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  Saturday  October 21  2006    11: 55 PM


A New Decision?

ďAdministration officials told me on Monday that President George Bush is likely to announce "an exit strategy" that would draw down current U.S. force levels in Iraq.

"I think the dimensions of the catastrophe there has finally sunk in," one administration source said.

He and two others I talked to refused to speculate on details of any withdrawal, but all said that Bush would begin public statements after the upcoming elections were completed.

But they did say that Bush is also becoming "increasingly pessimistic" about any military action against Iran. According to one, "Bush really wanted to mount an attack on Iran earlier this year -- he was really hot to trot," but military briefings brought home to him that attacking Iran did not mean eliminating its suspected nuclear sites but also having to destroy "Iran's entire retaliatory capability," in the words of one. This capability is formidable; U.S. intelligence sources say Iran has underground missile batteries southwest of Abu Musa with the HY-2 advanced version of the Silkworm anti-ship missile. There are also Scud-Cs which could hit any UAE ports, including those to the south and west of Abu Dhabi and they could also strike Dubai where U.S. naval sources currently dock at the port of Jebel Ali.