The Iran Conundrum
I have not been following the Iran issue and the Bush Government's stance on the openly anti-american position of Iran. Partly because it is still early in the game, there are lots of bureaucratic and political wranglings that will occur before US does anything of substance against Iran, like use its force.
Apparently, the Bush Government has been underplaying the Iran affair, may be deliberately. Wretchard from The Belmont Club notes:
Whatever the truth to these rumors, Rumsfeld's press conference produced another gem on the arming of the Iraqi insurgency by Iran. After the media asked precisely one question about the Tri-Border area ("Q: Will you be talking about the tri-border issue in Paraguay? A: I think the cooperation that the countries in the tri-border area have demonstrated has been a useful and constructive thing. It's been good. ...") they skipped straight to the subject of the Middle East.
Media: There have been reports about Iran specifically facilitating -- I mean you've addressed them a little bit. But over the weekend there was an even more detailed report in Time Magazine about Iran’s Revolutionary Guards setting up a specific unit in Iraq to carry out car bombings against Coalition forces. Are you aware of those kinds of reports? Do you think Iran's involvement is getting more intensive as the process of writing the constitution goes along?
Rumsfeld: I've not seen that report. I see intelligence reports and we know that we're finding Iranian weapons inside of the country. They don't just get there by accident. They don't fly there. And we know that Iran has a system of government it would like to replicate in Iraq, and we know the system of government they have with a handful of clerics running the place and telling everyone want to do is fundamentally inconsistent with the kind of a constitution that's currently being drafted in Iraq. And an Iraq that is democratic and representative will stand in stark contrast to Iran.
So one ought not to be surprised that they're engaged in the kind of activities that they're engaged in. They're making a mistake, in my view. I think they're going to have to live with their neighbors like any country does over time.
Media: -- Iranian weapons on more than one occasion?
Rumsfeld: I've got another [inaudible] secure videoconference --
Media: These discoveries in the past couple of months -- What do you think it indicates?
Rumsfeld: What I just said.
Some Belmont Club readers have repeatedly written to ask why Secretary Rumsfeld would be at pains to downplay Iranian intervention in Iraq -- both before and after Operation Iraqi Freedom -- when these revelations would serve to strengthen the linkage between terrorism and it's state sponsors, a connection whose existence has been repeatedly denied. (Speculation alert) One possible reason for turning a public blind eye to Iranian belligerence is that any administration which very strongly emphasized it would logically be compelled to do something about it, a step which the Bush administration may be unprepared to take or believes cannot be sustained by domestic political consensus.
Wretchard goes on to define a parallel between this scenario and the Spanish Civil War. Interesting read.
The seemingly inescapable fact is that Iran is waging war on us, we are well aware of it, and we are not responding, even though most Iranians are dreaming of the day that the United States supports them against the mullahs. Hardly a day goes by without anti-regime demonstrations in one Iranian city or another, involving students, workers, intellectuals, and even some very important clergymen. The number of Iranian dissidents on hunger strike is growing. Akbar Ganji hovers between life and death in a hospital in Tehran. Yet, aside from occasional statements of compassion, there is no hint of action from the Bush administration.
It is early days yet. The Bush administration will have to do something about the exit strategy in Iraq before it goes into a confrontational mode with Iran. The Iranians know it as well and they will make all the noise that they can till then.
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