve tactical aircraft
in theater. It would involve a carrier battle group. It would probably also
involve strategic air assets coming from Diego
It would be very, very robust. Why? If the Iranians are hit, they are going
to hit back. They are not going to go crawl away and lick their wounds. That's
why you get into the effort to eliminate their retaliatory capabilities in the
This includes anti-ship missiles and surface to surface missiles that could
be used to attack commercial shipping or American Fleet elements, and by the
way there are a lot of these things. They are on the islands near the
Strait of Hormuz, on the land and on the coastal areas near the Strait of Hormuz.
This includes the Kilo class submarines, which could attack, although they
are not too hard to detect. You just can't let them operate.
Then Iran has something that I didn't bother mentioning because some people
think it is funny. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a very sizable fleet
of speed boats. I don't mean some small 12 foot thing that you water-ski behind.
We are talking about speedboats where some of them are 30 or 40 feet long
more like a World War II PT boat, or something larger. They can deliver missiles
and other weaponry, and they [the Iranians] have been training rigorously on
swarming tactics knowing full well that a lot of them are going to get shot
up before they reach the target. They have adopted swarming tactics against
merchant shipping or even our fleet elements that they would undoubtedly try
under this scenario. This would have to be dealt with.
Another thing that is not mentioned in that article is that Iran has a medium
range and ballistic missile arsenal. I cannot believe, if we were going in,
we wouldn't try to take out Iran's medium range missile fleet, mainly variants
of the Scud series, and her enhanced range Scuds that we call Scud-Cs. They
have several hundred of these, and they are not all in one place. We
would probably try to knock these out. Much of this is not only aimed at trying
to protect shipping and protect our own fleet from retaliation, but to protect
our Gulf Cooperation Council allies from retaliation.
Horton: So when UPI chief Arnaud
de Borchgrave says
he believes there is a plan in the works to hit as many as 700 targets, he's
low-balling? That's a low estimate to you?
White: Well, he may not be low-balling, actually 700 targets may me
be roughly accurate.
Horton: So 1,500 sorties may be redundancy to make sure that all the
targets are all destroyed.
White: Exactly. You have to be prepared to revisit targets. This is
where it gets very dangerous, this is where you really get down to where the
rubber meets the road. You are talking about a robust air campaign that could
stretch out over several days; I've heard even almost a week. Well, what are
the Iranians doing with the things that you have not eliminated on day one?
or day two? or day three? They know what to use or lose in a situation...
Horton: Or even at the end of the week. I spoke yesterday with
a former CIA agent, Philip Giraldi, who said,
"what are we going to do after a week? Are we going to say, 'Okay, we are
done bombing you, war's over now?'"
White: Oh, that's a great one. This is great, Scott. That's the problem.
There's no endgame to this thing. The presumption is: well, that's it. The Iranians
Horton: Well, Hersh has reported that he calls them the Kool-Aid
drinkers the neoconservatives who are pushing this policy still believe
(I don't know honestly? Cynically? It's your guess) that the Iranian
people will be bombed into overthrowing their government and installing an America-friendly
White: I know...
Horton: They will blame their government for getting them bombed.
White: We have a great historical precedence for this. When I was the
Iraq analyst, as opposed to a division chief, over the Iraq account, back from
1979-86, I covered the Iran-Iraq war. It started because a deluded dictator
thought he could punch the Iranians in the nose, grab territory, pound the Iranians
and not only force the Iranian regime to call it quits after he had overrun
significant amounts of territory along the border, in order to get it back
but also, so humiliate the Khomeini regime that it might actually be
Just the opposite happened. The Iranian public, swallowing hard in some cases
because they were not revolutionaries, swallowing hard and grimly determined,
rallied around the Iranian government and fought through 8 years of war against
Iraq. They would have fought for 10 years if the Iraqis hadn't acquired enough
weaponry to finally force the Iranians into a situation where they were losing
so much that they had to finally call it quits.
Horton: And that was at the cost of millions of Iranian lives, wasn't
White: Probably about a million. But we're talking about Saddam, who
started the war under the delusion that the Iranians would overthrow their government.
... The Iraqis suffered anywhere from 150 to 250 thousand casualties and saw
their huge foreign currency reserves completely depleted and racked up 80 billion
dollars in debt beyond that. Iraq became so debt-ridden that it led to other
developments, such as the Kuwait war when Saddam couldn't shake the Kuwaitis
down for money to help pay for all this.
