The New Yorker has an interesting article about The Iran Plans (via bb) which are currently being mulled over by the Bush administration. The plans appear to consist of massive air strikes an strategic facilities, but without significant ground operations. Those air strikes would include the deployment of tactical nuclear arms. It is assumed that such attacks would destabilise the regime and lead to a change, which is said to be the ultimate goal.
I am not sure what to make of this. While such strikes would still be in line with my prediction, I'd prefer to think that the article is part of an ongoing war of words to test the other side's resolve. I really cannot imagine that a replay of the WMD game used in the Iraq case would work this time round, short of a convincing smoking gun. First, the arrangement with India has virtually vaporised any remaining fragile legitimacy of the NPT regime. Then there's the Cry Wolf lack of credibility which ought to make parliaments much more difficult to convince. I'd be prepared to wager some money on Mr. Blair's political survival if he tried to bring the UK to join the alliance of the willing again. I cannot see that happening. And in the current situation, I wouldn't even want to start thinking about the wider strategic implications of such a move, even without using nuclear arms.
Thus, if it is war of words, it is not really credible and thus dilettantic. On the other hand, knowing the current administration's dilettantism, combined with its messianic thrust, the risk of such a move being put into action might seem to be very real indeed, especially since the administration has nothing much to lose in terms of reputation. So, is there a method to the madness, one wonders?