It's Iran, Stupid!
A few years ago, a good friend of ours, with several PhDs and a very good track record at reading between the lines and sensing what the administration is really up to, said that all of this (meaning Afghanistan and Iraq) were really about Iran. He said that's why the administration never cared how well those fledgling democracies developed...that it's not about spreading democracy in the Middle East...it's about creating just enough chaos to let the oil companies take what they can and keep the new state governments occupied while we positioned our troops to take down the Iranian government.
That struck me as rather far fetched...until he told me to look at a map:
Then there's the recent build-up of our Naval forces in the Persian Gulf, including two aircraft carriers (is there room in there for two???)...which the US says is merely a deterrent, not indications of a pending attack on Iran, but then there's the rather ominous (or at least nebulous) mention in Bush's speech about sending Patriot Missles to Iraq:
We will expand intelligence sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies.
As a diarist on Kos noted:
You don't use a 17 foot long surface launched missile with large radars and other trucks that tracks incoming aircraft, helicopters and long range missiles in an urban street battles. You would use it to defend against incoming Iranian aircraft and Scud missiles.
And note that even when talking about the diplomatic aspect of resolving the conflict in Iraq, the President, despite the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and countless other informed folks that they be included, isolates Iran and Syria and frames our dealing with them as hostile, first and foremost:
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 will 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.
I'm no fan of Iran, mind you, but given that peace in Iraq is unlikely to come without their participation, this poking-them-in-the-eye rhetoric makes the rest of his argument that we actually want peace for Iraq ring false.
I'll end this with a sobering thought about the difference between attacking Iran and invading Iraq, as provided by a diarist on Kos:
I truly hope I'm just being paranoid, but it doesn't look like it.
Five days ago I had dinner with one of the officers on a ship in one the carrier groups heading to the Gulf. He is an officer who has served at the Pentagon and spent time training at the War College. He is not a gung-ho type, rather he is the type of considered, intelligent officer who gives you hope for the military and pride in our country. ... But during converstaion, the subject of casualties in Iraq came up and his wife began looking nervous so I said, "Well, at least Iraq has no Air Force." The officer turned to me with a look that suggested I was the dumbest person on the planet and said, very slowly and clearly, "Yes, but Iran does."