Hagel: Bush Looking for Excuse to Attack Iran

Exactly 1389 words into the very long piece on Chuck Hagel’s political future, the Lincoln Journal Star‘s Don Walton drops a bombshell: “Some in this administration want some excuse to take military action [in Iran],” Hagel says.

ForeignPolicy.com blogger Mike Boyer, a former Hegel staffer, presents this without comment. It’s a rather bold charge to make, no?

The senator goes on:

No doubt Iran has been fomenting violence, Hagel says. But he has long argued the United States needs to engage Iran — and Syria — in direct talks, with Iranian plans to develop a nuclear capacity atop the agenda. Bush administration spokesmen already are “ratcheting up charges” against Iran, he says, perhaps reaching for “an excuse to attack.”

“I hope this administration thinks through this very carefully. Who’s going to do the dying?”

Let’s see . . .

  • The world’s leading exponent of jihadist terrorism since 1979? Check.
  • Staging a proxy war against Israel? Check.
  • Building nuclear weapons? Check.

Are we at war with them? Nope.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    He also should understand that they are attacking our territory in Iraq, as well.

    Did I miss a news report? When did we start Annexing parts of Iraq?

    Oh wait, you’re being ironic. Right? Please tell me you’re being ironic….

    [EDITOR’S NOTE: Michael was responding to a troll who has subsequently been banished from hiding under the bridge and annoying the billy goats. Not to mention the editor.]

  2. Wayne says:

    In war you must go after your enemies. In Vietnam and even in Korea we refused to go except for secret mission into countries that were harboring and supporting our enemies. When a country does not pay the price for supporting the enemy then they will continue to do it forever.

    Terrorist will never dry up to a minimum until we are willing to cut off their support mainly Syria and Iran. Also people have the misconception that if you destroy a country government and/or military that you got to rebuild it. Yes, we have had a policy of doing just that but there is nothing to stop us from just leaving and letting others pick up the pieces.

  3. legion says:

    Well, a very similar checklist could be made against North Korea (absent action against Israel, of course). We’re not at war with them, either.

    But we _are_ at war with Iraq. Let’s see… No connection to the 9-11 bombers? Check. No intel suggesting an active WMD program from anyone who didn’t have Cheney personally breathing down their neck? Check.Militarily incapable of influencing anything outside their own borders? Check. LET’S ROLL!

    Let’s face it – the same people who didn’t buy Bush’s excuses for invading Iraq aren’t going to trust anything he has to say about justifying an invasion of Iran. The people who did buy it (or at least, those who still do) already _want_ to invade Iran. Just like Bush, they’re only waiting for enough of an excuse, no matter how flimsy or imaginary.

  4. James Joyner says:

    legion: Perhaps. Then again, I’d argue that Bush isn’t exactly pushing hard other than some rhetoric here and there. Rather clearly, I think, they’ve realized they don’t have any good military options there. And they’ve said, pretty much from the get-go, that they hoped the internal politics would solve that one. (Ironic, considering the views of the Clooney character in Syriana.)

    Maybe, though, I’m just projecting.

  5. Tano says:

    Where is the bombshell? Is there any doubt that “Some in this administration want some excuse to take military action [in Iran]”?

  6. Charlie says:

    The article in the Lincoln Journal Star was an excellent piece and is well worth a read.
    If we want to have peace in the middle east, war may well not be the method to arrive there.

  7. Anderson says:

    Hegel: Bush Looking for Excuse to Attack Iran

    You can probably find *something* in the Phenomenology of Spirit that could be construed that way … but are you sure you don’t mean “Hagel”?

    As for Hagel’s suspicions, well, Sy Hersh has had some sources telling him pretty much the same thing. Hersh doesn’t have a 100% track record, but he’s been doing pretty darn well lately–people inside the gov’t are increasingly fed up and happy to spill.

    So it’s not like Hagel is suspecting an attack on South America (as Doug Feith recommended after 9/11).

  8. James Joyner says:

    Damn these unconventional spellers! First Occam and now this!

  9. Ugh says:

    Pakistan anyone?

  10. Senator Hagel once again wants the US to bring a pen to a sword fight. Personally, I’d prefer we bring a division of fully armed paratroopers, but that’s just me.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Hagle is a decorated war hero, so I have no doubt the Bush faction will be going after him. As for Iran, Bush has left us in a very poor position to deal with that threat.

  12. Herb says:

    There is no need to worry about the US attacking Iran. We have been putting up with crap from Iran for over 25 years and we have not had a President or Congress with the guts to say “enough is enough” It’s not only the President and Congress, we have many, many thousands of US Citizens that do not have the guts either. These people live in a never land and think our forefathers who fought for our freedoms were nuts and “We should have just talked to the British” and they would understand.

    It was just like WW11 when we had a few Americans who thought, just like Chamberlain, that we could “Just Talk to Hitler”. Someday, maybe, we just may have a population that remembers history, puts their hate in the gutter, gets some guts, and starts letting these rogue, pipsqueak, countries know that they had better stop their nonsense, or we will take action to stop it.

    But don’t put any money on that to ever happen, because we are now a nation of selfish, self centered, and naive people that will be at the mercy of anyone and everyone that wants each and every American Dead.

  13. RJN says:

    Iraq was doing a good job holding Iran in check until Bush with a push from the neo-cons destroyed their capabilities to continue doing so.

  14. Herb says:


    Iran was a major problem long before Bush. It’s just as I stated in my previous comment, most Americans, do not, or ever learned a thing from history. I must assume that those who are in the “Hate Bush” crowd do not or ever want to know the history of Iran and their misdeeds towards America. Iran started their “hate America” campaign during the Jimmy Carter period and Carter kissed their rear ends in his effort to appease them. IT DIDN’T WORK, and it blew up in every Americans face. We are still putting up with Iran’s crap and Iran will keep dishing it out because Iran knows that there are thousands of people here in America that are to damned dumb and would do anything and everything to keep our country split for their own political agendas,even if it means that the extremist terrorist will win and kill Americans by the millions. These “Hate” people will destroy America and history will prove them wrong, but at the expense of millions of American lives.

    The integral part of the “Hate Bush Campaign” is the Democrat Party Agenda who only think of their future power no matter what it cost in American lives. Those who follow this agenda are fools and will learn from their mistake after it is to late.

  15. george says:

    Just curious where the troops that would invade Iran are supposed to be coming from? It would seem the only solution would be to pull out of Iraq to invade Iran … I can’t see that making any sense, militarily or politically.

  16. Kent G. Budge says:

    Some in this administration want some excuse to take military action [in Iran]

    … We need an excuse?

    Like, we don’t have a lot of good reasons already?

    The problem is not that we’re in danger of attacking prematurely. The problem is that we should have attacked, oh, 27 years ago or so.

  17. Herb says:

    Kent G:

    Right On.


    Ever heard of tactical Nukes ?