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January 11, 2007

The Iranian consulate, the MEK, and the threat of a wider war

Josh Marshall says he's getting hints that the U.S. raid on the Iranian consulate may be part of something much bigger:

Is there a classified presidential directive to the CIA and DOD to take down Syrian and Iranian operations inside Iraq, even so far as operations into Iranian and Syrian territory? And is the aim here to provoke a conflict with one or the other of these states? To provoke an attack from Iran perhaps? The plan from the neocons was always to build the chaos outwards. Never too late, I guess. Watch this. Something's up.

Steve Clemons of The Note says there's a widely-circulated rumor in the foreign policy and intelligence communities that the president sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran. In last night's escalation speech, Bush hinted that he was planning to crack down on Iran and Syria, whom he blamed for meddling inside Iraq. So, even if the president did authorize military force against Iraq's neighbors, it's possible that the action will be confined to Iraq. However, Clemons and other observers are concerned that the United States is preparing to attack Iran and Syria within their borders.

Yesterday's raid on an Iranian consulate inside Iraq was not an encouraging sign. The United States appears to be deliberately and precipitously escalating tensions with Iran.

Of course, the U.S. has been laying the groundwork for a war inside Iran for quite a while. Back in April, 2006, I blogged about how the United States was hiring MEK terrorists to operate in Iran. U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner had just told CNN that operations were already underway in Iran.

It sure sounds like Bush is doing everything he can to provoke a regional war without the approval of Congress.

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*sigh* According to Counterpunch the MEK has degenerated abroad, but originally they were one of the forces pushing for the Iranian Revolution to be more democratic and less specifically Islamist. Their main ideological proponent, Dr. Ali Shariati, was posthumously credited with being one of the fathers of the Islamic Republic. Shariati's thought is really interesting, and is available for free online. It is a mixture of Marxism and Islam, but in the sense of making a socialism based on indigenous traditions rather than based on something imported.

Hi,
Yes, yes I've been worrying about this since I heard the supposedly phony leaked story about Israel preparing a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Then put that together with this crazy buildup idea. Wouldn't it be just like these lunatics to pull something like this? Maybe Israel goes in and does it, then we have no choice but to get involved. Why else would they make the completely insane move at this time to build up the forces? If they see themselves being forced to pull out at any moment, this may be their last chance to strike. I agree they probably never had intentions to create stability. They're actually very successful at doing exactly what they wanted: Chaos. They've got two years left before they're totally thrown out of office too. Just enough time to completely ruin everything. And I don't mean some euphemistic “everything.” I mean EVERYTHING. The new Congress, bless their hearts, can't move fast enough to take the wand out of his hand. Then when it's done he can smirk: "Ooooh, I've really made another big mistake here. I take full responsibility."

What--the FUCK?

Jesus. You know, it must have been a year and a half ago that Phantom said "My, aren't we over the top" when I said that we might at some point attack Iran or Syria. Now that--and I can't bring myself to say "now," but if it is happening now, then now that--it's happening, I can't believe it.

How much stupider it is now, I mean.

The MEK and other covert activities have been some of my favorite subjects on my www.progressivevalues.blogspot blog as well.

On the surface it appeared that Bush was biting way off more than he could handle to be losing control of Iraq, yet talking tough on Iran and Syria. In reality it's probably partly bluster to appeal to his conservative base at home. Dividing Sunni Syria from Shiite Iran would be far wiser than creating an axis of these two states united against the U.S. Even Nixon was wise enough to play the China card. Bush needs to divid one of these states from the other somehow, not unite them.

Any serious escalation of military activity with Iran would likely be counterproductive. The government of Iran is simply becoming too radical for many younger Iranians, and even te ruling clerics are beginining to raise doubts about Mohmoud Ahmadinejad, whose party suffered a serious drubbing in recent local elections. Ahmadinejad has raised international tensions significantly while failing to fix the Iranian economy. This is a politically bad mix for him, certain to doom his political future unless the U.S. or Israel get jumpy and spoil things with overt warfare.

Bush has no good instincts whatsoever on foreign policy matters. But with any wisdom at all, careful efforts to undermine Ahmadinejad but not to rally support out of fear of imminent U.S. action in Iran could prove helpful. But that's a very careful path, and Bush lacks the skills to really achieve this careful walk on eggs foreign policy path.