Anyway, here we face the situation where somebody under this delusion went
into Iran, and we saw how Iranians reacted. Quite frankly, we are already seeing
shades of how the Iranians would react in the present. Iranians will do the
Horton: There was a massive rally just the other day in favor of their
nuclear program, right?
White: Exactly. If you hit them, then you have not hit the regime.
You have hit Iran. The Iranians are proud and nationalistic. They will rally
around their government. It would make that regime that much stronger. In fact,
as we have ratcheted up our anti-Iranian rhetoric, starting with the Axis of
Evil formulation, in the 2002
State of the Union Address, we have seen American popularity levels in Iran,
in very reputable polling, consistently falling and falling and falling. Believe
it or not, before that speech, a majority of Iranians had a positive view of
Horton: Well, I remember very well the day after September 11. There
was a candlelight vigil where a million people showed up in Tehran.
White: Yeah, you won't see that now.
Horton: No, certainly not.
White: No, in fact the Arab... Our numbers in the Arab world for many
many years have been very bad. This administration has made them much worse.
But the Iranian numbers were in stark contrast to Arab world numbers. They are
still better, but they are much worse than before that State of the Union with
the Axis of Evil comment. They are continuing to slide further and further down
because of developments since then.
Anybody who thinks that the Iranian regime is going to be overthrown as a
result of a major military attack by the U.S. is delusional.
Horton: And there is another possible consequence of this war. Hersh
reported a year ago in his article, "The Iran Plans," that one of
his sources said that if America bombs Iran, the south of Iraq will "go
up like a candle." Basra could be taken with "10
Imams and one sound truck."
White: Actually, I thought it was that an Iranian official said that
they [the Iranians] did take Basra with that [with 10 Imams and one sound truck]
talking about how they undermined the British rule in the south.
But whatever context that exists in, this is the penultimate problem with
attacking Iran, [even] if you succeeded in severely reducing their retaliatory
options in the Gulf. In other words, if they [Iran] didn't have much to fire
back with even after day one – and I doubt that all that does is make
Iran look more to Iraq as the place for payback. You would have already enraged
Shia in Iraq over Iran being attacked, who probably would engage in anti-American
and anti-British acts without any direction whatsoever. You might even have
the Maliki Government in very severe straights with respect to its credibility
if it continued to maintain the relationship it has now with the U.S.
But worse, whereas there probably are almost no Iranian Revolutionary Guard
elements in Iraq for the reasons that we discussed before, the Iranians could
pour hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force elements into
Iraq and take revenge right there. There well may be plenty of Shia who would
be delighted to hide them and guide them to targets. We could suffer cruelly
in Iraq. The place is a mess already and an attack on Iran would make it a lot
Horton: Well, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim,
the head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI] and Moqtada
al-Sadr have both said that if America attacks Iran, they will go to war
in the south, and again, that [SCIRI] is the [same] Government of Iraq that
we are training and equipping every day.
White: Well, Sadr's people I'm sure would... There are fractures in
his organization. It is hard to talk about that organization as a monolithic.
I'm not saying you did, but some people do. But even if Sadr tried to sit
on them knowing that he and others might suffer by the U.S. in such a scenario,
there are elements of the Mahdi Army, which would absolutely lunge out at us.
There would be no question about that at all.
Horton: I'm sure you are aware that Newsweek
is reporting they believe a third aircraft carrier strike force is on its way.
In the same or preceding paragraph, they quote a former Bush administration
national security officer, Hillary Mann, saying she believes that the policy
is to provoke and provoke and provoke until Iran finally hits us [the U.S.].
Then we can act like it is self-defense when we initiate this war.
Does that sound plausible to you?
White: The more you send out there, the more danger there is of miscalculation.
Some colleagues of mine have actually been very concerned and have been writing
about that. I am too.
I think the Iranians will do everything they can to sit on their hands to
avoid that provocation.
What I worry about is that the more you build up forces out there in the region,
the more we are proceeding with our plan to go after the Iranians. My feeling
is that this president believes that only he would do this [bomb Iran].
In other words, come 20 January, 2009, the window will close [on chance to bomb
Iran] and he would have no faith that a Republican or a Democratic successor
would to be a little vernacular oriented have the balls to go
through with this kind of thing [attacking Iran], something that I might characterize
as having the stupidity of going through with this.
