That's the gloomy assessment of Gary Younge writing in today's Guardian. He writes that all the predictable signs are showing up again.
"'A man with a conviction is a hard man to change,' wrote Festinger in his book on the cult, When Prophecy Fails. 'Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts and figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.'
"George Bush is a man of conviction and clearly a hard man to change. When reality confronts his plans he does not alter them but instead alters his understanding of reality. ...he stands with a tight band of followers, both deluded and determined, understanding each setback not as a sign to change course but as further proof that they must redouble their efforts to the original goal.
"And so we watch the administration's plans for a military attack against Iran unfold even as its official narrative for the run-up to the war in Iraq unravels and the wisdom of that war stands condemned by death and destruction. As though on split screens, we pass seamlessly from reports of how they lied to get us into the last war, to scenes of carnage as a result of the war, to shots of them lying us into the next one.
"'It is absolutely parallel,' Philip Giraldi, a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist, told Vanity Fair magazine. 'They're using the same dance steps - demonise the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux.'
"The administration, of course, denies this. Despite the fact it has ordered oil reserves to be stockpiled and has just sent a second aircraft carrier as well as more patriot missiles and minesweepers to the Gulf, they swear these allegations are groundless. Robert Gates, the new defence secretary, recently insisted: "I don't know how many times the president, secretary [of state Condoleezza] Rice and I have had to repeat that we have no intention of attacking Iran."
"The sad fact is Gates can say it as many times as he likes because no one believes him. In April 2002, Bush told Trevor McDonald: 'I have no plans to attack [Iraq] on my desk.' An $8 cab ride to the Pentagon and Bush would have found the plans on Donald Rumsfeld's desk. He knew this because he put them there four months earlier. On November 21 2001, he asked Rumsfeld: 'What kind of war plan do you have for Iraq?'
"'Targets have been selected,' says Vincent Cannistraro, a US intelligence analyst. 'For a bombing campaign against nuclear sites, it is quite advanced. The military assets to carry this out are being put in place. We are planning for war.'
"...the region's biggest obstacle to peace and stability is not Iran but the US. The invasion of Iraq has both bolstered Iran's standing by installing a friendly Shia regime in Baghdad, and given Iran every reason to arm itself for fear of imminent attack from US bases now embedded on its border. Each time the White House issues threats against Iran, it strengthens the crude, anti-semitic prime minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who can rally the nation around a foreign enemy - a strategy with which Bush is all too familiar.
"...it seems once Bush has got hold of a bad idea he just can't let it go. Just because it is irresponsible, irrational, unpopular and unconscionable doesn't mean he won't do it.
"'History does not repeat itself,' Mark Twain once wrote. 'But it does rhyme.'"
Pre-deployment of military forces is evidence of a decision already taken to go to war. It's very expensive. It requires a major logistical supply line. Once deployed, forces in the field either have to be sent into combat or brought back to get put back into shape to be deployed again. In other words, you lose your ability to commit that force again for several months. With the American military already severely stretched, Bush really doesn't have the option of squandering its remaining resources, even if they are naval air and air force assets, on mere sabre-rattling.