Archive: Iran

A Secret Afghanistan Mission Prepares for War with Iran

Those predicting war with Iran or some Bush-Cheney October surprise attack on Tehran are constantly looking for signs of military preparations: a B-52 bomber that mistakenly takes off from North Dakota with nuclear-armed cruise missiles; a second or third aircraft...

By William M. Arkin | May 8, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (84)

The Iran Consensus Grows More Dangerous

As I've noted, the three candidates share a consensus, backed by the national security community, that Iran is the new strategic threat. It is radical, anti-American, anti-Israel, terrorist-supporting, nuclear-armed and provocative. But just because this is the consensus view does...

By William M. Arkin | May 7, 2008; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (35)

War with Iran? That Will Be for the Next President

There was a moment in April 1990, when Saddam Hussein was appearing on the covers of all of the news magazines, threatening to "burn" half of Israel and brandishing new chemical and biological weapons, when we should have known that...

By William M. Arkin | May 1, 2008; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (62)

King David at the Helm

Gen. David H. Petraeus -- "King David," the man behind the surge, the author of the new counter-insurgency strategy, the savior of Iraq, the photogenic Washington star -- has been nominated to be the top U.S. commander in the Middle...

By William M. Arkin | April 24, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (92)

On Iraq, Forging 'Stability' Is Everyone's Game

A complicated debate over Iraq gets even more complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 31, 2008; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (92)

Iraq Is All About Iran? Not!

Evaluating the speeches on the five-year anniversary of the war.

By William M. Arkin | March 20, 2008; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (54)

Six Signs the U.S. Is Not Headed for War in Iran

The situation is complicated, but not that complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 14, 2008; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (222)

Petraeus Wins in Iraq Battle, Kills Iran War

The complicated relationship between Fallon and his 'subordinate.'

By William M. Arkin | March 13, 2008; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (226)

Commander's Resignation Shows a New Era of Micromanagement

The story behind William Fallon's resignation is complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 12, 2008; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (169)

The Military and the Next President

The civilian-military relationship is complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 6, 2008; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (18)

Iran and Iraq: A Healthy Friendship

Relations between the two countries are complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 3, 2008; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (15)

Cynical Outrage

The administration kept quiet about Iranian harassment of U.S. Navy ships -- until the president happened to be visiting the Persian Gulf.

By William M. Arkin | January 14, 2008; 08:39 AM ET | Comments (140)

Lies and Videotape

Clumsy fabrications are part of both the American and Iranian videos of an incident in the Strait of Hormuz Sunday. But that doesn't take away from what happened.

By William M. Arkin | January 11, 2008; 07:52 AM ET | Comments (217)

What to Make of the Iranian Videotape

Communication between the Iranian and U.S. navies may actually be fruitful.

By William M. Arkin | January 10, 2008; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (101)

The Bush Administration Overreacts

The the Iranian boats that harassed U.S. naval ships on Sunday weren't looking for a fight. The administration shouldn't give them one.

By William M. Arkin | January 9, 2008; 08:17 AM ET | Comments (186)

Dire Straits

As long as there's no dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, even innocuous interactions can quickly become dangerous.

By William M. Arkin | January 8, 2008; 06:54 AM ET | Comments (51)

Russia Lends a Hand

Russian-Iranian cooperation on a new air defense system could improve security in the region. Cooperation on offensive military equipment is another story.

By William M. Arkin | December 27, 2007; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (19)

Refining the Preemption Doctrine

The U.S. and Turkey are dancing around the fact of their cooperation in bombing Iraq. But let's face it: We have entered an era where preemption, particularly in the name of fighting terrorism, is seen as not only acceptable but required.

By William M. Arkin | December 20, 2007; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (90)

No End for 'Gulf War Syndrome'

The Pentagon has yet to find a U.S. soldier who became sick from depleted uranium exposure. That should be good news for Gulf War veterans and their families. But the issue is unlikely to go away.

By William M. Arkin | December 14, 2007; 08:06 AM ET | Comments (32)

What to Do About Iran

The new national intelligence estimate has deflated any push, on either side, toward military confrontation. Here are ten ways to take advantage of the moment.

By William M. Arkin | December 13, 2007; 05:00 AM ET | Comments (213)

The Gulf in the Gulf

The new intelligence estimate on Iran hasn't toned down Bush administration rhetoric -- or improved our understanding of the dynamics in that region.

