Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Unprepared in Iran, the Follow-Up to Unprepared in Iraq

I wrote in 2002 (War With Iraq is Not the Problem) that the difficulties apparent in attacking Saddam Hussein had little to do with overcoming Iraq militarily and everything to do with aftermath. Essentially, we had for so long thirsted for the taste of rabbit that we hadn't bothered looking up any tasty recipes.

Iraqwar I wrote in 2002 (War With Iraq is Not the Problem) that the difficulties apparent in attacking Saddam Hussein had little to do with overcoming Iraq militarily and everything to do with aftermath. Essentially, we had for so long thirsted for the taste of rabbit that we hadn't bothered looking up any tasty recipes.

Iraq has proven out just as advertised. The battle won and the war (as well as the peace) irretrievably lost. Unable to change the facts on the ground, George Bush changed the goals, from defeating Saddam to fighting al-Qaeda to establishing democracy to bringing stability to the region to not cutting-and-running to establishing benchmarks to surging troop levels to –finally—blaming the whole morass on Iran.

(Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker, Oct 8th) In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran.

Cheneyfingerprints It’s easy to absolve Bush of everything but complicity. He squandered a wishful and fruitless life being bailed out of successive failures in business and it comes as no shock that he is the conduit of others in this presidency. Dick Cheney is and has been the man running the policy machinery within the administration. We are left holding the Cheney bag and paying the Cheney bill.

  • Having learned in Iraq the terrible costs associated with not thinking through the variables of preemptive war, one would not expect that same mistake to be made against Iran.
  • Having essentially broken our Army and Marines, one would hardly expect to wager the Navy.
  • Having destabilized the Middle East (encouraging a resounding revitalization of al-Qaeda), we put ourselves and our allies at increased risk. One would hardly be so bold as to strike out at an additional 70 million Persian Muslims.
  • Having caused oil prices to pierce the $80 barrier, diminished by half the international value of the dollar, tripled the national debt and destroyed what little confidence remained in the American two-party system, one would hardly expect this to be an opportune time for further foreign adventures.

Cheneysnarl Yet in the face of this evidence (and with a Congress too cowed on terrorist issues to stop him), Dick Cheney, through his surrogate George Bush, plans to attack Iran before the remaining fifteen months of his administration have gasped their last.

“Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people,” Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in August. “The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops.” He then concluded, to applause, “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

As it was in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, concerning Iran the thinnest veneer of cause is supported by the least credible and most narrowly interpreted circumstantial evidence. A jury of twelve could not possibly convict on the basis of evidence presented. And yet, so diligently as we protect the life of an individual by that requirement of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ we prepare to abandon all proofs in an attack against millions. Much has been made about Iranian supply to Iraq of IED munitions.

Questions remain, however, about the provenance of weapons in Iraq, especially given the rampant black market in arms. David Kay, a former C.I.A. adviser and the chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the United Nations, told me that his inspection team was astonished, in the aftermath of both Iraq wars, by “the huge amounts of arms” it found circulating among civilians and military personnel throughout the country. He recalled seeing stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators, as well as charges that had been recovered from unexploded American cluster bombs. Arms had also been supplied years ago by the Iranians to their Shiite allies in southern Iraq who had been persecuted by the Baath Party.

. . . A former high-level C.I.A. official said that the intelligence about who is doing what inside Iran “is so thin that nobody even wants his name on it. This is the problem.”

In the face of such skinny evidence, it’s difficult to know how the administration could possibly frame the need for attacking Iran.

At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq.

Taking us into another war while hatching a plan to fend off criticism.  Amazing. An absolutely stunning strategy of lying once again to the American public.

Bushcheneyrummy Essentially, we put our fate and the fate of an area of the world larger than Europe in the hands of blind trust. The guys we would trust with this inconceivably complicated roll of the dice lied to us before. In a court of law, they would not even be credible witnesses in one another's defense.

