A second American aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf on Tuesday as the Pentagon ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the planning is being driven by what one officer called the "increasingly hostile role" Iran is playing in Iraq - smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops.
"What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and -women inside Iraq," said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
These accusations are not new. In fact, our government has been caught overstating them several times. But who exactly is doing the killing? The Badr brigade, trained by Iran, is now integrated into the Iraqi security forces. Does that mean that the government of the country we are trying to prop up is paying Iranian-backed troops to kill us? If so, then the right answer is to stop propping up a government that welcomes Iranian trained militias into their ranks.
U.S. officials are also concerned by Iranian harassment of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf as well as Iran's still growing nuclear program. New pictures of Iran's uranium enrichment plant show the country's defense minister in the background, as if deliberately mocking a recent finding by U.S. intelligence that Iran had ceased work on a nuclear weapon.
What basis in reality is that? So what if the Iranian defense minister appears in a picture. Is that proof they have an arms program? Or the capability to see one through to fruition? If that is what constitutes proof, then expect our allies to undercut our efforts and mock us behind our backs.
No attacks are imminent and the last thing the Pentagon wants is another war, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has warned Iran not to assume the U.S. military can't strike.
"I have reserve capability, in particular our Navy and our Air Force so it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," Mullen said.
Targets would include everything from the plants where weapons are made to the headquarters of the organization known as the Quds Force which directs operations in Iraq. Later this week Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to confront the Iranians with evidence of their meddling and demand a halt.
If that doesn't produce results, the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum that would tell the Iranians to knock it off - or else.
"Reserve capability?" What in God's name does that add up to? Do we have reserve capability in the Army? Of course we don't--and in any significant attack on Iran, it won't be the Navy and the Air Force that sees the battle up close--it'll be the Army that will have to put boots on the ground the ensure those facilities are destroyed and it'll be the Army in Iraq that has to withstand a wave of Shiite attacks by outraged groups.
And the summation of the childishness and the ridiculousness of this country's foreign policy is contained in the phrase "knock it off or else."
Can you believe that? Can you believe that we would tell another country such a thing? That our position would be a schoolyard taunt between bullies with no maturity?
We're updating the old adage--if you're not embarrassed by your government right now, you're definitely not paying attention.