By William M. Arkin | December 10, 2007; 08:33 AM ET | Comments (77)

The Special Relationship

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is shaping up to have profound effects on U.S.-Israeli relations.

By William M. Arkin | December 7, 2007; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (36)

Iran's Intentions are Still the Great Unknown

The reassurances that can be inferred from the new national intelligence estimate are being vastly overstated.

By William M. Arkin | December 5, 2007; 08:22 AM ET | Comments (63)

Iran Waits

The Iran-war scare is over for now and the World War III camp has been sharply rebuked. But everything could change in the next administration.

By William M. Arkin | December 4, 2007; 07:38 AM ET | Comments (32)

The Sun In Their Eyes Strategy

One could focus on recent Chinese snubs and provocative Russian flights as harbingers of confrontation. But making excuses for them is more productive than gunboat diplomacy.

By William M. Arkin | November 28, 2007; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (29)

War with Iran is a Matter of Words

The nuclear-powered USS Enterprise carrier strike group just concluded a multi-unit, intense exercise that included two stealthy Tomahawk cruise missile carrying attack submarines!

By William M. Arkin | November 16, 2007; 08:15 AM ET | Comments (19)

Don't Let Nukes Become Musharraf's Excuse

Loose nukes in the hands of terrorists would be a catastrophe. But it's wrong to suggest that the Pakistani government crackdown was in any way justified.

By William M. Arkin | November 14, 2007; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (50)

Bush Is Stuck on Iran

The president has to stop talking about how Tehran will spark World War III.

By William M. Arkin | November 8, 2007; 08:24 AM ET | Comments (68)

Keep It Down

We are not going to war with Iran -- that is, if the presidential candidates can stop talking about it.

By William M. Arkin | November 2, 2007; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (33)

Enough About Iran's Nukes

The nuclearization of Iran is preeminent pseudo-issue of this presidential campaign -- and it's distracting from more pressing dangers.

By William M. Arkin | October 31, 2007; 08:41 AM ET | Comments (46)

The World Conflict Risk of the Week

A Turkish attack on Kurds in Iraq could have a dangerous domino effect.

By William M. Arkin | October 18, 2007; 07:47 AM ET | Comments (17)

If Things Are Going so Well, Why War?

I don't mean to pick on my dear friend and onetime employer Seymour Hersh, but enough already with imminent war with Iran.

By William M. Arkin | October 9, 2007; 08:14 AM ET | Comments (20)

Israel Attacks Syria and Everyone Wins

Two weeks ago, by many accounts, Israeli aircraft penetrated deep into Syrian airspace and bombed a target. What's surprising is the calm that's followed.

By William M. Arkin | September 19, 2007; 09:17 AM ET | Comments (33)

Bombs Not To Get Worked Up About

Russia's new "father of all bombs" and recent bomber missions over the Pacific are best seen as bids for attention.

By William M. Arkin | September 17, 2007; 07:11 AM ET | Comments (21)

A Counterterrorism Celebration

While this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting has gained a lot of press, another Asian confab, celebrating cooperation of a different sort, has gone under the radar.

By William M. Arkin | September 7, 2007; 06:59 AM ET | Comments (9)

Obama and Clinton Go Nuclear

Senators Clinton and Obama had another spat last week, this time over U.S. nuclear weapons policy. In her zeal to sound presidential, however, Clinton promoted the wrong option.

By William M. Arkin | August 13, 2007; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (36)

The Government's FAQ on WMD and NBC Terrorism

It has a sober subject (terrorism and nuclear weapons) and an excess of acronyms, but a new report is basically a plea for more government money.

By William M. Arkin | August 10, 2007; 07:29 AM ET | Comments (15)

Middle East Alliance 2.0

There has been no official talk of a new U.S. military alliance in the Middle East. But my sense is that the Bush administration may be looking to solidify one before it leaves office.

By William M. Arkin | August 1, 2007; 07:54 AM ET | Comments (29)

A New Mideast Military Alliance?

The United States has now officially unveiled its $60-billion-plus arms package for the Middle East. The arms increasingly look like the sweeteners for a new and more formalized American-led alliance of like-minded "moderate" regimes, a kind of Middle East version...

By William M. Arkin | July 31, 2007; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (62)

President Cheney and Iran

The blogosphere's dangerous speculation about the vice president's plans for war with Iran.

