“They think they are still in charge”

Marconvoy "For many months, the administration of US George W Bush has been complaining that Iranian meddling in Iraq is a threat to the country’s stability and to US troops. The irony of this publicity campaign over Tehran’s alleged bid to undermine the occupation is that Iran may well be the main factor holding up a showdown between militant Shi’ites and US forces."  Gareth Porter


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18 Responses to “They think they are still in charge”

  1. ali says:

    While US troops labor on in Iraq and DC avoids admitting abject failure Tehran is relatively safe. The Iranians hold all the cards, their cooperation is essential, they have assets all over the Iraqi government and military, they can make the Shi’a South ungovernable, sow chaos every where else and DC knows it.
    If DC swiftly abandons the Iraqi project Tehran will likely suffer. To cover the retreat the USAF may be unleashed on their nascent nuclear program in what is really an effort to save face and destroy Iranian defenses in preparation for the next war. Once the US ground army is disentangled from Iraq it will within a few years become a real threat to Tehran. That might be the best outcome a neocon DC can expect.
    An unstable but still viable Iraq that provides DC with a strategic impediment for a decade is the best outcome for Tehran. By that time the Mullahs would be a formidable nuclear power that dominates the Persian Gulf.
    I doubt the Iraqis will oblige for much longer though; Iraq is sliding towards bloody fragmentation. This is something that no external power can prevent. It may engulf the powers that surround Iraq and inevitably, given the geo-political stakes, the US military in a far bigger nastier war.
    The neocons have brought us close to 1913 with their 1939 dreaming.

  2. arbogast says:

    Yeesh. Well, at least it is clear that the Iranian strategy is to keep the US in Iraq as long as possible. And what an extraordinarily superb strategy it is.
    How extraordinarily ironic that the lunatic fringe of Zionism is acting diametrically against the interests of Israel.
    Intelligence was never George’s strong suit. He sure as hell has “misunderestimated” the Iranians.

  3. arbogast says:

    Actually, what the current administration needs is a casus belli. After anything resembling Dien Bien Phu, they get what they really, really want: conscription.
    So maybe it works in both directions: the Iranians try to tempt us into bombing them, preferably with tactical nuclear weapons, and we attempt to get them to cut our supply lines to Bhagdad.
    Two governments deeply concerned about the welfare of their people.

  4. Got A Watch says:

    All factors in Iraq seem to show events are unfolding exactly as Iranian Intelligience would want them to. Which is doubly ironic when you contrast the total US budget for intelligience vs. what Iran probably spends in a year (1/100th I bet). But defeat is what happens when you refuse to let reality intrude on your pre-conceived beliefs.
    What would the world situation be today if America had not invaded Iraq at all?

  5. Nabil says:

    I will never understand how the US can spend billions on intelligence gathering and on strategy, and still fail to come to the correct conclusions. The only rational explanation left is sheer malice and a desire for a wider rift between east and west.
    Civil war in Iraq was the unstated goal of invading Iraq: That is the conclusion people in the middle east have already come to.

  6. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I caution you against attributing so much knowledge and power to the Iranians. I find it hard to credit since I cannot believe that there are that many smart and competent people in the world.
    I have not read anything that has indicated a desire on part of Iran to keep Iraq boiling. Iranians have been consistent in expressing their wish for a unitary, Islamic, and democratic Iraq. There is no reason to doubt the veracity of those sentiments, in my opinion.
    Moreover, Iran does not operate in a reginal vacuum; it already is working with Turkey on containing the effects of the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. It has also tried to re-assure Saudi Arabia regarding her intentions in Iraq.
    Nor is Iran controlling the various Shia factions in Iraq; that level of control is impossible to achieve or maintain in practice given the current situation in Iraq where there is scramble for money and power among all actors.
    Iran can live with the consequences of almost all scenarios for the future of Iraq except one: an anti-Iran state. That will never be tolerated by Iran. However, that possibility has got a very low probability of transpiring, in my opinion.
    Lastly, I think that Iran wants the US project to succeed in Iraq as long as it is not anti-Iran.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I, too, think that a “grand bargain” with Iran would be possible if the US wanted that. It does not.
    This is the classic mistake that the people in the Middle East make about the US. They (you) want to believe that the US is all powerful and knowing. they therefore convince themselves that when we fail in conception or execution we wanted to fail. Wrong! pl

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    I am not sure what the parameters of a grand bargain, so to speak, could be.
    How about detente instead?

  9. fasteddiez says:

    Mr. Nabil,
    You Said…”I will never understand how the US can spend billions on intelligence gathering and on strategy, and still fail to come to the correct conclusions.”
    The conclusions that were made, and acted upon were gathered by Douglas Fieth’s Office of Special Plans in the DoD, not by the Intelligence Community writ Large.
    These conclusions, based on fantasies and agenda driven disinformation, were then sold (via Speechifying and TV) to the “Rube” Populace, and to the “Retro-Surrender Monkey” Democratic Party. Anyone obstinate enough to question these sad underlying assumptions was crushed (professionally), or marginalized.
    We could be in for a repeat performance vis-a-vis Iran. The Democrats would be cornered and would in large part surrender to patriotism. Also, the Armed forces top generals (clones for Jodl, Krebs, Keitel and all the rest of the “lakeitels”) would respond in kind.
    I hope for the country I’m wrong, or it could be the beginning of “Der Untergang.”

