Monday, February 12, 2007

Bush's Claims on Iran Receive Reality Check

Bush's failed presidency continues to embarrass an electorate that has caught on to Bush's ways. Most Americans do not want a third war. After a lot of unsubstantiated and muddled news recently that appears designed to exaggerate Iran's link to the insurgency in Iraq—at least on the Shiite side supposedly—and thereby to the deaths of some of our soldiers, Bush appears to be laying the groundwork for war with Iran.

Not so fast says General Pace. Here's the story from the Voice of America (hat tip to Steve Soto of The Left Coaster):
The top American military officer, General Peter Pace, declined Monday to endorse the conclusions of U.S. military officers in Baghdad, who told reporters on Sunday that the Iranian government is providing high-powered roadside bombs to insurgents in Iraq. General Pace made his comments during a visit to Australia, and VOA's Al Pessin reports from Canberra.

General Pace said he was not aware of the Baghdad briefing, and that he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion made there that the elite Quds brigade of Iran's Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents.

"We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this," he said. "It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it's clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."

When a general disagrees with the White House, the general is usually right—and on the retired list a few weeks later. We'll see if Pace maintains his position.

We know there are neoconservatives who openly urge war with Iran while disregarding the likely consequences of such a war. These neoconservatives have been dead wrong on repeated occassions when it comes to Iraq. And of course, the Bush Administration has been making a long series of blunders. There has been growing suspicion for some time that the Bush Administration is deliberately provoking Iran, or at the very least, looking for some excuse to start a war with Iran. It's not known if we will have a war with Iran or not, but there's been informed speculation for some time that in the delusional inner circle of the White House, a gamble on a third war would somehow make up for two wars that are not going well (although with British in charge under NATO control in Afghanistan, there has been at least some improvement of late). Congress needs to shut the door on further wars but the reality is that the Democrats will need some votes from the Republicans to shut that door.

It's been known from the beginning that Iraq had caches of conventional arms that Donald Rumsfeld failed to make sure were rounded up in his zeal to show what a quick war under a new military transformation would look like. We also have known for awhile that Rumsfeld and the White House were slow on stopping the looting in Baghdad as money and supplies were stolen by any number of people, including Saddam Hussein loyalists who planned to continue fighting. It's also been known that we did not have enough troops to stop the looting, secure the country and close down the borders to illegal traffic. Given enough time, it was inevitable that supplies would be smuggled in for the insurgents and probably various militias from different parts of the Middle East. Something to keep in mind is that there are probably weapons in the hands of insurgents and militias from most countries in the world that produce weapons. There should be no doubt that occassionally Americans are killed by insurgents with American-made equipment.

In his book, Fiasco, Thomas Ricks tells the story of a number of mistakes that were made in the middle phases of Bush's war in Iraq. Fiasco was finished in mid-2006 so this is information that has been around awhile; the following talks about a point Paul Wolfowitz tried to make around June 2003 as the insurgency was becoming evident:
At the time, Wolfowitz also was arguing that the situation in Iraq didn't qualify to be considered a war. "I think it is worth emphasizing that these guys lack the two classical ingredients in a so-called guerilla war, if that's what you want to say they are conducting," he said. "They lack the sympathy of the population, and they lack any serious source of external support." In retrospect, it appears that Wolfowitz was wrong on both counts: Iraqi sympathy for anti-American forces was growing, and external support was coalescing, because many top Iraqi Baathists had taken refuge in Syria, from where they were able to send in money and fighters, and also to where they could begin receiving aid from supporters in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and elsewhere in the Arab world. [pg. 170]

Before we do something stupid by racing off to attack Syria, it's important to remember that they helped us at critical points when Bush was still serious about focusing on al Qaida terrorists and not broadening his definition of his war on terror for political purposes. As for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, we consider ourselves allies of those countries but it is likely that individually people are sending help to the Sunni insurgents. Most of our troops who have been killed in Iraq were killed by Sunni insurgents who want nothing to do with Iran. It's a weird, schizoid situation. But attacking Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states because of some arms traffic would be a profound blunder. If that is true, then singling out Iran for possible military intervention because Bush and Cheney have an obsession with Iran would be no less of a strategic blunder. And even if war with Iran were necessary, the evidence shows that Bush and Cheney are the last men in America who should be in charge of what would be another fiasco in their hands.

Now I haven't covered everything here and I don't have time tonight to proofread closely what I've written, but bear this in mind: the Bush Administration depends on creating sufficient noise in the media to confuse everyone. But there's no reason to be confused. Bush and Cheney have no credibility left; when government officials controlled by them make claims, it's time to stop giving credibillity to those claims.

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