By William M. Arkin | July 23, 2007; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (35)

Iran in Iraq

Promoters of the Iraq war and the hyper-martial are increasingly warning that Iran is responsible for killing U.S. soldiers, training Iraqi insurgents and supplying deadly ordnance to opponents of U.S. military forces in Iraq. Iran even has agents on the...

By William M. Arkin | July 6, 2007; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (40)

Playing Putin's Game

Russian President Vladimir Putin -- like President Bush, I'll call him Vladimir -- pulled a rabbit out of a hat yesterday, suggesting that the United States and Russia build a joint missile defense system in the former Soviet republic of...

By William M. Arkin | June 8, 2007; 07:37 AM ET | Comments (94)

Nuking Iran: The Republican Agenda?

At the Republican debate last night, almost all the candidates said that they would not rule out a nuclear attack on Iran as a means to prevent it from getting its own nuclear weapons. Only one of these knuckleheads would...

By William M. Arkin | June 6, 2007; 06:48 AM ET | Comments (281)

Live by the Cold War, Die by the Cold War

Just because Russia is against something doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea. And placing missile defenses in Eastern Europe to defend ourselves against Iran, which Russia opposes, is a bad idea -- not because it offends Russia or could...

By William M. Arkin | June 5, 2007; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (61)

Eavesdropping on Rice and Cheney on Iran

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went out of her way last week to "make clear" to the world -- including the vice president of the United States -- that the U.S. is not preparing for war against Iran. "The president...

By William M. Arkin | June 4, 2007; 07:32 AM ET | Comments (13)

Dumboat Diplomacy

On the day that the International Atomic Energy Agency released a new report on Iran's uranium enrichment efforts, the United States just happened to have two aircraft carriers and seven ships conducting "exercises" in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian defense...

By William M. Arkin | May 24, 2007; 07:48 AM ET | Comments (182)

Dick Cheney's Policy of Retreat

Last week Vice President Dick Cheney visited sailors aboard the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, and the headlines reported yet another broadside against Iran. Since I've been hearing from Pentagon sources that Iran war planning...

By William M. Arkin | May 15, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Dropping Bombs on Iran

The conspiracy theorists will pick up on the news out of San Diego that the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier battle group will sail Monday for the Persian Gulf as meaning WAR with Iran. A third aircraft carrier does sound provocative...

By William M. Arkin | March 30, 2007; 09:22 AM ET | Comments (115)

Shock and Awe Worked, God Help Us

That is airpower's continuing allure: military engagement with no commitment.

By William M. Arkin | March 19, 2007; 07:45 AM ET | Comments (58)

An Admiral Takes the Helm in the Middle East

Adm. William J. Fallon takes over as Commander of U.S. Central Command today, with headquarters in Tampa, Florida. I've written a couple of articles about Fallon, about his views on Iran and his legacy in Asia as U.S. Pacific commander....

By William M. Arkin | March 16, 2007; 08:21 AM ET | Comments (10)

Worse Than War Plans for Iran: Our Military's Institutional Weaknesses

Imminent unilateral conflict with Iran continues to stir up the Internet and foreign news Web sites, so it might come as good news to some that the admiral slated to take over command of U.S. military forces in the Middle...

By William M. Arkin | March 6, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (24)

Diplomacy is Now Us?

All of reasonable Washington is gaga over the news that the United States will sit down with Iranian and Syrian officials in "regional security" talks on Iraq, the highest-level contact in more than two years -- a story broken by...

By William M. Arkin | March 1, 2007; 08:37 AM ET | Comments (59)

In War Planning for Iran, Truth Is the Linchpin

Kuwait. Every American adventure overseas has a geographic linchpin, an essential country that the United States needs to go to war. In the case of Iraq 2003, it was Kuwait. Without Kuwaiti bases, the United States would not have been...

By William M. Arkin | February 26, 2007; 08:34 AM ET | Comments (62)

Plans, But No Intention for War With Iran

Earlier this week, the BBC carried a report that said it had learned "U.S. contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure." The BBC also said "diplomatic sources" told...

By William M. Arkin | February 23, 2007; 08:38 AM ET | Comments (123)

New Middle East Commander Correctly Stays in His Lane

Adm. William J. Fallon, the incoming commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East, showed a bit of his Navy biases yesterday, speaking of Iran's ability to deny U.S. access to Persian Gulf oil. Fallon also described the Horn...