The best hope of regime change in Iran is to count on the future elections there. However if the nuclear program of Iran looks to be too dangerous, then the U.S. or Israel could jump the gun, and invite a serious path of uncertainty in the MidEast.

(At some point in the future a huge war with Iran does take place according to one interesting source. The Old Testament Jewish prophet Ezekiel wrote what would become the entire history of the state of Israel, predicting the destruction of the states of Judea and Sumaria. No Israeli home until the 1948 resettlement, and a huge future war with Iran and it's ally states in the MidEast and Russia. Unlike any other book that exists in the world, this book was to be the entire history of one nation, past, present and future. And has been 100% accurate so far to add a few more chills up your spine.

The descriptions of the warfare used certainly describe the effects of nuclear weapons, something that didn't exist more than 2000 years ago as well.Only a nuclear weapon could burn a person alive, "consuming their tongue in their mouth" before they hit the ground. This was written when the only weapons that existed were arrows or swords.)

Not to mention, though I have mentioned it repeatedly here, that Iran's defensive capacity is not known. They have perhaps 500,000 men at arms, and their rocket scientists have been studying in Russia. Again, I'm repeating myself, but the Iranians' latest new surface-skimming anti-ship missile tied the world's record for speed a year and a half ago. Tied with whose? Why, with Russia's, coincidentally. Many Shahs, particularly those of about a century ago, found it impossible to pacify Iran's tribal areas, and only ruled by those tribes' sufferance. Bush probably thinks, if he is indeed hoping for war with Iran, to lance the boil. However, expanding the theatre to include all of Iran and Iraq is a spectacularly bad idea. If he can't pacify Iraq (and he can't, no matter how we pretend), invading Iran would only multiply our problems. Stupid idea. I'm waiting, not only for Bush to enact this stupid idea, but for his followers to find some way to blame the Left for it, though we counseled against it from the start.

I know it's patently obvious, but I have to comment on the overwhelming irony of Bush accusing Iran of "meddling" in Iraq... I mean, who's got an army camped out there? Not Iran, that's for sure.

I think it's worth noting that there is good reason to believe that Iran is supporting various Iraqi militant factions, including providing weapons. I would not be in the least bit surprised if the consulate really was involved in providing aid to the insurgents, in which case it's a legitimate target (and the responsibility for violation of diplomatic immunity lies with Iran).

It's still likely a bad idea to attack a consulate, and I don't doubt that part of the calculations behind the decision to attack involved sending a message to Iran. Still, we should bear in mind that administration complaints about Iranian support for insurgents are grounded in reality (though I suspect they are exaggerated).

anyone remember sy hersch's piece in the New Yorker last spring? it's clear this administration (at least Cheney) has lusted to go to war with Iran for some time now...hell we've got war already on two fronts, to these morons we might as well open up another on a third one.
www.minor-ripper.blogspot.com

toglosh writes;
I would not be in the least bit surprised if the consulate really was involved in providing aid to the insurgents, in which case it's a legitimate target (and the responsibility for violation of diplomatic immunity lies with Iran).

Doyle;
The U.S. embassies around the world are used by the CIA to doing clandestine operations in those countries. By your analogy someone ought in those sovereign nations invade our embassy.

The principal of diplomatic immunity allows communications to exist between nations. No doubt transgressions like this happen between hostile powers, but you seem to take lightly that in most circumstances this is an outright act of war between countries.

There is no military reason or civil reason that justifies our attacking Iran's consulate except as an act of war. Undeclared yes, but precisely meant to escalate the 'declared' expansion or escalation of the Iraq war to a regional war.

Apparently at this point Iran is ducking the blow by going for diplomatic solutions. In most cases, the way nations deal with these problems is to ask the consulate national authority to remove the entity from their national soil.

Name a single instance since WWII when any country besides Iraq invaded anothers Embassy. Well you could say this is tit for tat. Still the U.S. is acting as if it had no treaties about diplomatic immunity at all.

No other country looking at this could trust their relationship to the U.S. That's perhaps not new, but points toward a much higher level of folly than previously reckoned with Bush.

They are driving the chaos into a regional conflict. For what good purpose? Your point is there is some justification flies in the face of common sense, common treaty, and our own welfare as a country.
Doyle

FYI, Kevin Drum reports that it wasn't a consulate office after all, and therefore not an invasion of Iran's sovereign territory...

There is no military reason or civil reason that justifies our attacking Iran's consulate except as an act of war.

