Friday, May 25, 2007

Who is in charge at the White House?

Both of these items suggest that Vice President Cheney is running his own foreign policy regarding Iran and the new war he wants to start, and that having had his position rebuffed by the President, he is now attempting to make an "end run" around Bush to "narrow" Bush's options:
The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.
It should also be pointed out that just because Cheney is opposed does not mean that the President's position is wise. To the contrary, his recently-leaked "non-lethal" plan to "destabilize" Iran smacks of the same kind of wishful-thinking and weak analysis that motivated the Iraq War:
President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.
Great. So either this was an intentional leak intended to put more "pressure" on Iran (perhaps intended to lead to some Iranian counteraction that could be intrepreted as a cause for a real war), or someone is letting us know how close we are coming to creating another failed state in the middle east.

Even assuming that we wildly succeeded in our plan to "destabilize" Iran and we actually overthrew the government, what are the REALISTIC chances that this would lead to a pro-U.S. government, or at the very least, a new regime that is LESS hostile to us, rather than another new region in chaos (see, e.g., Iraq) where terrorists can base and train, and the citizens are motivated by the belief that we are the ones responsible for the chaos?

And given our experience in Iraq, where apparently nobody bothered to make plans for how an invasion can create a friendly liberal democracy, are we actually doing contingency planning this time for the possibility that everything doesn't magically turn out OK in Iran?



Above: Underpants gnomes collect underpants for profit
Below: The gnomes' business model
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