Devotees of the ageless Yes Prime Minister will be delighted to see the State Department displaying traditional Foreign Office craftsmanship.
State (my emphasis):
US contingency planning for military action against Iran’s nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former US intelligence analyst said on Friday.
“I’ve seen some of the planning … You’re not talking about a surgical strike,” said Wayne White, who was a top Middle East analyst for the State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research until March 2005.
“You’re talking about a war against Iran” that likely would destabilize the Middle East for years, White told the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank…
Wayne’s backup filed an alternative plea (my emphasis again):
Middle East expert Kenneth Katzman argued “Iran’s ascendancy is not only manageable but reversible” if one understands the Islamic republic’s many vulnerabilities.
The economy is mismanaged and “quite primitive,” exporting almost nothing except oil, he said.Also, Iran’s oil production capacity is fast declining and in terms of conventional military power…
“Iran is a virtual non-entity,” Katzman added.
No Foreign Office mandarin would ever be called Wayne, but he might be a Kenneth. And he’d never reveal military secrets in public – preferring to do so do in private (to the Russians).
Yet Wayne and Kenneth are following the playbook nicely described in the Yes Prime Minister parody of the Foreign Office “A Victory For Democracy”:
Jim (Prime Minister): Apparently the White House thinks that the Foreign Office is full of pinkos and traitors.
Bernard (his Civil Service aide): Not it’s not, well not full.
Sir Richard (Foreign Office Chief): Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis. In Stage One we say that nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Two, we say something may be going to happen but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard: Stage Three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we can do.
Sir Humphrey: Stage Four, we say maybe there is something we could have done, but it’s too late now.
Readers will note Wayne is arguing Stage Three – he’ll switch to Stage Four after Iran nukes Israel. And, just in case, Kenneth is arguing Stage One.
All in all, a fine piece of American pinko/traitor craftsmanship.