Topic: Bush Administraiton
The IAEA report on Iran has made its way to the Security Council, but beyond some mild chastisement there's no sign of any "meaningful consequences" being imposed on the recalcitrant Persians, despite Dick Cheney's fevered thundering at the Aipac meeting this week. A draft of the Council's report, which the NYT writes will come out some time next week, says they continue to hope a negotiated solution can be found "that guarantees Iran's nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes." And now the Iranian portfolio goes back to the IAEA which will be asked to report back "within a very short time frame," but doesn't say what that might be.
John Bolton was being characteristically diplomatic yesterday, saying all options are on the table, including the military option. Bolton said the U.S. would "proceed in a deliberate and orderly fashion," but, "how long and to what extent we pursue this in the Council, I think, principally rests in the hands of Iran." So, in other words, we'll give this talking crap a little more time and then we'll lower the boom. (You know, you can't just move a carrier task force or two into position over night.)
Sometimes I wonder who all this saber rattling is really intended to scare; the Iranians or the Russians. In the past few days there have been some rumblings in the Op-Ed pages and in policy circles that maybe Russia isn't such a good friend after all. Those in the administration who are advocating for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian crisis might be running out of time. The idea that we should let the Russians use their leverage with Iran to get them to come around is rapidly losing its cache. Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov didn't help the Russian position by saying that all the talk about punitive measures reminded him of the run up to the Iraq invasion. "That looks so deja vu. I don't believe that we should be engaging in something that might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are convinced there is no military solution to this crisis."
That sort of talk isn't going to go down well in the Oval Office. We've already seen how W. reacts to any point of view that is contrary to his preconceived notions. Whenever Congress gets uppity he threatens vetoes and when it comes to other countries getting the idea they're sovereign nations with their own interests he brings out the big stick. I've heard a lot of speculation that the neocons are on the outs in the administration these days, but judging by the speeches at the Aipac shindig, I don't buy it.
Condi Rice is doing a masterful job of appearing to be the reasonable one in all of this, but she's still the same old "mushroom cloud" lady, pushing the noecon agenda. In front of the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday, while testifying about Iraq, she had the unmitigated gall to say, "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran." (OK, so we screwed the pooch on Iraq, we'll get it right the next time.) Naturally, things are pretty much under control in Iraq, so Iran would have to be the biggest threat we face. The fact that we're still losing 10 or 12 soldiers a week and there are several refrigerator trucks parked behind the Baghdad morgue full of corpses that were piling up on the floors last week because there wasn't enough space to store them, should lead any reasonable person to the conclusion that Iran is a continuing and growing threat.
Rummy's plan for civil war in Iraq:
For his part, Rummy was back in fine fettle assuring Senator Robert Byrd that any money Congress gave to him wouldn't be spent to put our troops "right in the middle of a civil war," as Byrd put it. "The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the --- from a security standpoint --- have the Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they're able to." Boy, that's reassuring. There is no civil war right now, "by most experts’ calculations," but if one were to break out, we'd leave it to the security forces; the same security forces who are presently rounding up large numbers of Sunnis and killing them. That's some plan.
Speaking of those security forces: The WaPo got some heat from the pentagon and the Iraqi government a while back when they reported that 1,300 Iraqis had been killed in the week following the Samarra mosque bombing, mainly involving sectarian killings. The Iraqi PM, Ibrahim Jafari, came out and said the actual number was 379 and then the General George Casey backed them up saying the WaPo report was exaggerated and inaccurate. It turns out now that an official in the Health Ministry, who wants to remain unnamed for fear of his life---no doubt afraid of the threat presented by Iran --- says a Sciri official came to the main morgue and ordered "government hospitals and morgues catalogue deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings." [WaPo](Gosh, I wonder why?) The U.N. human rights department in Baghdad cooberates this account saying that, "the current acting director is under pressure by the Interior Ministry in order not to reveal such information and to minimize the number of casualties."
So, what does Sciri have to say about this? Sciri spokesman Haitham al-Husseini says, "How can a Sciri official put pressure on authorities or people? I don't expect you can believe such a thing." Of course not, its not like the authorities at the morgue would in any way feel pressured by being knee deep in Sciri's handy work. Husseini adds, "This is part of the campaign that the enemies of Iraq are still trying to lead to confuse the situation." Right, al-Qaeda is suddenly concerned about their public image and is trying to blame all these execution style deaths on the Shiites. That makes sense. Or maybe, the Interior Ministry is trying to hide the fact that they're conducting a campaign of ethnic cleansing that they have no intention of stopping until all the Sunnis are either dead or pushed into the deserts of Anbar. Judging by the evidence at hand, and all the bodies, I'd have to go with the latter explanation.
The question is what are we going to do about it? All the hand wringing over what the new government is going to look like or who the PM will eventually wind up being seems somewhat academic at this point. (The elections in December seem like they were a million years ago.) Do we enable the killing by continuing to pretend that we're providing security in order for democracy and rebuilding to flourish or do we extract our troops before they're sucked into the middle of this maelstrom? Only the most deluded supporters of Bush could fail to see there's a full blown war going on. There's a whole new dynamic here and whoever comes out on top, now that this war is engaged, is who will wind up being in charge of Iraq. The only thing we can hope for is that we can somehow maintain some influence in Iraq through the Kurds, who seem to have stayed out of this mess so far. But then again, if they try to take advantage of this war between the Shiites and Sunnis to take over Kirkuk, then all bets are off.
This is a fine mess the Cheney/Rummy cabal has got us into, we'd better attack Iran!