Not one or two, as is par for the course, but scores of books have been written by those who worked side by side with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Those who left, wrote about their disillusionment and try to make us understand the perfidy that exists at the very top of our government.

George Bush and Dick Cheney ask our trust without compelling reason, beyond the blind faith that they know better than us and they know secrets they cannot tell uscannot even tell the courts, the very building-blocks of our freedoms. These subverters of democracy have for the six and a half years of their failed administration, been wrong at every single turn, fumbled the ball at every snap, run every 4th-down play to suffer a loss of yardage and consistently snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

They are, if we let them (and probably even if we don’t) going to attack Iran.

. . . The former intelligence official added, “There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”

Iranianyouth_3 Iran is the largest Muslim democracy in the world today, a nation of 70 million that has never attacked a neighbor, whose overwhelmingly young citizens (70% under thirty) are enthusiastic supporters of American culture.

Its crime in the eyes of this administration is that, during the overthrow of an American imposed dictator (Shah of Iran) it bloodied our Imperial nose by holding our embassy personnel hostage for 444 days. The democracy that followed was (and is) dictated by Islamic extremists who essentially have turned Iran into a theocracy. Yet it is a far Iraniansoccer more moderate government than that of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Its theocracy is fragile and headed steadily into decline, unless of course we embolden it by military adventurism and provide the excuse it needs to show a bolder domestic hand.

Iran has consistently offered to assist American interests with the Shiite government in Iraq and, not for a moment mistaking their own self-interest, should probably be brought into the negotiations rather than attacked militarily. Mirroring the lack of preparation in Iraq, we haven’t the slightest idea of what to do after bombing Iran.

  • There are actually administration hawks who believe the Iranians will rise up against the theocracy.
  • Unable to occupy and stabilize Iraq (50 million) and with no troops anywhere to spare, how would we possibly control Iran?
  • Is it tenable that Cheney, Addington and AIPAC would seriously bomb the country and leave? Kill a million and leave a smoldering ruin of 69 million America haters in the place of those who admire our country? For no other purpose than the spiteful act of a schoolyard bully who just lost a very public fight?

Ciamichaelhayden What’s going on over at the CIA is always a bellwether of where the administration is headed;

“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

Limited direct experience--essentially, there is no plan for afterward. Having broken and demoralized our ground-fighting branches, the entire effort would depend upon a naval air attack against 2,000 targeted sites run from the decks of three aircraft carriers stationed in the Gulf. Because we lack ground capability, there are no options but to devastate and withdraw.

Zbigniewbrzezinski There was no precedent for such a use of American power before Iraq.

That theme was echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national-security adviser, who said that he had heard discussions of the White House’s more limited bombing plans for Iran. Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”

And there is no possible excuse but the waning power of an ineffectual and incompetent administration showing off their one last swagger on the way out. We used to call that a cheap shot, a foul after the whistle. But that was a more innocent sports metaphor, where the outcome didn't wreck countries and ruin lives. After all, even when those guys high-sticked, they were heroes instead of draft-dodgers. They had class.

Congress has blown that whistle. The fact that there's no one with a striped shirt, no one with either the spine nor the moral power of persuasion (having co-conspired with this fear mongering administration for the past six years) is beside the point. The whistle's blown on this Bush-Cheney government and any move they make between now and January 19, 2009 will be made

  • without the support of the Congress,
  • the citizenry
  • or the great majority of the International community.

None of which has stopped them in the past.

“Cheney’s option is now for a fast in and out—for surgical strikes,” the former senior American intelligence official told me. The Joint Chiefs have turned to the Navy, he said, which had been chafing over its role in the Air Force-dominated air war in Iraq. “The Navy’s planes, ships, and cruise missiles are in place in the Gulf and operating daily. They’ve got everything they need—even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf.” There are also plans to hit Iran’s anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile sites. “We’ve got to get a path in and a path out,” the former official said.

Dick Cheney was going to get us fast in and fast out of Iraq as I remember.
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