Yesterday Eli Lake published a piece at the Daily Beast showing that CentCom commander James Mattis is is rattling the chain of command for a war in the Persian Gulf. Mattis, some of you may recall, dodged possible reprimand in 2005 for an anti-Taliban comment that went off the rails:
You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling.
He "speaks his mind" ala General Curtis LeMay back in Vietnam days, even as Obama is urging patience. Lake:
Those who have worked with Mattis say his views when it comes to Iran are more in line with those of America’s allies in the Persian Gulf and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than with his own government’s. At a recent charity event for Spirit of America, Mattis, known by admirers as the “warrior monk” and by detractors as “Mad Dog Mattis,” said his three top concerns in the Middle East were “Iran, Iran, and Iran.”
I asked David Bromwich-- who has described Obama's presidency as "the Peace Prize War Presidency" -- what is going on. He says:
I think Obama believes he has all this under control. He wants the
pressure to be ratcheted up continuously but slowly between now and
November; he looks for a position of slightly increased hope for peace
with Iran. So the evident plan is to put off an attack but not remove
the pressure for attack before November. Yesterday's "hopeful" statement about inspections in Iran by the IAEA director Yukiya Amano, accompanied by the cautious remarks of Obama's press secretary and the extremely skeptical public statement by Ehud Barak, show the plan going forward apparently on schedule.
But as with the debt ceiling, as with health care, as with Israel/Palestine, as with the economy--Obama's sense here of his own control has a precarious foundation in the visible facts.