As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Wurlitzer Starts

Well, maybe the timing was off, but it certainly feels like the next war is starting, to Seymour Hersh:

The President’s position, and its corollary—that, if many of America’s problems in Iraq are the responsibility of Tehran, then the solution to them is to confront the Iranians—have taken firm hold in the Administration. This summer, the White House, pushed by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney, requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran, according to former officials and government consultants. The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack, with targets including Iran’s known and suspected nuclear facilities and other military and infrastructure sites. Now the emphasis is on “surgical” strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere, which, the Administration claims, have been the source of attacks on Americans in Iraq. What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.

The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.

Which makes the Lieberman/Kyl amendment, passed in the Senate this past week, all the more dangerous, since it specifically labels the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, and therefore counterterrorism efforts to attack them have credibility. What does not have credibility is the idea that the Revolutionary Guard are Iran are doing any kind of major attacks within Iraq. I'm sure at some level they're providing some advice, and certainly they're strengthened by having a Shiite theocratic state in power, but foreign fighters are the least of our worries in Iraq. This is a scapegoating play designed to shift the blame for failure in Iraq from the Administration to Iran. And right-wing propaganda groups are joining in that chorus.

The New York Times reports that next month, the White House-front group Freedom’s Watch “will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States”:

“If Hitler’s warnings were heeded when he wrote ‘Mein Kampf,’ he could have been stopped,” said Bradley Blakeman, 49, the president of Freedom’s Watch and a former deputy assistant to Mr. Bush. “Ahmadinejad is giving all the same kind of warning signs to us, and the region — he wants the destruction of the United States and the destruction of Israel.”

We are seeing a lot of the same signs as we did in the fall of 2002: a neutered Congress, a propaganda war, an inevitability strategy for war in friendly media, resources within the intelligence community moved to Iran, and telling the IAEA to go fly a kite.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned the U.N. nuclear watchdog group Wednesday not to interfere with international diplomacy over Iran's alleged weapons program.

Condoleezza Rice criticized the U.N. nuclear watchdog group Wednesday while en route to the Middle East.

The International Atomic Energy Agency "is not in the business of diplomacy," Rice told reporters traveling with her to the Middle East.

The IAEA's role should be limited to carrying out inspections and offering a "clear declaration and clear reporting on what the Iranians are doing; whether and when and if they are living up to the agreements they have signed," she said.

Maybe it's because they carried out inspections in Iraq, were on their way to finding nothing, and got kicked out of the country before they were done, leading to a global foreign policy disaster. They're "butting in" because they don't want to see disaster number two.

All of which goes back to this Lieberman/Kyl vote, a major win for the neocons which now puts practically all the impetus for stopping a war with Iran on the MILITARY, which is simply an un-American scenario. Ezra Klein gets this exactly right.

Five years after the start of the Iraq War, after seeing all of George W. Bush's deceptions and mismanagement, after seeing our forces chewed up and our prestige shredded, you might imagine Democrats would be reticent to allow any steps towards a confrontation with Iran, particularly under this president. But quite the opposite: 29 Democrats voted to go to war with Iraq. Five years later, 30 voted to push us towards war with Iran. They are still cowards, and they have still learned nothing.

Read all of Hersh's article.

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