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Next stop, Iran?

President Bush has an itch called Iran, and it seems inevitable there will be a U.S.-led war with the Middle Eastern country. Through its words and actions, the Bush administration has shown that another war in the Middle East is on the horizon for the United States.

It is not if; it is an emphatic, solemn when.

The evidence of an impending war is mounting: claims of American commandos already in Iran are surfacing; Washington and Tehran are talking trash and Europe is bracing itself.

Is this administration’s thirst for war unquenchable, or is the possible military action in Iran actually justified? The answers will come soon enough, but right now, it seems Bush is serious about being aggressive (he warned us) in his second term and wants nothing more than to “spread democracy” throughout the Middle East. Or so he says.

If Iraq taught us anything, it was that Bush must be questioned adamantly about his true motives. When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, he earned the distrust of the American public, and if he tries to take us into another war, with Iraq still bubbling with violence, we must face Bush with questions that ensure another war is truly justified.

To be truly justified, we must have proof that Iran has, or is extremely close to having, nuclear warheads. There can be no gray area.

Earlier this month, President Bush said he would not rule out a military strike in Iran if the country continued to hide information of its nuclear weapons program.

Bush made those remarks following an article in The New Yorker that stated the Bush administration was eager to wage war on Iran and that the United States was already conducting secret reconnaissance missions to gain intelligence since at least the summer of 2003.

The piece, titled “The Coming Wars,” was written by journalist Seymour Hersh, the reporter who uncovered the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. “The goal,” Hersh wrote, “is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids.”

Hersh also quoted a former high-level intelligence officer as saying, “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign.”

What was once unimaginable — another war — is now expected.

For Bush, all the pieces are seemingly in place. With the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States can use ground forces to invade from the East and West rather than from solely the Persian or Oman Gulf.

But when the United States goes in, it could go alone. The BBC recently reported a stiff rift between the United States and the United Kingdom over Iran. So as it stands, Israel would be America’s only significant ally.

The Bush administration deserves to be pounded with criticism from every angle for even considering military action in Iran. Critics should question why Bush feels he could handle Iran, a nation with a military superior to Iraq’s, while Iraq is still drowning in terrorism and turmoil. Bush is prepared to bomb Iran while Baghdad continues to burn. And so, the cancer that is Iraq spreads westward.

Back in the fall of 2003, Iran admitted it had begun converting uranium into gas, a major step in producing fuel for nuclear reactors and bombs. Iran had the United States’, and the world’s, attention. But Iranian president Mohammad Khatami said there was nothing to worry over, claiming Iran’s intentions are nonviolent.

Of course, there is reason to be skeptical of Iran. It is well known in the international community that it has been withholding its nuclear information from inspectors for years. If a war is what Iran wants, it will get it.

So Iran can continue to say their intentions are nonviolent. But it better brace itself, because when Bush scratches an itch, violence — justified or not — will certainly reign.

John Calkins is a junior majoring in journalism.