Monday :: Nov 20, 2006

Cheney Wants Iran Strike As If Iraq Debacle Didn't Exist


by Steve

Seymour Hersh's latest piece in the New Yorker reports that Dick Cheney believes the Iranians are moving full speed ahead with a nuclear weapons program. Hersh reports that the CIA's latest assessment of Iran finds no conclusive evidence of such a program, but (stop if you've heard this one before) Cheney thinks the Agency is wrong, and that the United States may have to strike Iran even in a limited fashion simply because the Israelis will do it alone if necessary. The purpose of such a strike is no longer to topple the regime, but to slow down their program and to show them that the United States can strike them when it wants to. As crazy as this all sounds, read the Hersh piece and notice that nowhere in the Administration's thinking is the aftermath of such an attack contemplated.

The former senior intelligence official added that the C.I.A. assessment raised the possibility that an American attack on Iran could end up serving as a rallying point to unite Sunni and Shiite populations. “An American attack will paper over any differences in the Arab world, and we’ll have Syrians, Iranians, Hamas, and Hezbollah fighting against us—and the Saudis and the Egyptians questioning their ties to the West. It’s an analyst’s worst nightmare—for the first time since the caliphate there will be common cause in the Middle East.” (An Islamic caliphate ruled the Middle East for over six hundred years, until the thirteenth century.)

It's as if the last four years hadn't taken place. Cheney is more concerned with showing the Iranians how strong he is, and he's less concerned if at all about the fate of our troops inside Iraq after any attack, or the effect such an attack would have upon the world economy or our relationships in the region or around the globe.

This is all the more disturbing when you realize that while Cheney is looking for his next war, our generals are trying to fashion a way out of Iraq that deals with the situation on the ground. The Post reports today that the Pentagon has come up with three different scenarios: increase troop strength to defeat the insurgency and sectarian violence; get out now; or a hybrid of the two, which would be a temporary increase to deal with the Sunni insurgency and set the stage for a redeployment of forces towards more advisors and training forces while we draw down to a more permanent force of about 60,000 in the country.

Note that the "Go Home" option has already been discarded because it allegedly would lead to a civil war. But what if the country was already in a civil war, aided and abetted by our presence in that country? The Syrians are calling for us to leave, and are willing to work with the Iranians and Iraqis immediately on steps to stop the violence inside Iraq, if we commit to leaving. Henry Kissinger of all people seems to be on the same page, recognizing that Bush's vision for Iraq is now gone, and that a regional security conference needs to be convened immediately to discuss our withdrawal and the responsibilities of neighboring countries, something we have been calling for around here for months now.

The wave of sectarian "revenge violence" continues unabated, and both the Syrians and the Iranians seem willing to talk about ways to stop it. Kissinger now sees the problem as well, which may be an advance look at what the Baker/Hamilton report will say, and serve as the basis for what the generals are discussing inside the Pentagon. Yet Cheney is convinced of the wisdom of attacking Iran to send them a message, as if Iraq was in an alternate universe and as if such an attack wouldn't unite all of our enemies against us in a common cause while sacking our economy and further endangering our troops.

While the Bush Administration dawdles about what to do, waiting for the Baker report to spell out what is a good outcome for the Carlyle Group, don't be surprised if Iraq and its neighbors take the initiative themselves to solve the problems we caused, thereby rendering moot Cheney's plans to show everyone how big his balls are. If Iran, Syria, Iraq, and other neighboring countries arrive at a solution that calls for an exit timeline, it will gain international support and will isolate us for being part of the problem.

Steve :: 12:12 PM :: Comments (19) :: Digg It!