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US DNI: Iran May Launch Attacks on American Soil

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has told the Senate that factions within Iran’s leadership — which might or might not include the Supreme Leader — might seek to launch direct attacks on Americans in the US or abroad.

This is not the first though it is the most authoritative voice we’ve heard making this point. Via Meadia is at least as concerned about free lancers as about a top down decision to strike. Seasoned foreign policy hands recall the chaos during the hostage crisis when various Iranian factions took actions or stands regarding the hostages in the name of the government as part of an internal struggle for power.  In Iran, the big mullahs don’t always know what the little mullahs get up to behind their backs.Radical factions can and will take actions that force the hand of the leadership — just as Japan’s armed forces forced the hand of civilian leaders by acting on their own in the 1930s.

Iran’s leaders are not united on how to proceed in the face of international sanctions and (possibly American- and Israeli-led) attacks on its nuclear scientists. The alleged attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US not long ago might not be the only plan of its kind. As the NYT reports, “Mr. Clapper said that the suspected assassination plot ‘shows that some Iranian officials — probably including supreme leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.'”

Some leaders in Tehran are rasher than others, more willing to bring the fight to the US. These rogues have their supporters. As the pressure to stop the nuclear program builds, and Iran’s situation becomes less favorable in the Middle East, these rogues might take matters into their own hands. (This pattern of factionalism and lack of control is one of the many reasons that so many people around the world are so concerned about the Iranian nuclear program.)

If rogue elements do launch provocations — attacks on US shipping in the Gulf, terror strikes on US soil or against US or allied targets elsewhere — the US and the world will have little choice but to hold the big mullahs responsible for what the little ones have done. The threat is both real and hard to quantify; it’s good to know that the DNI is on the case.

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  • Kris

    “If rogue elements do launch provocations — attacks on US shipping in the Gulf, terror strikes on US soil or against US or allied targets elsewhere”

    … then I am not sure that Washington will be able to control the officers of the Abraham Lincoln battlegroup. Unfortunate, that, but you know how it is: those military types tend to be hot-headed, and it’s difficult to effectively control them when they’re so far away… Deeply lamentable. Observe my sad face.

  • Lexington Green

    If they attack the continental USA the American people will demand a massive, Jacksonian response. If Mr. Obama were to fail to respond with shocking, exemplary devastation he will lose the election. For that reason alone, he will do it. If the Iranians are that stupid they will pay a price that will be remembered for a very long time.

  • Some Sock Puppet

    Yeah, I’m with Lexington Green. Any attack on US soil (Apparently, we’re willing to forget embassys in that calculus, as they’re far away and we don’t see them) will lead to the absolute annhilation of that region.

    I’m speaking anecdotally, but there are a lot of war weary people here that will still unreservedly back a full scale war on Iran if they attack US soil.

    And I, at least, will not accept an attack by their proxies as removed from Iran. If any attack occurs, they must be dealt with immeadiately and harshly.

    Maybe my memory is bad, but no country that conducts attacks on US soil has stood for long. (Britain?)

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