Thursday, January 11, 2007

Not just Escalation -- Expansion too

Bush was very clear last night that he isn't just planning to escalate the Iraq war by sending 21,500 more troops. No, he intends to expand the war into neighboring countries, Iran and Syria, too. He could not have been more clear:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
On that note, Digby has some further reading on our plans for Iran.

Here's some more sobering news from Think Progress:
Also today, the White House released a Powerpoint presentation with details about the president’s new policy. “Increase operations against Iranian actors” was listed in the “Key Tactical Shifts” section.

The New York Times notes, “One senior administration official said this evening that the omission of the usual wording about seeking a diplomatic solution [to the Iranian nuclear stand-off] ‘was not accidental.’”
Glenn Greenwald lists other recent indications that there is serious movement toward a new war with Iran.

Ominously, we have news this morning that the U.S. military just raided an Iranian consulate in the Kurdistan area of Iraq, detaining six.

But not so fast: Juan Cole is skeptical that Iran and Syria are the real targets. He sees Bush planning a frontal assault on the Mahdi Army, which "will cause enormous trouble in the Shiite south."

Update (1/11/07 @ 7:45 p.m.):

We could be in even more trouble than we know. Steve Clemons at the Washington Note is reporting on rumors that Bush has already signed a secret order for war with Iran and Syria:
Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.

The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
Obviously, rumors are just rumors, but the President put quite a bit of fuel on the fire with his statement about "disrupting" and "interrupting" support from Iran and Syria to Iraqi partisans. Senator Biden appears to be taking the idea seriously, informing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that confronting Iran without congressional approval will provoke a "constitutional confrontation." Senator Hagel agreed:
Some of us remember 1970, Madame Secretary, and that was Cambodia, and when our government lied to the American people and said we didn't cross the border going into Cambodia. In fact we did. I happen to know something about that, as do some on this committee.

So, Madame Secretary, when you set in motion the kind of policy that the president is talking about here, it's very, very dangerous. Matter of fact, I have to say, Madame Secretary, that I think this speech given last night by this president represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out. I will resist it -- (interrupted by applause.)
Max Speak You Listen draws the parallel between last night and April 30, 1970, when Nixon "offered his case for expanding the war to Cambodia" but "in the context of a commitment to disengage." He also offers this food for thought:
Others will take the time to debunk the raft of distortions served up in the speech. I only want to highlight one fundamental piece of illogic to which some Democrats are susceptible. This idea that leaving would be a disaster, therefore the U.S. should try anything.

If leaving would be a disaster, dicking around for nine months and then leaving would be somewhat more of a disaster. The question remains, what are the chances of success resulting from a prolonged occupation. If the value added is negligible, it doesn't offset the sunk cost. The war is over. Now we're just debating how bad it's going to be.
If you missed Keith Olbermann's show last night before the President's speech, here's the link to his review and analysis of the President's record of credibility. (hint: there isn't any)

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