If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a "defensive" U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
* josh, shrill:
"This is the preeminent, really the only question in American politics today: Do we want to go to war with Iran or not? With the escalating chaos in Iraq and the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, is it in our interests or not to get into a shooting war with Iran? The debate over the 'surge' of US troops into Baghdad is significant in its own way, but it pales in comparison to this one.
I've always viewed the fears that the White House would try expand the war into Iran with a mix of deep skepticism, fascination and latent foreboding. Logically, it makes no sense on any number of counts. But the last half dozen years has taught us all that that's simply not a significant obstacle. There are any number of ridiculous gambits I was sure these guys wouldn't try before they did try them.
Again, the 'sensible' interpretation of what's happening right now is that the administration is trying to regain control of the situation in Iraq. And to further that aim they're rattling their sabres at Iran to get them to back off and stop making trouble. That's the sensible explanation. But we're not dealing with sensible people. And much more important, the folks who are running this show are simply too stupid to be trusted to execute such a delicate and perilous feint.
I don't mean they're dumb people. I'm sure they have high IQs. Most went to prestigious universities. They have lists of accomplishments. But the record of the last six years shows so many mistakes, such a record of incapability and incompetence, so many misjudgements, screw-ups and boners that there's no other suitable word.
Through plan or imbecility (and most likely, given who were talking about, both) they're drifting toward war with Iran.
I've said this before. But perhaps it seems like hyperbole. So I'll say it again. The president's interests are now radically disjoined from the country's. We can handle a setback like Iraq. It really is a big disaster. But America will certainly surive it. President Bush -- in the sense of his legacy and historical record -- won't. It's all Iraq for him. And Iraq is all disaster. So, from his perspective (that is to say, through the prism of his interests rather than the country's -- which he probably can't separate) reckless gambits aimed at breaking out of this ever-tightening box make sense.
Think of it like this. He's a death row prisoner concocting a thousand-to-one plan to break out of prison. For him, those are good odds. The rest of us are doing three months for disorderly conduct. And he's trying to rope us into his harebrained scheme. Like I said, his interests are very different from ours.
Speak up. We're on the edge of the abyss."
"The Bush/Cheney team is plainly doing its best to provoke a cassus belli that will justify a military response against Iran -- an undertaking that the Iranian regime itself seems happy to help along. Democrats are mostly either playing along as well, or else sitting on their hands hoping that nothing will happen.
That's a bad idea. Pretty speeches about how you regret voting for the Iraq war are all very fine, but the real test is how you react to the next big marketing campaign for war. It's coming, it's going to seem plausible, and it's going to whip a lot of people into the usual frenzy. Any Democratic politician who hasn't thought about how they're going to deal with this is being willfully delusional."
"I feel, once again, as if I'm watching this take place under water. It's all there, I can see it, but it's all a bit distorted and everything is moving in slow motion. I'm screaming, but it comes out muffled and imprecise. The Bush administration is provoking a war with Iran, in real time, on television and we are just watching it happen.
I also just heard CNN reporting that the administration plans to avoid a repeat of Colin Powell's presentation to the UN that "was convincing but turned out to be inaccurate." Whatever. They don't care. These people have absolutely no credibility and they are counting on the news media to be their slack-jawed(and war-ratings hungry) selves --- and the nation to be paralyzed and unbelieving until it's too late.
If this country allows the Bush administration to run their game again and start yet another war, we'd better get ready to see our lives change in some fundamental ways. The world will not forgive us --- and we shouldn't forgive ourselves. This is very, very serious."