An eerie silence

The passage of the UN deadline yesterday for Iran to cease enriching uranium came with an eerie silence — not from the Iranians, as we noted, but from Team Bush.  Where was the finger-wagging about how this will not stand, the Iranians must be held to account, and so on?  Surely if someone at the White House had said something to that effect it would have interrupted the Anna Nicole hearings and breaking Britney news, if only momentarily.

Actually, there was one ominous note from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said those new anti-missile systems the United States is installing in Poland and the Czech Republic are meant to counter not a threat from Russia as nearly everyone believes, but rather a threat from Iran.  Why exactly the mullahs would want to lob a missile or two at Brno or Katowice was left unaddressed.

Meanwhile, the departing commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet is warning about one possible trigger for war — an Iranian "miscalculation":

Vice Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, who also heads the US Naval Forces Central Command, told a small group of journalists at Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain that Iran was more likely to threaten oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz than mine the strategic passageway in the event of a showdown.

“What concerns me is miscalculation. That’s certainly what we are trying to avoid… a mistake that then boils over into a war,” Walsh said late on Monday.

Elsewhere, Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis poses an excellent question about Iran toward the end of a terrific analysis of the North Korean nuke deal:

American neoconservatives are furious at President George Bush for what they claim is pandering to `axis of evil’ North Korea in order to achieve a desperately needed foreign policy success after so many gross failures.

What really worries them, of course, is that direct talks with North Korea raise the obvious question: why not direct talks with Iran over its so far peaceful nuclear program? The neocons want war with Iran, not talks, so the example of North Korea is undermining their carefully developed strategy.

Why not indeed?  The answer might lie in something we covered a week ago — a tacit agreement within the Bush administration that the Office of the Vice President would not interfere with the State Department's North Korean nuke negotiations, provided that State keeps its nose out of OVP's plans for war on Iran.