An overt Israeli and/or U.S. attack on Iran is not a foregone conclusion, not yet. The ( thinly-traded) Intrade market-assessed odds at this time are about 1.7 to 1 against it by September 2012 and about 1 to 1 (or 50–50) by December. These odds change all the time. The September odds were 4–1 in late January. They've jumped in February.
What we are now experiencing is another step in a concerted propaganda campaign initiated and conducted on purpose by the U.S. government. The major media are the conduit for it. This part of the campaign continues what began several weeks ago. Its major aims are to condition Americans to accept war against Iran and to cower the Iranians into submission. There are three other related aims. One is to make it seem as if the newly-imposed sanctions are more acceptable than war so that they receive support. Second is to make it seem as if the Iranians are "forcing" war on the U.S. by being recalcitrant and resisting sanctions. The idea is to make it seem as if aggression against Iran is a last resort being reluctantly instigated by the U.S. and/or Israel. Third is to bring Europe along into the war support so that the action will appear to be international.
The content of this campaign is mainly intentional leaks of "beliefs" of various government officials that the sanctions won't work and that an attack will be necessary. Specific dates are now being mentioned. A news report in this vein is here. In addition, some British officials have joined in, such as can be read here.
The Iranians have cooperated fully with the IAEA nuclear inspection team in the latest visit that ended on January 31, 2012. Another meeting is scheduled for February 21. The propaganda campaign has drowned out any positive atmosphere emanating from the IAEA visit. At that time the IAEA made favorable remarks. I assume that this was another purpose for the campaign at this particular time.
Another Iranian offer to negotiate has also been made quite recently. The news of that along with the Western response is reported here.
That article quotes Dennis B. Ross. He is the person behind the scenes who is advising Obama, even though he is now out of the administration. He is standing against Iran. Ross has a habit of speaking out of both sides of his mouth, and this obscures his real intentions which I see as being thoroughly pro-Israel and anti-Iran. In this case, he said the following of Iran: “They’re the ones in a sense who have to demonstrate they are actually prepared to engage seriously on steps that would matter.” The article itself says that he "argued this week that diplomacy still had a chance to succeed." The two-faced ruse of Ross and the administration is to speak of diplomacy as a real option, but then to subvert and undercut any chance of its working by placing impossible demands on the Iranians. He wants them to make concessions ("demonstrate" their seriousness) even before there can be diplomacy!
Another part of this article shows also that the administration is primed for war and doesn't entertain diplomacy as an option at this time, despite their rhetoric. The article says:
"The relatively muted official response to Iran’s offer to negotiate reflects the wariness of American and European officials who fear that Iran would merely use negotiations to ease international pressure while continuing to pursue activity that could bring it closer to the capability to build a nuclear bomb."
This too is part of the current propaganda story-telling. The idea is to paint the Iranians as only interested in buying time by negotiations. If we look hard enough, we can find reports going back 8–10 years or even longer in which some U.S. official claims that Iran is one year away from a nuclear weapon, or maybe five years away. If Iran wanted a nuclear weapon seriously, it would long since have gotten one or built one and withdrawn from the non-proliferation treaty.
I entertain the possibility that the U.S. policy is all a ruse to make Iran think that the U.S. will unleash an attack unless Iran does whatever it is that the U.S. demands, which would seem to be some sort of enhanced inspection program or some sort of renunciation by Iran of any option to pursue any steps whatever that might give it a nuclear capability at any time in the future, or perhaps disavowing any intentions or aims regarding Israel. However, I do not think that it is a ruse. I think that the people who speak of attacking Iran mean fully to do it unless Iran capitulates.
Such an attack is in the same league as Bush's attack on Iraq and as Hitler's attack on Poland.
The U.S. propaganda campaigns are like those of Nazi Germany. I quote:
"Real and perceived discrimination against ethnic Germans in east European nations which had gained territory at Germany's expense following World War I, such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, was the subject of Nazi propaganda. This propaganda sought to elicit political loyalty and so-called race consciousness among the ethnic German populations. It also sought to mislead foreign governments — including the European Great Powers — that Nazi Germany was making understandable and fair demands for concessions and annexations."
The source of that analysis is here. It is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. And it also says something else that can be applied to America today:
"There were several audiences for Nazi propaganda. Germans were reminded of the struggle against foreign enemies and Jewish subversion. During periods preceding legislation or executive measures against Jews, propaganda campaigns created an atmosphere tolerant of violence against Jews, particularly in 1935 (before the Nuremberg Race Laws of September) and in 1938 (prior to the barrage of antisemitic economic legislation following Kristallnacht). Propaganda also encouraged passivity and acceptance of the impending measures against Jews, as these appeared to depict the Nazi government as stepping in and 'restoring order.'"