George W. Bush is going to bomb Iran. This is the purpose of the "surge". No amount of troops is going to fix Iraq; they couldn't if they tried. If Bush wanted to fix Iraq, he'd give them jobs. People who are employed in decent jobs can figure out how to live with their neighbors. More American troops in the Persian Gulf are not going to quell violence in Iraq any more than the ones already there are.
George W. Bush is going to bomb Iran. And there may be almost nothing we can do to stop it.
Iran has a single trump card - their nuclear program. I share the doubts that Bush can destroy the whole thing. There will be no repeat of Israel's surgical removal of the nuclear ambitions of Saddam Hussein. But Bush can take out enough of Iran's nuclear facilities to knock them back a few more years in the development of a feasible weapon. That is all he needs to bomb - that is, until Iran makes its move.
And that's what the surge is for. Ostensibly, it's about Iraq. Nobody thinks that Iraq needs more American soldiers. And it doesn't today. But Bush is sending them anyway, because he knows what he's about to do, and Iraq is going to need more soldiers when the Shiite forces sympathetic to Iran erupt in violence.
The first attack in this final war against Iran has already occured. You read about it, I'm sure. The White House excised a number of passages from an op-ed in the New York Times that talked about the history of this administration's secret negotiations with Iran. Any mention of Iran's critical help in forming the Afghan government now in place? Gone. Any word of Bush's constant double-dealing with the Iranians over people you may not have heard of, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Mujaheddin-e Khalq? Blacked out. And any mention of Iran's 2003 offer to put everything on the table, including recognition of Israel? The Times and the two authors of the piece, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, were threatened with criminal prosecution if they were to put words like that into print.
I know about all of this "secret" material, because none of it was secret. Leverett and Mann published their sources, all mainstream media with the exception of a report or two from Leverett's think tank, the Century Foundation. All of the things marked out of this op-ed by the White House are in the public domain. And yet the Bush Administration felt so threatened by this op-ed that they pulled out their little black markers and crossed out any hint of a peace-seeking Iran being played by a cynical America for all it could get.
Why? Because Bush is about to bomb Iran. Any talk of how Iran was making some genuine offers for peace (back before they were spinning any centrifuges) and how Iran was working with the United States to bring stability to the region, all of that is counterproductive. The Bush Administration isn't a slave to reality - it makes reality.
A reality to be ignored: Before 9/11, Iran had built up a large number of contacts among the various Afghan warlords. After 9/11, the Iranians worked those connections above and beyond in cooperation with the United States to stabilize Afghanistan under the interim government. James Dobbins, a participant in that accomplishment, explains:
Two weeks after the fall of Kabul, all the major elements of the Afghan opposition came together at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Bonn. The objective was to create a broadly based successor government to the Taliban. As the U.S. representative at that gathering, I worked both with the Afghan delegations and with the other national representatives who had the greatest influence among them, which is to say the Iranian, Russian and Indian envoys. All these delegations proved helpful. None was more so than the Iranians. On two occasions Iranian representatives made particularly memorable contributions. The original version of the Bonn agreement, drafted by the United Nations and amended by the Afghans who were present, neglected to mention either democracy or the war on terrorism. It was the Iranian representative who spotted these omissions and successfully urged that the newly emerging Afghan government be required to commit to both.
The second was even more decisive. The conference was in its final hours. The German chancellor was due to arrive momentarily for the closing ceremony. Yet we still lacked agreement on the central issue: composition of an interim Afghan government. The Northern Alliance was insisting on 18 of 25 ministerial portfolios, which would have marginalized other opposition groups. From 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. the four key envoys -- those from Washington, Tehran, Moscow and New Delhi -- worked along with the U.N. representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, and our German host to persuade the recalcitrant Northern Alliance delegate to make the necessary compromises.
Two weeks later President Hamid Karzai and his new cabinet were inaugurated in Kabul. The most senior foreign delegation was headed by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who had stopped in Herat on his way in to pick up the one warlord, Ismail Khan, whose attendance and support for the new government was most in doubt. At the Tokyo donors' conference the following month, Iran pledged $500 million in aid to Afghan reconstruction, by far the largest sum from any neighboring state or developing nation.
(That's from Dobbin's May 2004 op-ed in the Washington Post, by the way. I had to buy a monthly pass to get it, but it's all open source, it's public domain. No classified information was released in the publishing of that article.)