He feels it is his mission. It's on his watch. He takes very seriously
we are told the existential threat to Israel that an Iranian nuclear
weapons capability would pose.
Horton: And again, this is Wayne White. He is the former head of the
Iraq Desk at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Obviously
very well informed about Iran as well.
Do you believe that they [Iran] are anywhere near the ability to create a
White: No. Everyone seems to be pretty well on the same page except
the Israelis. The Israelis, when I was in government, consistently hyped...
If we thought something was going to develop within 3 or 4 years, they thought
it was 1 or 2, [especially] if it was an Arab weapons system. They [Israel]
are out there. It's in their face. They have to be more pessimistic and prepare
for the worst.
But no, I think most of us are on the same page with respect to Iran. We think
Iran is 3-8 years away from acquiring a nuclear weapon. There is time to play
The trouble is, if this president is as determined as I fear he might be to
get this job done figuring no one else will the 3-8 years don't
matter to him. The only thing that matters is the remainder of his Presidency.
He feels he has that much time to get the job [take out Iran] done.
Horton: I'll let you go here, but I wanted to ask you quickly.
Silverstein's thing at Harper's, you are the most optimistic person.
You say that perhaps the Iranians will go ahead and suspend their enrichment
before the February 21st United Nations deadline and maybe this thing [war]
can be avoided.
As an adjunct question to that, I have the idea, which I would like to believe
in, that George Bush is basically doing his best Richard Nixon impression, which
is to send Henry Kissinger out to tell them [Iran] that he [Bush] is drunk,
crazy and ready to use nukes so that they [Iran] will back down. The good cop
bad cop kind of thing, and they [the Bush administration] really don't
want a violent solution to this.
What do you think?
White: I think there is a little bit to it. It's funny, I've never
been described as an optimist before.
Horton: Well, on Ken Silverstein's page, you are the most hopeful one
White: [Laughter] Well, the Iranians are getting more fearful
of what is to come.
Ahmadinejad, who has enabled the U.S. to rally significant sectors of world
opinion and government toward the taking of a tougher stance against Iran, has
been a catastrophe for his country. He has come, just in the last few weeks,
under a tremendous amount of internal criticism, most notably from the most
conservative regime-affiliated newspaper in the country. People don't realize
that Ahmadinejad is the president in a very jury rigged government inside of
Iran. He is not in charge. He would not have his finger on the button. The decision
to stop enrichment for negotiations is not his call. It is the call of the supreme
leader, Khamenei, and his inner circle.
But I would not eliminate the fact that the Iranians might do that [halt enrichment],
because they have nothing to lose. A little face, yes, but suspending the little
bit of enrichment they are now doing for a few months [to allow] for talks is
more the symbolic gesture than anything else.
In fact, I was sorry to see the suspension of enrichment get into the UN resolution,
because people really do need to sit down and talk. Now there is no way for
the Europeans or the UN to talk to the Iranians unless Iran suspends its enrichment.
It has become a major obstacle to negotiation even though it's only of symbolic
value at this point. The enrichment, the number of cascades and centrifuges
they have working, are minimal.
Horton: Right, and they have suspended their enrichment in the past
when they were dealing with the E-3. They only started again a year ago, right?
Horton: One last question. An article in the Asia Times suggests
that the more [people like] you and I talk about the disastrous consequences
of an American attack on Iran forget about influencing Bush and Cheney
since they have already discounted our concerns the more we are making
it seem to Khamenei that Bush might be able to push his luck, when in reality
the U.S. is in no position to do anything. We might actually be making war more
White: Well, I can't rule out any of that. That's like the argument
I hear all the time that any criticism of the administration's policy in the
States means we are hurting the troops in the field and encouraging our enemies
this kind of stuff. History tells us that by the time you are getting
such criticism, the situation on the ground has already degraded so far that
you need to take a second look at it.
White: So, it is possible, but I don't think so.
I think the Iranians are not looking at the critics. They are looking at Bush.
I really am hoping that he scares them into suspending enrichment, because if
that doesn't happen, this thing could get very, very ugly along the lines we
have been discussing.
Horton: Everybody, Wayne White, he is an adjunct scholar at the Middle
East Institute, former deputy directory of the State Department's Bureau of
Intelligence and Research, Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia.
Thank you again.
White: OK, Bye-bye.
(Transcribed and edited by Chris Meyer)