From today, online, at The Independent:

The Bush administration has sent undercover forces into Iran, and has stepped up secret planning for a possible major air attack on the country, according to the renowned US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

While publicly advocating diplomacy to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, Hersh reports in the next issue of The New Yorker magazine that “there is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change”.

One former senior intelligence official is quoted as saying that Mr Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a potential “Adolf Hitler”. According to a senior Pentagon adviser on the “war on terror”, “this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war”. The danger, he adds, is that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability”.

The article goes on to explain some recent tests conducted in Nevada which are designed to simulate proposed bombing runs over Iran.

Just in case you find it easy to get to sleep, the tests were of low yield nuclear devices, ie, “bunker busters.” So, if the article is right, the Bush Administration is considering using nukes to teach Iran not to build nukes.

Then, it goes on:

According to Mr Hersh, some officials are shocked at what they describe as “operational” planning which goes far beyond the usual work on hypothetical scenarios. One former defence official is quoted as saying the planning was based on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government”.

Let me guess – they’re going to arm themselves with flowers and candy.

Undercover units are also said to be working with ethnic minorities in Iran, including the Kurds, Baluchis and Azeris. While one goal was to have “eyes on the ground”, the broader aim was to “encourage ethnic tensions” and undermine the regime.

Because ethnic tensions have worked out so well for us in Iraq, haven’t they?

I really hope I’m wrong in my paranoid certainty that we are going to attack Iran and my equal certainty that it will be a terrible, terrible mistake. I hope we don’t attack. If we do, I hope it goes as well as any war can. But I think those are not how it will be. I think we will regret it for many, many decades to come.