Back in April, I asked:
"If both the Iranian mullahs and the Bush administration both believe they'll gain politically from an American attack on Iran, how likely is it that the attack will happen
Keep that question in mind when examining the following recent domestic developments:
The US is now pursuing and arresting Iranians in Iraq. As national security adviser Hadley put it, “We intend to deal with [Iran]
by interdicting and disrupting activities in Iraq, sponsored by Iran, that are putting our troops and Iraqis at risk."
BTW, I like Cheney's take on the roles of the executive and the legislature
: "[Bush is] the guy who's got to decide how to use the force and where to deploy the force. And Congress obviously has to support the effort through the power of the purse. So they've got a role to play, and we certainly recognize that. But you also cannot run a war by committee."
Congress "has to" support the president. Interesting. They taught me different in law school, but that was Cornell, a notoriously liberal institution. Probably I was being subverted.
Question: What happens if the Iranians we pursue inside Iraq fight back?
Answer: We kill some of them. They kill some of us.
Question: What if, after engaging our troops in Iraq, Iranians flee back into Iran?
Answer: We pursue them and kill them there, perhaps with others. They kill or capture some of us.
Question: What happens at that point?
Answer: The administration has the casus belli it needs to attack Iran. We launch air strikes at Iranian nuclear and command and control facilities. Think adding 20,000 troops to the war is "doubling down?" Try war with Iran, instead.
But wait... doesn't congress need to authorize that sort of thing?
Not according to the administration. See the links above. And leaving the Constitutional niceties aside, the advantage of an attack on American troops is that it leaves Americans at home feeling pugnacious enough to go to war without those awkward Congressional hearings. And Congress, sniffing the political wind, can be counted on to play along.
See: Remember the Maine. See also: The Tonkin Gulf incident.
Here's the heart of the matter: If you believe Bush, Cheney, et al are decent, responsible, competent leaders, you'll trust their judgment and their motives on how far to push things with Iran. If you are cynical, you'll suspect that they're maneuvering us into war with Iran -- partly to retard Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, partly to distract from and dilute their failure in Iraq. If you're really cynical, you might think many of our recent military maneuvers in the region -- the extra troops, the deployment of a second aircraft carrier and escort ships
-- are preparation for a fait accompli attack on Iran.
Imagine this conversation:
Cheney: We really have to do something about those Iranian nukes, Mr. President. It's bad enough Kim Jung Il went nuclear on our watch.
Bush: I agree, I agree... but the country is so disillusioned with war, and, though it's unfair, with our ability to wage it competently. They'll never go for an attack on Iran. Even the recent escalation... I was told I couldn't call it that. We had to package it as just a "surge."
Cheney: I'm not saying it'll be easy. But Ahmadinejad, with the Holocaust denial conference and the rest, plays into our hands. He's the perfect pin-up boy for evil. And we know there are Iranians in Iraq, training the insurgents to make IEDs that can penetrate the armor of an M-1 tank.
Bush: Wow. Are explosive devices that can penetrate an M-1 really still improvised?
Cheney: Never mind that. The point is, the Iranians are meddling in Iraq. If someone complains about our hunting them down, we say the complainers don't support our troops. Eventually, the Iranians shoot back, or we chase them in to Iran in "hot pursuit." Our forces engage Iranian forces on Iranian soil and we take some casualties. The American people will demand that our fallen be avenged and that Iran be punished. With a second carrier in the region, we can immediately launch air strikes against the Bushehr reactor and other nuclear sites. We'll simultaneously stop the Iranian nuclear threat, redeem the whole enterprise in Iraq, and restore our reputations. You'll be remembered not as the man who lost in Iraq, but as the man who prevented the mad mullahs from going nuclear.
Bush: I like it.
"Meddling," by the way, is the administration buzzword on Iranians in Iraq. It's an interesting word. We don't meddle, only other countries do... plus, it invites such wonderful verbal accouterments. For example, if you're a meddler, I feel you deserve to have lackeys. And who doesn't want his own lackey? And meddlers have goatees, which they stroke nefariously... they also occasionally let out a sinister "mwhahahahahah" laugh while contemplating the fruits of their meddling.
On a more serious note: the "meddling" verbiage concerns me. It's one of those indications that we don't understand how others perceive us. If we don't understand how others perceive us, how can we be effective in the world?
Prediction: We will attack Iran as soon as we have sufficient forces in the region. At this point, as the fictional Cheney above points out, the administration motive is compelling. Creating the casus belli is easy. The rest is just logistics.