Have you seen this jolly little bit of news in this morning’s Sunday Times?
In the light of this, I see another possible explanation or two for the apparent confusion over the military objectives behind the planned ‘troop surge.’
Even if, as seems likely the ‘Israel to nuke Iran’ story is a deliberate ‘intelligence source’ leak via the Murdoch press intended as part of somebody or other’s media disinformation campaign, it’s still demonstrating just how deranged things are in that region, in no small part due to neo-conservative foreign policy adventures, which appear to still be ongoing and dedicated to the challenge of making things worse. The lack of any announcements of a coherent plan for the use of these troops makes me wonder if they’re actually being sent to deal with the expected backlash when the US and/or Israel attacks Iran. After all, the neo-cons handed Iran a massive strategic gain by making such a mess of Iraq that they had to let a bunch of pro-Iranian parties form a government. They can’t be at all happy about that, so I really wouldn’t assume they’ve finished causing disasters yet.
Another plausible provocation would be the attempt to privatise Iraq’s oil, another as-yet unrealised neo-con objective, that they’re apparently going to try to ram through in the next few weeks.
Perhaps this is why Bush intends to send extra troops but is being extremely vague about what they’re supposed to be doing? If he’s expecting massive unrest to kick off because of something he plans to do, e.g. this, or bombing Iran or something, then it would make sense to send more troops (plus the extra carrier battle group that just arrived) but he’d have a hard time explaining coherently exactly why he’s sending them, because it wouldn’t necessarily look to good to say ‘we’ll need the extra forces because we plan to annoy the Iraqis even more’
The neo-cons are going to be tied up pretty soon by subpoena-waving Democrats dragging all kinds of horrible mediapathic skeletons out of the White House’s closets in preparation for the 2008 elections, so if they want to privatise Iraq’s oil, start a war with Iran and so on in order to tick off the last few items on their ‘must do’ list of global foreign policy disasters, then this is probably their last chance at act. Once the US public has seen the traditional ‘Last helicopter taking off from the US Embassy roof’ scene played out in Baghdad’s Green Zone, which can’t be more than a couple of years away now, the chance of getting them onside with any new foreign policy adventures is likely to be over for another generation.
On those assumptions it’d make a lot of sense for them to try to get their last few acts of irresponsible craziness in fast and hence also to reinforce as far as possible before the shit really started to hit the fan. Once they’ve kicked it all off, it doesn’t really matter what the Democrats do, because they’ll be committed. As the Oxford Study Group point out, it’s a lot easier to start a war with Iran than to finish it.
Although US or Israeli attacks would severely damage Iranian nuclear and missile programmes, Iran would have many methods of responding in the months and years that followed. These would include disruption of Gulf oil production and exports, in spite of US attempts at pre-emption, systematic support for insurgents in Iraq, and encouragement to associates in Southern Lebanon to stage attacks on Israel. There would be considerable national unity in Iran in the face of military action by the United States or Israel, including a revitalised Revolutionary Guard.
Indeed for a variety of reasons, a war with Iran would possibly be saleable to the US public once they’d actually started it, despite them being totally fed up with the war in Iraq. For a start there is all that unpleasant holocaust denial stuff Ahmadinejad keeps coming out with. Then there’s the US Embassy hostages humiliation, which even liberal Americans seem to be quite angry about decades later and finally, something that’s almost an existential issue for the US. If the neo-cons did manage to start their war with Iran, most of the likely scenarios would put oil prices way up, which means intolerably high fuel costs.