I agree that such an attack (assuming it was a consulate) would be an act of war. Of course, it's also an act of war to provide assistance to people knowing they will use that assistance to attack the US. This obviously implies that the US has commited numerous acts of war that it refuses to acknowledge as such, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

My point is merely that it is wrong to read this as an unprovoked attack. It may be that the particular Iranians captured were not engaged in support of the insurgents, but that's the sort of thing that happens in the confusion of war. Iranian support for the insurgents is no doubt due to decades long interference in Iranian affairs by the US, and the Iranian response is pretty much what I'd do in their shoes (assuming my interests were the same as theirs, which they aren't). This latest event is just another in the long, slow escalation of provocations by both sides.

>Still, we should bear in mind that administration complaints about Iranian support for insurgents are grounded in reality

Oh, for darn sure they are. The only problem is that, considering that we can't manage the Iraq occupation alone, adding an Iran occupation or war to that would be a complete clusterf-- er, cluster-arbitrage*. Also, it's always been inevitable that we'd leave Iraq eventually, and leave it in a non-self-governing shambles. Therefore, our choice was between an Iran we hadn't gone to war with, still prone to diplomatic pressure from us, with perhaps Iraq becoming a satellite state of theirs, and an Iran we _had_ gone to war with, which would be left bloodied, but once we'd gone (leaving them in a shambles too) would be able to sweep into Iraq, rationalizing it to the world as a counterattack against a US which is seen by much of the world to have been an unlawful aggressor against Iraq in the first place (and probably would be seen that way against Iran, if we handled them as clumsily). We're basically inviting them to gain territory, giving them an excuse to do so. Our 150,000 troops (with the 20,000 "surge") can't prevail against Iran's 500,000 troops, which are rested, trained, and haven't fought a soul since the Iran/Iraq war, while America has exhausted its own troops physically and mentally. Their defensive position will overwhelm our resources. Will our opening of an Iranian front not work both ways, and possibly allow Iran to take control of Iraq if they want? Who will stop them, if we're not able to (and we may not be able to)? They'll make Iraq either a satellite or, if we invade Iran, probably they'll take Iraq entirely, and there they'll be, at the very doorstep of Israel and Saudi Arabia. What will we do then? Station all 150,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, to protect them? _That'_ll be popular.

Essentially, togolosh, you're right, it _isn't_ unprovoked. Iran saw us enter Iraq, got _very_ nervous about the idea that we'd succeed there and turn to them next as the Axis of Evil, and naturally enough, sabotaged us. I'm not happy about it, but unfortunately, we really should have made diplomatic overtures to Iran _before_ the Iraq war, hopefully getting them to knock off the Hezbollah and anti-Israel stuff, and the rhetoric too, and acknowledged their growing power in the region. Violent rhetoric is still just rhetoric, and can be shut off. Diplomacy, though, must precede military violence, it can never come afterwards. If you're talking with a guy who annoys you a bit, you can threaten him with violence; but if you give him a punch in the face first, you can't then say "come now! and let's reason together. Past is past." And unfortunately, all we've heard regarding any muslim nation for the last several years is, "all These People understand is violence and force." Any mention of diplomacy, or anything other than smashing things, is met with "let's all sing Kumbaya. Get real. Muslims are violent, senseless violence is all they understand" by Americans seemingly unaware that they are themselves rationalizing senseless violence in that very sentence. "We've gotta hit Them." Regardless of the fact that neither Iraq nor Iran nor North Korea were in any way connected with 9/11. We rationalize bigoted, indiscriminate violence against all muslims--any of the 1,000,000,000 of them that we please--by claiming that it's a defensive measure against their bigoted, indiscriminate violence.

God what a screwup this has been. Many of us knew the difference between the Al Qaeda and their supporters, who were guilty of 9/11, and the Iraqis (yes, even Saddam Hussein) and most of the rest of the Muslim world, who were completely innocent of 9/11. But not enough of us. It's all been so bloodthirsty.

Yes, Iran has cynically and violently played our mistakes against us. But we're just not strong enough to occupy them. This should be obvious to everyone. It certainly is to them.

(*Secret tapes of the Enron executives have them saying, "this is where California goes into recession--every month we f--- them out of a million dollars." Another replies: "the language?" First one responds: "well, we arbitrage them out of a million dollars a month." Since then, Arbitrage has been my favorite sub for the f word.

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