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Monday, February 05, 2007

Bush is Trying to Sell War with Iran, But No One's Buying

We were lied into war with Iraq.

OK, that's not really the only possibility. Given that nothing we were told prior to invasion was true, another possibility is that everyone in the Bush administration at the time was an incompetent boob and believed what they said. Personally, I'd accept the possibility that there's a high percentage of boobs in the administration, but universal executive boobery seems pretty unlikely. Just playing the odds, I have to assume we were lied to.

There's a lot of reason to disbelieve the hype about Iran, then. Not the least of which is that the things the administration have been saying don't line up with the facts. For example, asked about Iran's influence on violence in Iraq, White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley played idiot.

White House Transcript, courtesy of Editor & Publisher:

Q Steve, in 2002 and 2003, in the run-up to the Iraq war, the administration made statements that were obviously not borne by facts subsequently. And it later came out that caveats from the intelligence community, caveats from Energy Department analysts, those were left out of public statements of Vice President Cheney, the President, others in the administration. Now when it comes to Iran, you've been saying for months that Iran is a key driver of violence in Iraq. You've said there is evidence tying Iran to attacks in Iraq. You've said that you'd make that evidence public. That supposed to be made public on the 31st.

MR. HADLEY: Right.

Q It wasn't.

MR. HADLEY: That's correct.

Q Now you have this report saying it contributes in some way, so does Syria, so do other factors, but it is not, in and of itself, causing the violence, nor would the violence stop if Iranian influence stopped.

MR. HADLEY: I didn't read it that way.

He didn't read it that way? He's talking about the National Intelligence Estimate, which says exactly that. Luckily, I just posted about it saturday, so I have the exact language handy:

Iraq's neighbors influence, and are influenced by, events within Iraq, but the involvement of these outside actors is not likely to be a major driver of violence or the prospects for stability because of the self-sustaining character of Iraq's internal sectarian dynamics...

Violence in Iraq is almost entirely sectarian iraqi. You'd have to have some learning disability to read it any other way.

There's evidence that the administration may be trying to build a case for war with Iran. And their reasons are as bad as the reasons for going into Iraq.

New York Times:

After decades of largely clandestine efforts, Iran is expected to declare in coming days that it has made a huge leap toward industrial-scale production of enriched uranium — a defiant act that the country's leaders will herald as a major technical stride and its neighbors will denounce as a looming threat.

But for now, many nuclear experts say, the frenetic activity at the desert enrichment plant in Natanz may be mostly about political showmanship.

The many setbacks and outright failures of Tehran's experimental program suggest that its bluster may far outstrip its technical expertise. And the problems help explain U.S. intelligence estimates that Iran is at least four years away from producing a bomb.

Other sources say that up to a decade may be more realistic. By either estimate, we're nowhere near the point where diplomacy has no time to be effective. Besides, the development of a weapon isn't a reason abandon diplomacy and invade -- North Korea has one and we're still in the process of talking.

There's also the fact that there's absolutely no real evidence that Iran is developing a weapon.

BBC News:

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has not found conclusive evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a US magazine has reported.

Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, writing in The New Yorker, cites a secret CIA report based on intelligence such as satellite images.

Correspondents say the alleged document appears to challenge Washington's views regarding Iranian nuclear intentions.

Yet, there is evidence that the Bush administration is preparing a case for war with Iraq.

BBC News:

With Iran defying the Security Council over its enrichment of uranium and the United States threatening further pressure, there are signs of organised grassroots opposition emerging to any military attack.

A pressure group in Britain has urged a diplomatic solution. There are stirrings among religious leaders and members of parliament.

And three senior retired US military officers have said that they "strongly caution against the use of military force". They have called on Britain to play a "vital role in securing a renewed diplomatic push".

The three retired military officers are Generals Robert G. Gard Jr and Joseph P. Hoar and Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan. According to the BBC, Hoar "is a former commander in chief of US Central Command, which covers the Middle East." It's hard to believe these men are worried when there's nothing to worry about.

So why war with Iran? The same reason there was war with Iraq -- elections. If you look back at the '04 elections, Bush barely won. It was the slimmest margin for a sitting president since 1916. If it weren't for the fact that war time presidents don't lose elections, it's extremely likely that Bush would not only have lost (although there's still some question as to whether he actually won), but that he would've gotten stomped.

The GOP needs to resurrect itself for the '08 elections. After years of speaking as one voice on the war, republicans have made themselves into the War Party. And, as the war becomes more and more unpopular, the GOP becomes the Unpopular War Party.

So they sit around, crying in their beers and reminiscing about the huge approval numbers they had in 2003 -- the eve of war. I don't wonder whether or not the GOP has gotten any less foolish in the years since March 2003 -- they haven't. There are republican war critics, but the party line is still in support of the war.

The media and the american people have gotten wise, though, and war with Iran is going to be a much harder sell.


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