Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice now admits that Bush authorized the attack on the Iranian diplomatic facility in Iraq as part of a long-running campaign against Iranian agents who are aiding the Shiite insurgency in Iraq.
Iran is probably aiding Shiite militias in Iraq. That's one reason why we need to negotiate with Iran to partition Iraq and get the hell out. The plurality of Iraq's population is Shiite and sympathetic to Iran. Even if Iraq became a democracy, it would vote to be a Shia state with close ties to Iran. In the 2005 elections, over 80% of Shiite voters cast their ballots for pro-Iranian Shiite parties.
The excruciating irony is that the Bush administration created the problem in the first place. If the U.S. hadn't overthrown Saddam Hussein, Iraq and Iran would have remained bitter enemies. This entire war was one big gimme for Islamic theocracy.
In The End Of Iraq, Peter Galbraith notes that George W. Bush's bungling foreign policy literally created the Tehran/Baghdad Axis.
When George W. Bush shot off his mouth about the "Axis of Evil" (a phrase that went straight to the keyboard of David Frum to the lips of the president without any fact-checking by the State Department), the so-called "axis" did not exist. Iraq and Iran were bitter enemies at the time. Saddam Hussein and his Sunni minority ruled Iraq. Iran was Shiite Islamic Republic. Hussein started the Iran/Iraq war that killed at least half a million Iranians and left thousands in Iraqi POW camps decades later.
However, once the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Shiite majority suddenly had a lot of power, by dint of sheer numbers. Of course, Iran founded and nurtured Iraq's major Shiite parties for years before the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein.
The United States had a surprisingly good relationship with Iran before the disastrous Axis of Evil speech. Galbraith explains, "Before the Axis of Evil speech Iran was cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan, sharing intelligence about al Qaeda, preventing fugitive al Qaeda members from escaping through Iran, and giving the U.S. military permission to conduct search-and-rescue missions in Iranian territory for any American pilot shot down in the Afghanistan war."
At first, the U.S. and Iran had a lot of common interests with regard to Iraq. Both sides wanted to contain Hussein's aggressions. Several years earlier, Iran had been attacked by Hussein and subjected to his poison gas attacks. Of course, Iran has good reason to fear al Qaeda, a Sunni group sworn to erase Iran's Islamic revolution and recreate a Sunni caliphate. All that changed after Bush signaled to the Iranians that they might be the next target.
Bush's loose talk spurred the Iranians to pursue their nuclear program. Once the U.S. became tied down in Iraq, Iran was able to step up its program without fear of reprisals.
If Iran is determined to help Iraq's Shiites, now is the time to cut a deal and get out. It would be absolutely ridiculous, not to mention barbarous, to start a war with Iran over the ruins of Iraq. The longer we drag this out, the further the Iranians may progress in the nuclear program. Remember, military experts are saying that the war could drag on for years. We don't want to end up in a nuclear face-off with Iran over a country we've already lost.
Remember, if we really wanted democracy in Iraq, we should have expected a Shia-dominated theocratic government closely allied with Iran, because that's what people are going to vote for in the foreseeable future. So, you have to ask, what's the point of fighting Iran to forestall the inevitable?
The only moral imperative keeping the U.S. in Iraq is to stop the impeding genocide of the Sunnis at the hands if the Shias. The conflict has already shifted from a war against American occupation to a civil war between Sunni and Shia.
The only way out is to acknowledge Kurdish independence, create some kind of Sunni state that can be defended from the predations of its neighbors, and let the Shia of Iraq form their own republic. The longer we wait, the worse our chances of brokering a good deal.