Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
In an interview posted on the website of the London Telegraph, John Bolton, one of the most belligerent of the neocon war hawks, predicted that Israel will attack Iran sometime after the U.S. presidential elections on November 4 and before January 21, the day George Bush and Dick Cheney leave office.
Attacking Iran has long been a neocon objective. Last February, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh revealed that Dick Cheney had secret plans for creating an "open confrontation" with Iran, and that he had the Pentagon ready to start bombing with 24 hours of a signal from the White House. At the same time, the Times of London reported that top U.S. military brass had let it be known they would resign if Cheney launched the attack.
Public outcry generated by the Hersh article and other reports quickly dampened the fervor for attacking Tehran. Two months after the report, however, John McCain ramped up the bellicose rhetoric when, during a campaign stop in South Carolina in April 2007, he made a joke about bombing Iran by singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys song, "Barbara Ann."
John Bolton now believes Bush and Cheney have succumbed to political reality and will not pursue the attack using U.S. forces. According to the Telegraph, Bolton said, "It's clear that the administration has essentially given up that possibility... I don't think it's serious any more. If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I thought it was a real possibility. I just don't think it's in the cards."
About his suggested timeframe for the attack of November to January, Bolton said, "The Israelis have one eye on the calendar because of the pace at which the Iranians are proceeding both to develop their nuclear weapons capability and to do things like increase their defenses by buying new Russian anti-aircraft systems and further harden the nuclear installations.
"They're also obviously looking at the American election calendar. My judgment is they would not want to do anything before our election because there's no telling what impact it could have on the election."
Bolton suggests that Israel will attack Iran on Bush's watch because the Israelis fear that if Barack Obama is elected, he would stand in the way of such of an attack, because he has signaled he would seek negotiations with Iran before attacking. "An Obama victory would rule out military action by the Israelis because they would fear the consequences given the approach Obama has taken to foreign policy," Bolton said in the interview.
About the approach of John McCain, Bolton, a McCain supporter, said, "With McCain they might still be looking at a delay. Given that time is on Iran's side, I think the argument for military action is sooner rather than later absent some other development."
Bush named Bolton as his UN ambassador as a recess appointment in 2005, but he only served a year because Democrats in the Senate refused to confirm him.