Earlier this week, Condoleeza Rice called Iran one of "six outposts of tyranny," while President Bush refused to rule out a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations. Hawkish chatter on the issue has picked up alongside Seymour Hersh's telling exposé out this week regarding secret U.S. military operations allegedly taking place inside Iran.
Now, Vice President Dick Cheney is openly speculating that if Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, Israel might take matters into its own hands. Cheney's suggestion of an Israeli strike without American approval notches up the administration's brinksmanship over Iran's nuclear program -- Israel has floated the idea for some time, but this is as close as the administration has come to rubber-stamping it publicly. Cheney chose to buttress the administration's posture on Iran during an appearance yesterday with Mrs. Cheney on the talk radio show "Imus in the Morning."
After questioning Cheney about diplomatic options, host Don Imus asked whether the administration might opt for a military strike. From the show's transcript:
IMUS: Why don't we make Israel do it?
CHENEY: Well, one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards. We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it. And certainly in the case of the Iranian situation, I think everybody would be best suited by or best treated and dealt with if we could deal with it diplomatically.
IMUS: We already have a war in the Middle East, don't we?
CHENEY: Well, we do in Iraq certainly.