  10. Nabil says:

    I know that this misconception of what the US is capable of exists. However, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”. Just because Middle Easterners exaggerate America’s competence does not mean all negative outcomes are the result of incompetence.
    I don’t believe the US went into this wanting a civil war (although, as I said, this is now a common idea). However, the administration knew it was the likely outcome and was very flippant about it. Only in a warped worldview, where Iraqi blood is cheaper than dirt, was this a risk worth taking. In that sense, this is all a malicious adventure.

  11. zanzibar says:

    “I, too, think that a “grand bargain” with Iran would be possible if the US wanted that. It does not.” – PL
    Why does the US not want a deal with Iran? Is it just this Administration or current wisdom across both parties?

  12. fasteddiez says:

    Mr Nabil, Colonel Lang,
    On the assumption that the National Command Authority could foresee an Iraqi sectarian civil war after US takeover; The neocons were much too in love with their rosy scenarios to brook any such negative vibes. This globalist country does “business” based on Positive hype.
    George Friedman (with whom I don’t always agree with) runs the Intel based consultancy Stratfor.org believes that after 9/11, America needed to strike back rapidly at the Muslim (read Arab) world. Afghanistan was done for tactical and strategic reasons. Iraq for strategic and to make a demonstration.
    Basically, he posits, hit an Arab state in the head with a two by four. Even if one discounts the president’s possible Oedipal reasons for targeting Saddam, Iraq is an attractive target. It is dead center in the Arab world, and positioned to strike west into Syria and east into Iran, should they get ornery.
    The amount of oil reserves under its sands is second only to SA. After removing Saddam from command, and flowers and bonbons from one’s hair, One could bring in the expertise of the US “Oal Bidness” to repair the Iraqi Oil Sector’s neglected infrastructure, as well as introduce more modern drilling techniques to enable production to soar.
    The acid-dammaged sons and daughters of the sixties exclaim that we wish to steal their oil, not quite. The intent is to make Iraq a second, major swing producer, which can keep prices down in this age of increased demand.
    Should Iran ever become too uppity, Well it’s just a hop, a skip and a Panzer Pincer to the nearby Khuzestan oil fields where the ethnic Arab natives will beckon us with their own distinctive flora and sweets.
    I don’t have the requisite international Oal Bidness trading savvy to know if that part of Friedman’s guesswork makes sense, but the rest is plausible from having been hatched by neocons.
    Colonel Lang, Nabil and the rest of the erudite posters, I welcome any input on this topic.

  13. Green Zone Cafe says:

    As would be expected, there is a competition on right now in Iraq for oil development agreements. These will be of the production-sharing variety, where the non-Iraqi investor gets a share of the production in return for the equipment and expertise provided to exploit those fields. There are several oil companies lobbying the Iraqi (and Kurdish regional) government right now for these agreements. The potential is huge, and it would obviously be a relief on the oil market if these fields were exploited to a fuller potential.
    With Iran’s clerics, you can’t underestimate their motivation to secure the Shi’a holy sites in Najaf and Karbala. So much of the fighting which took place in Najaf was really over control of the Shrine of Imam Ali – both for religious and revenue reasons. Iran’s rulers are clerics of Shi’a Islam, they really want to control those shrines.
    I think that Al-Hakim is Iran’s agent in Iraq, and that Sadr is a crazy wild card who will be used by Iran if necessary during US attacks, but will not be part of the long game. There are too many people who want him dead, including SCIRI and Dawa parties, who know he is interfering with their own power and perquisites.

  14. Nabil says:

    I think the reasons have been debated a lot, but maybe it can all be reduced to ‘There wasn’t enough ass to kick in Afghanistan’. This will be one of those wars that gets mythologized and studied endlessly by history buffs.

  15. Walrus says:

    I respectfully suggest that you are making a very major assumption about the Bush Administration. You assume it is populated with rational actors who will behave rationally.
    I suggest that events to date demonstrate that it is not a rational institution, therefore any assumptions that it will somehow behave rationally where Iran is concerned are completely misplaced.
    Bush will attack Iran because he wants to. Any suggestions, based on logic and analysis of the available facts, that this is not a wise course of action will not only be rejected, but will result in punishment.
    We have seen all this in the lead up, and the continuing conduct, of the Iraq war. “Creative Chaos” – my ass! I feel we are watching the runup to a war that will destroy America, economically. politically, socially and militarily. It’s August 1914 all over again, except now its our turn to be the bad guy and get defeated.

  16. arbogast says:

    Army won’t submit a budget:
    The only thing, emphasis only thing, that saves Don and Dick and George now is a casus belli that is big enough and ugly enough to get a large percentage of the American Public to support conscription.
    What does the assembled congregation think such an event would be?
    Definitely not, in my opinion, another terrorist attack, unless it wiped out a city.

  17. Got A Watch says:

    “I caution you against attributing so much knowledge and power to the Iranians.”
    I only call what I see as a distant observer thru the internet. Certainly Iran is a poorly run country in many ways , like the economy, human rights, efficient government, religious tolerance and many more.
    What they do well it seems is Foreign Intelligience. If you can manipulate a hostile power to destroy your greatest enemy, then you win. If you can then pick up the pieces and gain power and influence, you have won again. Of course having an opponent who is monumentally incompetent in their own strategy certainly helps. I ask agian, what would be the situation today if the USA/UK had not invaded Iraq at all? Probably better off all around, except for neocon pride.

  18. Barry says:

    Posted by: fasteddiez: “The acid-dammaged sons and daughters of the sixties exclaim that we wish to steal their oil, not quite. The intent is to make Iraq a second, major swing producer, which can keep prices down in this age of increased demand.”
    Which, to my ears, sounds like ‘the US-installed government will sell Iraqi oil at below-OPEC prices’.

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