Monday :: May 29, 2006

Iraq Disaster May Provide Hope on Iran

by Steve

On the third Memorial Day since “Mission Accomplished” was unfurled across the Abraham Lincoln by the White House media team, and as Iraq spins further away from stability with each passing day, there is hope today that our overstretched and politically abused military will not be ordered into another war of choice by a criminal commander in chief before the next Memorial Day.

In Iraq, our ability to dictate events and a direction for the country is diminishing with every passing day. New Prime Minister al-Maliki is still unable to get agreement among the parties on filling the Interior and Defense ministry positions. Nir Rosen’s essay yesterday in the Post shows that we are less and less of an influence in Iraq, while the militias now are the power center in the country, inciting fear and disorder. Bush has in effect made our military look impotent and criminal in the Islamic world, evidenced further by how we are losing control in Afghanistan, the job Bush never finished.

Perhaps this disintegration into weakness has led to a new debate on Iran. There is an open debate now within the administration over whether or not the White House should commence direct talks with the country. The usual suspects are against direct talks, but Bush’s rhetoric of late has been to indicate that Europe is taking the lead in dealing with Iran, and the pressure for direct talks has been coming from those European countries. Journalist and fellow blogger Laura Rozen ran a great piece in the Los Angeles Times Saturday indicating that Bush is also getting serious pressure from the GOP foreign policy establishment to open direct talks with Iran.

Furthermore, Iran wants direct talks, its president and clerics are unified in this desire for the first time, and the Iranians seem to be either slowing down their enrichment program or running into technical difficulties. I have heard from a source that the Iranians are willing to compromise and trade off the work they have already done at one site if we would simply show them some respect and talk with them directly. The Iranians are working through the Greeks and other UN avenues to push for direct talks, and are expecting the carrot-and-stick sanctions from the UN this week, sanctions that Russia and China can support devoid of any military component. This would be the framework for a possible deal.

Our tough, rejectionist posture towards Iran was further undermined when the new al-Maliki government in Iraq came out in support of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Iran signaled it was tired of waiting for the Bush Administration to talk with it about Iraq’s future, and decided to work with regional states to forge their own future. Iran also pledged $1 billion in economic assistance to the Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, and to work with Iraq on sealing their border. In short, any window Bush had to influence events on the ground in Iraq has passed, and Iran is the new power in the region, thanks to Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

This doesn’t mean the hardliners inside the White House have lost yet, as evidenced by today’s Post story that the administration is trying to push the Europeans into punishing Iran with economic sanctions, which will hurt oil markets. And the White House was able to get The Poodle to harden his remarks on Iran last week. But pulling The Poodle’s leash at a time when his own troops are deserting in Iraq is nothing more than a recipe for Gordon Brown to take over sooner, which will deprive Bush of his last ally.

Bush's impotence in Iraq may be a blessing for us in Iran.

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Steve :: 11:49 AM :: Comments (11) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!