As American troops storm what is, or was, an Iranian consulate at least that’s what the Iraqi government calls it, in spite of American denials and the president accuses Tehran of arming and aiding Iraqi insurgents, the answer to the question "Why are we in Iraq?" should begin to dawn on even the dullest. The answer: Iran. We’re in Iraq so we can go after the mullahs in Tehran, and, perhaps, those other Ba’athists in Syria.
All indications point to a strike at the Iranians before Bush leaves office. The appointment of a Navy guy, Adm. William J. "Fox" Fallon, at present head of the U.S. Pacific Command, to oversee U.S. operations in the Middle East, is widely seen as a sign that war with Iran is on the table, if not yet a sure thing. A U.S. attack on Iran would be a naval and air operation, and Fallon, a former deputy director for operations with Joint Task Force Southwest Asia in Riyadh, is surely qualified for the job. As Pat Buchanan put it, "What Fallon does not know about securing streets, he does know about taking out targets from the air and keeping sea lanes open in a time of war."
Seymour Hersh reported on the gathering storm over Iran last year, and now we may have more concrete evidence that something big is afoot. Laura Rozen, writing in The American Prospect, says that a presidential "finding," or perhaps a secret White House directive may have been issued:
"There is evidence that, while Bush probably has not signed such a finding regarding Iran, he has recently done so regarding Iranian-supported Hezbollah in Lebanon; further, there is evidence that he may have signed an executive order or national security presidential directive regarding a new, more aggressive policy on Iran. Such directives are not required to be reported to Congress they are more in the realm of the president communicating to authorized people inside the administration his expectations for a policy."
And the noise level coming from the pro-war peanut gallery is getting louder: Israel’s lobby in the U.S. has long pushed for aggressive American action against the supposedly nuke-seeking mullahs, and an Israeli general, Oded Tira, recently came out explicitly with the thrust of the Israeli campaign:
"President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and U.S. newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.
"We must turn to Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they publicly support immediate action by Bush against Iran. We should also approach European countries so that they support American actions in Iran, so that Bush will not be isolated in the international arena again."
The Lobby won’t have to lean too hard on the Democratic Party, as Chairman Howard Dean made all too clear on Hardball the other night:
"Chris Matthews: Will your party stand up against a war with Iran? It looks like the president is sort of edging towards military action against Iran?
"Howard Dean: You know the great shame, among many shames, of going into Iraq, was we picked the wrong enemy. Iran is a danger. We’ve got our troops pinned down in the wrong place. Saddam Hussein was a terrible person, but not a danger to the United States. Iran is a danger. Obviously, I don’t think there’s much stomach among the American people for a war with Iran given what’s gone on for the last three and a half years in Iraq, but we are clearly going to have to stand up to Iran.
"CM: Does that mean attack them? Are we going to commit an act of war against Iran?
"HD: I think there’s absolutely no stomach for that whatsoever either in the Congress or among the American people after what’s been going on the last three and a half years in Iraq."
So the official Democratic Party spokesman’s line on the crisis in the Middle East goes something like this: Gee, it’s too bad we’re stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, when the real imperative is to attack Iran. We’re in the wrong war and, thanks to George W. Bush, the American people have "no stomach" for attacking what amounts to a genuine threat.
You’ll notice, if you follow the link and read the whole quote, how Dean wimped out in the end, only agreeing with the Bushies’ rush to war as far as imposing sanctions. However, you can bet Dean and his fellow Democrats, especially presidential wannabes and the congressional leadership, are not about to stand up to the War Party when the bombs begin to fall on Tehran.
For months, Antiwar.com has been reporting growing indications of a U.S. strike on Iran, and certainly such a move, contra Dean, is politically doable. After all, Dean and his fellow Democrats won’t say boo about it, except, perhaps, to chide them for not doing it soon enough and certainly Gen. Tira won’t have to push Hillary all that much, since her present position is more hawkish than the Bush administration’s. (Speaker Nancy Pelosi is no piker when it comes to Iran, either).
In the end, events on the ground in Iraq and environs won’t determine if and when we go to war with Tehran: domestic politics is the determining factor, and, as Chairman Dean has shown, the conditions couldn’t be better as far as the War Party is concerned.
In this context, at least, the "surge" begins to make some sense especially if, as can be expected, it is a "long surge" carried out by an administration that likes to push the envelope (and meets little resistance in doing so). An attack on Iran will be centered around the Persian Gulf, but is bound to have reverberations on the ground in Iraq. A "surge" 20,000 U.S. troops, and possibly more would buttress American redoubts for the inevitable backlash and reinforce our defenses against a flanking counterattack.
The "antiwar" Democrats are way behind the times: they are still screaming about Iraq, when Iran is the real issue and it’s one they are just as bad on, if not worse, than the Republicans. Which means that the long-suffering American people are not about to find relief from this endless war anytime soon unless, of course, it is in the form of some as yet undiscovered political maverick who will rise out of the miasma of American politics and save us from both wings of the War Party.