Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush's Surge Onto Iran?

There's little new that hasn't already been said about George W. Bush's speech to the nation last night concerning Iraq. As BarbinMD at Daily Kos points out (with links):
In the end, last night's speech was the same thing that George Bush has been saying for nearly four years. The only changes between the speech last night and the one in October is the additional 207 dead servicemen and women and Bush not saying:
"Absolutely, we're winning."
That and the announcement of his next pre-emptive war...
The fact Bush essentially said "the same thing" last night that he's being saying for years probably explains why NPR's "Morning Edition" host, Steve Inskeep, extemporized in a mid- morning intro to another story that "a lot of people are, well, laughing at Bush." You're not likely to catch NPR archiving that remark, but it came as he was introducing a report on this morning's Rice-Gates press conference.

While marshaling some recent evidence, also with links, Glenn Greenwald is less circumspect than Kos' BarbinMD or Inskeep:
I think there is a tendency to dismiss the possibility of some type of war with Iran because it is so transparently destructive and detached from reality that it seems unfathomable. But if there is one lesson that everyone should have learned over the last six years, it is that there is no action too extreme or detached from reality to be placed off limits to this administration. The President is a True Believer and the moral imperative of his crusade trumps the constraints of reality.
Greenwald wrote this before news reached the West that "US soldiers raided Iranian government offices in the Iraqi city of Irbil today, hours after George Bush pledged to 'seek out and destroy' Iran's networks in Iraq. " Attacking a foreign consulate and kidnapping their personnel is an act of war. You may remember our outrage when Iran did something similar to us in 1979.

To add to the list of ominous signs and signals, Condoleeza Rice will be touring the Middle East beginning the end of this week. Her ostensible purpose, according to the State Department spokesman who made the announcement a few days ago, is to seize an "opportunity... to make progress on the issue of a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security."

Trouble is, there is no such "opening" visible to anyone else, as veteran Middle East war correspondent Nick Burns pointed out at the same press conference:
What perplexes some people is why there would be a moment of opportunity when there is no consensus among the Palestinians about going forth with negotiations with the Israelis. Prime Minister Abbas you described as a partner for peace, but he doesn't lead the government, he doesn't even control much of the territory, witness the fact that the U.S. Government is devoting significant time and money to helping arm his forces.

So why is there -- why do you feel there's a significant opportunity here when at least on one side of the equation, the Palestinian side, there simply isn't consensus on peace, let alone a single authority who controls the territory you can negotiate with?
Coincidentally -- if you believe in coincidences -- newly confirmed Defense Department Secretary Robert Gates will be touring the Middle East at the same time as Rice; then the two of them will huddle in "an extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers" on January 28.

Equally disturbing, the U.S. now has at least two carrier groups in the Middle East, well within striking distance of Iran. Noting this, Prof. Michael Klare wrote late last week:
The recent replacement of General Abizaid by Admiral Fallon, along with other recent moves announced by the Defense Secretary, should give deep pause to anyone concerned about the prospect of escalation in the Iraq War. Contrary to the advice given by the Iraq Study Group, Bush appears to be planning for a wider war -- with much higher risk of catastrophic failure -- not a gradual and dignified withdrawal from the region.
As Robert Perry notes:

The choice of Fallon makes more sense if Bush foresees a bigger role for two aircraft carrier groups now poised off Iran’s coastline, such as support for possible Israeli air strikes against Iran’s nuclear targets or as a deterrent against any overt Iranian retaliation.

So. We have Bush uttering a direct threat against Iran last night... an act of war committed against Iran a few hours later... a huge U.S. Navy flotilla armed with nuclear weapons gathering in the immediate vicinity of Iran... the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense simultaneously calling on multiple Arab allies and neutrals in the Middle East... following which they attend "an extraordinary gathering" of NATO ministers at the end of the month.

'Real History Lisa' ticks off yet more warnings by "a CIA-friendly reporter, a former UN Weapons Inspector, a former CIA employee, and a former Navy Commander" to set up the question, "Are we going to war with Iran soon?"

When we put that very question yesterday to a knowledgeable military friend just back from exotic foreign climes, he said he "hoped" Bush wasn't that stupid or crazy.

But he just might be. As Greenwald says this morning:
For all the pious talk about the need to be "seriously concerned" and give "thoughtful consideration" to what will happen if we leave Iraq, there is a very compelling -- and neglected -- need to ponder what will happen if we stay and if we escalate. And the need for "serious concern" and "thoughtful consideration" extends to consequences not just in Iraq but beyond.

Amplification Dept.

In the comments section below, readers will find a link to an audio clip containing the remarks of NPR "Morning Edition" co-host Steve Inskeep, mentioned above. Here is a quick, home-made transcript--
[Inskeep]: I'm going to bring another voice into the conversation. That's NPR's Guy Raz who covers the military. And, Guy, have you learned anything more about what the additional troops will be doing once they get to Iraq?
[Raz]: Well, we understand clearly from Secetary Gates' comments just a few moments ago that he's not even sure how long this deployment will last. Ah, he was asked if this deployment was temporary and how long it'll take and he essentially said, "I don't know."
* * *
[Inskeep]: And elsewhere on this program today, Guy, we've heard NPR's Martin Kaste report on the response to this speech and you heard people, or rather military base [sic] guffawing, almost laughing at the president's speech last night. Little bit of cynicism there."
[Raz]: Yeah, I think so. And I think in part because the president really didn't indicate whether the Army will, uh, will be able to draw upon the Guard and the Reserves to the extent the Arm... ah, senior Army officers have asked to do so.
Meanwhile, this morning Condoleeza Rice continued the Bush administration's refusal to talk with Iran unless it first suspends enrichment of uranium activities.

Further Amplification Dept.

Inspired by Dan Froomkin's declaration of "open season on alternative explanations" for Bush's "new proposal" -- which "is so internally contradictory, so incremental, so problematically dependent on Iraqi good behavior, and so unlikely to galvanize public support" -- Moon Over Alabama also thought he heard last night, "Bush's "incoherent plans to attack Iran."
Will this attack happen? I do not know. But the results of such an attack would be even more devastating to all parties than the results of the attack on Iraq have been.


G said...

Do you have a link to the transcript? I've been looking feverishly.

Beach Blogger said...

If you mean the Inskeep transcript, it won't be available for 24 hours -- and probably not then. So far I've not even found an audio link to the introductory by-play between Inskeep and the male reporter covering the Gates-Rice press conference, which is when Innskeep made the 'laughing' remark. In all likelihood, it was an unguarded remark that will disappear from NPR's archives.

On the other hand, if you mean the transcript of Bush's speech, try this: New York Times transcript

G said...

I was actually referring to the Condi / Gates Press Conference transcript. It has been noticeably absent from the web this morning.

Thanks for the 24 hour tip and great post here, by the way!

Beach Blogger said...

Re: Inskeep. We'll be posting a home made transcript of the quote. Here is the newly-posted audio transcript: Rice, Gates and Pace Promote U.S. Policy on Iraq.

Inskeep's actual words: "And elsewhere on this program today, Guy, we've heard NPR's Martin Kaste report on the response to this speech and you heard people, or rather military base [sic] guffawing, almost laughing at the president's speech last night. Little bit of cynicism there."