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February 1, 2007

Will the US Invade Iran? Mixed Signals

-- by Patrick O'Heffernan

Is the Administration trying to prepare the US and world publics for military action against Iran? Is Iran a threat to the US? We are seeing some mixed signals, but I two analysts I respect think that is what is going on. One of them, - an Arab, says war is coming and it is over oil.

First the signals. The raid on the home of an Iranian diplomat last week and the capture of 5 Iranians by Amreican troops is a pretty clear shot across Iran's bow. Add to that the movement of a second carrier group with Patriot missiles into the Gulf and we see a second shot - especially since Iran is the only country with missile capability that could be the target of the Patriots. And then add to this Bush's refusal to talk to the Iranian government despite the urgings of the Iraq War Commission and Jim Baker, backed up by particularily threatening remarks by the VP on Sunday talk shows, all point to an Administration getting ready to do the unthinkable again.

However, from their point of view, Iran is becoming very dangerous and has already begun an attack on the US. An ABC report today details new armor-piercing IED's being used in Iraq by but made in Iran (if ABC has its facts right). There is little doubt among most MIddle East experts that Iran's President Ahmadinejad would build nukes if he could. Ahmadinejad is in deep political trouble at home and may not be re-elected, so he is doing what national leaders have done for centuries when faced with defeat at home - start a war. Only starting a war for him is not massed troops, but IED's, Hizbullah demonstrations, training for insurgents, pressuring Saudia Arabia to raise oil prices, supplying weapons to Nigerian insurgents trying to take over the delta oil fields, etc. In other words, there is evidence that the Administrtion is right - Iran is harming US interestrs and killing US soldiers.

Is a perceived threat from Iran what is behind the Administration's war signals? Francis Fukuyama, no progressive to be sure, sees something else: he wrote yestereday in The Guardian that " certain neoconservatives [advocate] military action against Iran. Some insist that Iran poses an even greater threat than Iraq, avoiding the fact that their zealous advocacy of the Iraq invasion is what has destroyed America's credibility and undercut its ability to take strong measures against Iran. All of this could well be correct. Ahmadinejad may be the new Hitler; the current negotiations could be our Munich accords; Iran could be in the grip of undeterrable religious fanatics; and the west might be facing a "civilisational" danger."

But, he continues, " I believe that there are reasons for being less alarmist....What I find remarkable about the neoconservative line of argument on Iran, however, is how little changed it is in its basic assumptions and tonalities from that taken on Iraq in 2002, despite the momentous events of the past five years and the manifest failure of policies that neoconservatives themselves advocated. "

In other words, Fukyama thinks the Bushies are being pushed by trhe remaining no-cons - i.e., the American Enterprise Institute - who refuse to accept anything other than the use of overwhelming military force as the solution to all of America's problems, even when the evidence that it does not work is obvious in Iraq.

Jamal Dijani, Director ofr Middle East Programming for LinkTV, sees a much more complex picture. Dijani daily program on Link TV, Mosiac, features news broadcasts from Arab, Iranian, Israelie television, translated into English, so he sees the detail that Fukyama, and the Administration, miss. His take, posted on YouTube, is that Saudia Arabia and the Sunni Community of the Middle East is already in a proxy war with Iran and the US is on the Sunni side - in effect, in a proxy war with Iran. Privately, Jamal has told me that he thinks the Administration will attack, with oil being as much part of the motivation as regional politics.

While I think both Fukuyama and Dijani are correct, I think there is something much more simple going on, the Administration is panicked. Bush and Co. realize that the Congressional testimony of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Bush has committed the worst military and diplomatic fiasco is American history is right, and that Bush will be forever known as our worst ever President and have the blood of thousands of Americans and Iraqis on his hands. Moreover, they are panicked that Rep. Waxman's investigations of the management of the occupation will turn up massive corruption inside the Administration and among big time Republican donors - leading to jail time for Republican appointees and fat cats, and the elimination of Republicans from the White House for decades.

The White House is panicked and is trying to do anything they can to either (1) Fix it - i.e, the "surge"; (2) Blame someone else, and since it won't stick to Clinton they are trying to tar the Iranians, and (3) if all else fails, start a war with Iran so they can rally the base, repeat "War President" to every question, and shut down Congressional investigations .

Hopefully, as Fukuyama says, while the neo-cons and panicked White house refuse to change, What may change is the American public's willingness to listen to them. Then all we have to worry about is blood for oil.

Posted by Patrick O'Heffernan at February 1, 2007 1:06 PM

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