* patrick coburn:
"It is an admission of defeat. Iraq is turning into one of the world's bloodiest battlefields in which nobody is safe. Blind to this reality, Tony Blair said yesterday that Britain could safely cut its forces in Iraq because the apparatus of the Iraqi government is growing stronger.
In fact the civil war is getting worse by the day. Food is short in parts of the country. A quarter of the population would starve without government rations. Many Iraqis are ill because their only drinking water comes from the highly polluted Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
"9/11 was an opportunity for the PNAC crowd to play their Great Game over resources and domination. They are not going to stop playing it and I suspect that a Democratic administration will be stuck carrying it on to some degree now whether we like it or not. The Republicans have done a fine job of messing things up so completely that it's going to be very, very difficult to extricate ourselves from it. The most we can hope for is that we find someone sane, competent and at least slightly visionary to manage this historic miscalculation and convince the rest of the world that we have not gone completely off the rails."
"The only "question" any of the multiple talk show hosts who've been interviewing Feith should have asked him is, "You were wrong. Why don't you just apologize?""
"We really ought to be throwing Douglas Feith a party.
After all, he's been vindicated. Cleared of criminal activity. Relieved of the burden of possible jail time.
And in this president's administration, that's one of the highest accomplishments for which a civil servant can hope.
The Bush administration's supporters seem perfectly satisfied that Feith didn't act illegally.
In their minds, this constitutes some kind of accomplishment."
"There has been a noticeable shift in the rhetoric emanating from the proponents of war with Iran, almost certainly due to the perception that armed conflict with Tehran will not be as easy a sell as was Iraq. The shift is most marked within the Bush Administration itself, where daily attacks on Iran that started with the State of the Union message on January 10th have largely disappeared and where both civilian and military government spokesmen have even begun contradicting each other on the level of threat posed by Tehran.
Given the current lull, it might almost seem as if the war party has finally had a reality check and is backing down, but to assume that such is the case would be premature. This respite is in the nature of a smokescreen, a tactical shift intended to mask the strategic decision that has already been made to strike thousands of targets in Iran. Many elements can still come together to start a war sooner rather than later. It is now being widely reported that the United States is carrying out so-called "black operations" inside Iran by special forces as well as forays that have included bombings and assassinations by dissidents that the Pentagon supports. Iran has yet to respond to these operations aggressively, and if it does, there is potential for an armed clash in which the US will be likely to claim interference with the right of "hot pursuit" while chasing "terrorists." Also, the Persian Gulf is becoming particularly crowded with US warships. There is potential for another Gulf of Tonkin-like incident with Administration figures presumably prepared to cite an incident involving Iranian warships or coastal defenses as a pretext for a massive counter-strike.
AIPAC's formulation that the option of force "must remain on the table" when dealing with Iran has been repeated like a mantra by numerous politicians and government officials, not too surprisingly as AIPAC writes the briefings and position papers that many Congressmen unfortunately rely on. Knowing that to cross the Lobby is perilous, Congressmen from both parties squirm and become uneasy when pressured by AIPAC to "protect Israel," even if it means yet another unwinnable war for the United States. The neocons know full well that if a war with Iran were to be started either inadvertently or by design, few within America's political system would be brave enough to stand up in opposition."