BAGHDAD - Citing Iranian involvement with Iraqi militias and Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the Bush administration has shifted to offense in its confrontation with Iran - building up the U.S. military in the Persian Gulf and promising more aggressive moves against Iranian operatives in Iraq and Lebanon.
The behind-the-scenes struggle between the two nations could explode into open warfare over a single misstep, analysts and U.S. military officials warn. [....]
As the rhetoric grows more strident, a U.S. military official in the Gulf likened the U.S.-Iran standoff to the buildup in hostility in Europe before the First World War, when the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne triggered a war that engulfed a continent.
"A mistake could be made and you could end up in something that neither side ever really wanted, and suddenly it's August 1914 all over again," the U.S. officer said on condition of anonymity. [....]
In Tehran, political analyst Hermidas Bavand said U.S. force increases are leading many Iranians to believe Washington is looking to pick a fight.
"It's an extremely dangerous situation," Bavand said.
"I don't think Tehran wants war under any circumstances. But there might be an accidental event that could escalate into a large confrontation."
February 01, 2007
Not to worry: 'the great decider' never missteps