Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter, a historian and journalist, writes regularly on U.S. policy in Iran and Iraq for Inter Press Service. His most recent book is Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2005).

Recent Articles

The Iran Attack That Wasn't

How reporters trumped up a story about Iranians killing Americans in Iraq.

On July 2 and 3, The New York Times and the Associated Press, among other media outlets, came out with sensational stories saying that either Iranians or Iranian agents had played an important role in planning the operation in Karbala, Iraq last January that resulted in the deaths of five American soldiers. Michael R. Gordon and John F. Burns of The New York Times wrote that "agents of Iran" had been identified by the military spokesman as having "helped plan a January raid in the Shiite holy city of Karbala in Iraq in which five American soldiers were killed by Islamic militants …" Lee Keath of the Associated Press wrote an even more lurid lead , asserting that U.S. military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner had accused "Iran's elite Quds force" of having "helped militants carry out a January attack in Karbala that killed five Americans." The story was a big break for the war-with-Iran faction in Washington. Within hours, Sen. Joe Lieberman issued a press release saying that the...

The Spoiler

Whenever the administration shifts toward engagement, one figure is there to stop it. How Dick Cheney ensures diplomatic failure with Tehran.

In recent months, guessing the Bush administration's intentions on Iran has become a favorite Washington game. In a very short time, a phase of warlike rhetoric, accompanied by an ostentatious increase in naval power in the Persian Gulf, has given way to the very public pursuit of direct, high-level talks with Iran. It is obvious that Iran policy is the subject of a fierce intra-administration struggle between advocates of a military option and advocates of diplomatic engagement. Less obvious, but crucial to understanding the Bush policy, is how Vice President Dick Cheney, the leader of the pro-war faction in the administration, has managed to steer the main lines of that policy, even when it was not apparent. Many observers believe Cheney has lost the power struggle over foreign policy to the "realists" in the administration. That may be true, but the pattern of Iran policy in Bush's second term has been one in which Cheney has let Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appear to be in...

First Rejected, Now Denied

In a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied knowledge of Iran's secret 2003 negotiating proposal to the United States. Her denial is part of a broader administration strategy aimed at buttressing the Bush administration's coercive policy toward Iran from congressional pressures for diplomatic engagement with the country. Rice's State Department had adopted press guidance last month to sow confusion in the media about the Iranian proposal by denying that the document in question actually represented Iran's views. Rice's response on Wednesday to a question from Congressman. Robert Wexler in a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee was a slight variant on that theme. She claimed she had neither seen any secret negotiating proposal from Iran in 2003 nor been informed of it by other officials; she then questioned Iran's endorsement of any such proposal. The Iranian proposal, which was conveyed to the Bush administration secretly by the...

The Blame Game

After promising that the Bush administration would publish a document this week detailing the evidence for its charge that Iranians in Iraq are providing arms and advice to Shiite militias to kill American troops, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack suggested Wednesday that no such document would be forthcoming any time soon. Paul Richter of The Los Angeles Times reported that some officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, had resisted the release of the dossier, because they believed the assertions contained in it would have so little credibility that it would backfire politically. As Richter wrote, "They want to avoid repeating the embarrassment that followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it became clear that information the administration cited to justify the war was incorrect…" Indeed, the new campaign hyping Iranian meddling, like the 2002-2003 propaganda campaign leading up to the invasion of Iraq, emphasizes a single, highly emotional theme...

Advice Not Taken

The Iraq Study Group was warned by the former State Department coordinator of intelligence on Iraq that the option of sharply increasing the number of U.S. trainers in the Iraqi military -- a plan that the ISG recommended in their final report and the Pentagon has now approved -- probably would fail, even if accompanied by 50,000 additional U.S. troops and the adoption of favorable policies by the Iraqi government. Wayne White, former Deputy Director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research's Near Eastern Division, combined that blunt warning with a proposal to give such a training initiative and other "surge" measures a one-year trial, but only on the condition that it be linked to a commitment to withdrawal if found to be unsuccessful. White thus created a new option, known within the ISG as "Option 3.5," because it combined the two options under review, "stability first" and "redeploy and contain," that had been called Options 3 and 4. Those two options had...

Pages