Powerless To Stop Fighting The Wrong Enemy
Any lull in the violence resulting from the surge appears to be over, as the Sunnis and Al Qaeda in Iraq appear to be bombing inside and outside of Baghdad with impunity over the last couple of days. This makes the focus on Iran so unnerving, since it is much more likely that the Sunni insurgency and Al Qaeda are getting assistance from the Saudis, rather than the Iranians. Yet the White House and our own Democratic leaders are reading from the same text of tough talk on Iran, spineless to confront the Saudis and the Pakistanis, while Al Qaeda regroups thanks to Bush's negligence.
The Iranians have no need for a well-funded Sunni and Al Qaeda presence next door, yet the foreign policy establishment is hyperventilating about Iran and not the Saudis. Bush and Cheney know something about the state of play that gives them an edge this year when it comes to Iran. Our leading Democratic candidates all want to appear as serious foreign policy heavyweights and all want to be pro-Israel. As Michael Tomasky noted, Hillary and the rest will talk tough about Iran because they are establishing their street cred with the Beltway intelligentsia, and don't want to appear weak. Doing this also gives these Democrats a two-fer, in that they can appeal to both the Saudis and the Israeli war lobby simultaneously by going along with the "Blame Iran" storyline. And no matter how nonsensical such a replay of this tragedy appears to the rest of us little people, Bush and Cheney know that when it comes to Iran they can count on Democratic self-interest to shield them from too much heat.
Even though the Iranians may be looking for a way to defuse the situation, and even though the diplomatic adults are offering a way out of the upcoming catastrophe, the amateurs in the White House will use that Democratic shield to push ahead with a massive aerial bombardment when it deems appropriate, according to overseas accounts.
The truth is that Harry Reid has no way to stop Bush in Iraq without it costing him Joe Lieberman and the majority leadership. And Democratic ambitions in 2008 preclude the party from publicly waging a high-visibility fight to stop a tragic replay of the Iraq mistake in Iran. As long as Hillary and the rest of the 2008 gang put self-interested appeasement of the Saudis and Israelis above the American national interest, we are heading for another disaster with no way to stop it inside the Beltway.
And Bush and Cheney know it. Our only hope is for a second-tier Democratic candidate to lead the charge for sanity.