Later on, Iran was asked by Karzai and Washington to keep a particularly nasty anti-American cleric Gulbiddin Hekmatyar in their country. Washington wanted Iran to keep him close, keep him safe. Tehran agreed, but they asked that Washington not accuse them of harboring terrorists. That would be a pretty nasty trick, don't you think? Ask a country to keep a terrorist under the equivalent of house arrest, and then accuse them openly of supporting terrorists?
Bush did so. Not six weeks after the Bonn negotiations, not a month after the Hekmatyar request, Bush declared Iran a member in good standing of the "axis of evil".
Hekmatyar left Iran soon after. As the redacted op-ed says, "the Islamic Republic could not be seen to be harboring terrorists." A year later, Bush got to designate him a terrorist. He's still in Afghanistan, and while he thinks the recent defeat of Republicans is proof that America will be pushed out of Afghanistan like the Soviets, he's endorsing George W. Bush for a third term. Bush is our Brezhnev, he says. He's great for business.
After all, look how Bush handled the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK). MEK is "an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq... that is on a U.S. State Department list of terrorist groups." Saddam used these guys to pull off attacks in Iran. The United States had been meeting regularly with Iran after 9/11, working out day-to-day matters in the region. The Washington Post reports:
At one of the meetings, in early January, the United States signaled that it would target the Iraq-based camps of the Mujaheddin- e Khalq ...After the camps were bombed, the U.S. military arranged a cease-fire with the group, infuriating the Iranians. Some Pentagon officials, impressed by the military discipline and equipment of the thousands of MEK troops, began to envision them as a potential military force for use against Tehran, much like the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
We told Tehran we would target a terrorist organization, and then we decided that the terrorists might be able to help us take out Tehran. Let that sink in a minute.
[Richard] Armitage said it was a mistake for the U.S. military to have arranged a cease-fire agreement with the MEK during the war, a decision that alarmed Iran. "We shouldn't have been signing a cease-fire with a foreign terrorist organization," he said.
Wow, Richard. You think?
The United States then told Iran on May 3 that they were going to disarm MEK. We also discussed exchanging prisoners, al-Qaeda members in custody in Iran for MEK prisoners in Iraq. But Armitage "ruled out such a deal":
..."because we can't be sure of the way they'd be treated," referring to the MEK members. He said officials were questioning MEK members to determine who had terrorist connections. "In my understanding, a certain number of those do," he said, adding that they will face charges.
Hold that thought. Hold the thought that Iran had been given our word that we would target the MEK. Hold onto the thought that we'd instead started touting them as a force to help topple Iran. Hold onto the thought that we'd then given our word about disarming these terrorists, although we wouldn't do any prisoner exchanges, not even for al-Qaeda prisoners.
You still don't have the full context, yet:
Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces..., an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.
Everything was on the table. Everything. Peace in the Middle East. George W. Bush had it in his hand.
What did we do? We scolded the Swiss diplomats who had passed it on to us, and then we started making nice with terrorists who hated Iran.
Nine days after the May 3rd meeting in which we promised to disarm MEK, terrorist bombings erupted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The US blamed Iran, and cut off talks. Some other countries tried to get the United States and Iran back to the table but failed.
Did you go to the link? Because today, it's clear who did those attacks: al-Qaeda. Hekmatyar's compatriots. Osama's army. The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
Bush has never wanted peace with Iran. There will be no win-win situation with this president and Iran, because Bush is playing to win on his terms alone, the way that he was able to play Libya's recent capitulation to the West.
But Iran's not doing the Gaddafi shuffle. It's always had more support in the region than Gaddafi ever did. Iran's been a fly in the American ointment since 1979. And now, after being rebuffed repeated in a quest for peace, Iran is back on the nuclear path.
So people, get ready. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid can talk all day long about the first hundred hours. We can start considering our options for the 2008 presidential primary. Hey, what are your plans for the New Year?
George W. Bush is going to bomb Iran.
Any references not linked in this piece are to Washington Post articles available only for a price on the web. They are from Leverett and Mann's citations, and are:
“Iran’s Leader Condemns Saudi Attacks,” The Washington Post, May 15, 2003
“Time to Deal With Iran,” The Washington Post, May 6, 2004
“In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran’s Offer of Dialogue: Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity,” The Washington Post, June 18, 2006
“U.S. Ready to Resume Talks With Iran, Armitage Says,” The Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2003
“U.S. Eyes Pressing Uprising in Iran: Officials Cite Al Qaeda’s Link, Nuclear Program,” The Washington Post, May 25, 2003