By William M. Arkin | January 31, 2007; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (57)

All Over the Globe, the New, New Strategy is to Pile On

There's some interesting geo-political tidying up going on in the Bush administration, some new tough words about the world that seems part of the new strategy for Iraq and a scene-setter intended to launch the President's State of the Union...

By William M. Arkin | January 17, 2007; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (35)

Secretary Rice on the Threat to Iran

On the Today Show this morning, Matt Lauer asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice if the President was saying last night that military action inside Iran and Syria is a possibility. Here is the exchange: SECRETARY RICE: The President is...

By William M. Arkin | January 11, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (144)

Predictions for 2007, and one surprising death

A surge of troops in Iraq now a foregone conclusion -- the Democratic Congress will prove to have neither the courage nor vision to stop the President -- what does 2007 hold out for national security? I've made some predictions,...

By William M. Arkin | January 4, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

2007 from the War Room

To fully understand President Bush's decision to surge forces into Iraq and stick with the mission, to understand that it is not just stubbornness or some grand vision of a greater good being pursued, one has to look at the...

By William M. Arkin | January 3, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (22)

Can Iran and Syria Save Us, and What Will They Want?

The bipartisan Iraq Study Group is reported favoring dialogue and former Secretary of State James Baker reportedly has met with Iranian and Syrian officials. Speaking in Chicago this week, Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) suggests improved diplomacy with Iran and Syria....

By William M. Arkin | November 21, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (36)

Dealing with the Devil

Last week in Beirut, I was amused by posters of Hugo Chavez, fists in the air, congratulating Hezbollah on their “divine victory” over Israel.Two weeks earlier, Chavez was in Syria, exhorting his new-found friends to “resist together American imperialist aggression."Yesterday,...

By William M. Arkin | September 21, 2006; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (131)

Paving the Way to War with Iran

U.S. intelligence -- duh -- lacks the ability to assess Iran's nuclear program and intentions, a House Intelligence Committee report says. The op-ed pages are filled with hard-line and dovish advice on what to do about Iran. President Bush...

By William M. Arkin | August 24, 2006; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (186)

War by September? Not Likely.

In the department of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks wrote a flimsy and inflammatory article yesterday that war with Iran will start "between now and September." The war "may set the...

By William M. Arkin | May 1, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (69)

The Nuclear Option and Iran

What does "all options" mean? President Bush yesterday refused to rule out a U.S. nuclear strike to prevent Iran from developing its own nuclear weapons, saying that "all options are on the table." It is a confusing and harmful ambiguity...

By William M. Arkin | April 19, 2006; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (48)

Rumsfeld's Fast Iran Planning

More "wild speculation" about Iran war planning, specifically CONPLAN 1025, which I believe is the overall name for the war plan positing major combat operations against Iran. In response to my Sunday piece, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman predictably chose wittiness...

By William M. Arkin | April 18, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (100)

Rumsfeld and Iran

I tend to agree with the Pentagon on a narrow point. There are 8,000 retired generals and admirals out there and a dozen - or even a few dozen - belatedly criticizing Donald Rumsfeld does not constitute a groundswell. Still,...

By William M. Arkin | April 17, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (32)

Despite Denials, U.S. Plans for Iran War

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has been conducting theater campaign analysis for a full scale war with Iran since at least May 2003, responding to Pentagon directions to prepare for potential operations in the "near term."  The campaign analysis, called...

By William M. Arkin | April 13, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (127)

Iran: Send in the Marines?

Less than three weeks after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in central Baghdad in April 2003, the U.S. military finished campaign planning to invade Iran.  Of course, the word finished is a bit misleading. The contingency planning process never really...

By William M. Arkin | April 12, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (82)

Wild Speculation and the Nuclear Option

After Shi'ite elements in Basra declare their independence from Baghdad, Iran decides to seek protection for their religious kinsmen. No one can quite remember how Iran went from a country that had invaded no one in more than 100 years...

By William M. Arkin | April 11, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (21)

Goldilocks and Iran

I've been stewing over two articles this weekend that purport to be about U.S. government planning for a potential war with Iran, one a front page article in this newspaper yesterday and the other a long New Yorker piece by...

By William M. Arkin | April 10, 2006; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (67)


© 2007 The Washington Post Company