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Monday, February 12, 2007

Newsweek: Bush Looking For An Excuse To Attack Iran

Some Bush admninistration advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran, at least one former White House official tells Newsweek.

"They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs, in the February 19 cover story,"The Hidden War With Iran" (on newsstands Monday, February 12).

Even if her fears are overwrought, the fact remains that thelong standing war of words between Washington and Tehran is edging toward something more dangerous. A second Navy carrier group is steaming toward the Persian Gulf, and Newsweek has learned that a third carrier will likely follow.

Iran shot off a few missiles in those same tense waters last week, in a highly publicized test. On the chaotic battleground of Iraq, a hidden war between the United States and Iran is already unfolding. Iran has blamed the kidnapping of one of its diplomats on Feb. 4 on Iraqis linked to U.S. forces. Is conflict inevitable? U.S. officials insist they have no intention of provoking or otherwise starting a war with Iran. But former secretary of state Colin Powell tells Newsweek that he thinks President Bush never had any intention of negotiating with the mullahs.

"My position in the remaining year and half [of my term] was that we ought to find ways to restart talks with Iran," Powell tells Newsweek. "But there was a reluctance on the part of the president to do that."

He angrily rejects the administration's characterization of efforts by him and his top aides to deal with Tehran and Damascus as failures. "I don't like the administration saying, 'Powell went, [deputy Richard] Armitage went...and [they] got nothing.' We got plenty," he says. "You can't negotiate when you tell the other side, 'Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start'."

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