Third, no one can predict where an attack on Iran will lead. While the United States could smash all known nuclear facilities, Iran could ship IEDs, sniper rifles and surface-to-air missiles into Afghanistan and Iraq, and send in thousands of Revolutionary Guard and cause chaos in the Gulf that would double or treble the price of oil, setting off a worldwide recession. Sleeper cells could retaliate for Iranian casualties with suicide bombings at U.S. malls.
We went into Iraq and Afghanistan without an exit strategy. In Iran, other than the naval and air strikes of the first weeks, we do not know how or where the war would go. We do know the Iranians have been preparing surprises.
Fourth, Congress seems to have found its voice, and 30 senators have written to inform President Bush that he does not have the authority, absent an Iranian attack on U.S. forces, to launch a war on Iran. While Rudy Giuliani and John McCain remain hawkish, the Democratic candidates are moving in the other direction.
Fifth, there has been a downturn in roadside attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, suggesting Iran may no longer be supplying the enhanced IEDs. And U.S. forces have released several Iranians held captive in Iraq. There may be progress behind the scenes, as both countries could suffer horribly in a war.
We are not out of the woods yet. If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is telling the truth about those 3,000 centrifuges working perfectly, Iran could have the nuclear material for a single bomb in a year. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports this month on whether Iran is meeting its commitments to come clean. It is not. And the European Union will report on whether the sanctions have succeeded, or failed. And the latter is the case.
And there are those in Tehran who would relish U.S. strikes, to unite the nation against us and consolidate the mullahs' power.
Nevertheless, the forces against war now and for negotiations with Tehran -- Condi Rice, Robert Gates, the Pentagon brass, the most outspoken of the retired military and NATO Europe -- seem to be gaining the ascendancy in the last great battle of the Bush presidency.
And the War Party, which began its propaganda offensive around Labor Day, seems to have shot its bolt. For now.