Thursday, June 30, 2005

Matthew Yglesias: Radio

My strong belief is that what Bush has achieved in Iraq is to make it inevitable that a nuclear armed Iran run by the mullahs will become the regional superpower.

There are only three realistic options for the US in Iraq: admit defeat: bring in a draft to provide the troops needed to stay indefinitely in the hope the situation improves, withdraw and let the country slide into civil war or declare victory and withdraw.

I do not think that Bush has the necessary political capital to call for a draft. The biggest lie used to justify the war was that it would be painless and costless. Support for the occupation of Iraq is already dwindling. Even the 101st Fighting Keyboarders are unlikely to continue supporting the war if they are required to put their own lives at risk.

More importantly neither the Democrats in Congress or most the country at large has any confidence in the ability of Bush to win the war with or without a draft. I can't see them supporting a draft that would merely cost more American lives without any hope of success.

Calling for a draft would force Bush to admit a mistake. It would also make it almost certain that the GOP would loose the House in the midsessional. If the press starts covering Congressional investigations into the handling of the war, the corruption at Haliburton etc. the whole edifice wil fall.

If we ignore the unlikely event of the Iraqis suddenly remembering the neocon script and putting on the long delayed flower reception that leaves the various withdrawal options. The Iraqi government is nowhere near strong enough to maintain order on its own, its only option would be to call on foreign assistance. The only power in the region strong enough to do this is Iran.

The US will attempt to keep Iran out of Iraq of course but it is difficult to see how this can be achieved if this means prolonging a bloody civil war. The US acquiesed in the Syrian occupation of Lebanon as a means of ending the civil war there, they will in the end be forced to accept similar Iranian involvement in Iraq, particularly if as seems likely the Iraqi government invites them in.

Iran's military is much smaller and less well equiped than the US of course but they have many advantages. Their supply lines are much shorter: any material they need can simply be brought in by truck. Their troops speak the local language and have considerable support from the S'hia community. Most of all they are not infidels suspected of invading Iraq to loot the oil and protect Israel.

Iranian soldiers do not desecrate the Koran by flushing it down the toilet. At this point it is irrelevant whether this actually happened enough Iraqis believe it happened. The desecration of the Koran is in any case merely a metaphor for the considerably more serious allegations of torture.

The neo-cons appear to have realised that if the US withdraws Iran wins. I think this is what is behind their rhetorical attacks on Iran. Their idea seems to be that the way to get out of Iraq is to invade Iran first, take out the mullahs and install a democracy there. It is the doubling up strategy of the compulsive gambler.

Needless to say the idea of attacking Iran is even stupider than the original Iraqi invasion. Any attack on Iran, wheher by the US or Israel, whether a limited missile attack or a full invasion would quickly spin out of control. It is important to note here that Iran has the capability to strike at Israel and cause real damage. There is a significant risk of escalation to nuclear war.

Iran has had three years to prepare for a US invasion following Bush's 'axis of evil' speech which effectively pre-announced the intention to invade. I suspect that this may be one of the reasons why the hardliners decided to install one of their own as President rather than allowing an outlet for reformist pressure as they had under Khatami. Ensuring that both the top offices of state are held by hardliners reduces the risk of a decaptiation strike by the US.

The other important factor is that Sistani can force the US to quit Iraq at any time he choses. If the US or a proxy were to attack Iran he would have no choice. The US is having significant difficulty controlling the minority Sunni population. There is no way that the US can maintain control if the Sh'ia join the resistance.

In short, the New American Century hawks have achieved the precise opposite of their aims. They have enabled Iran to become the regional superpower and broken the US military in the process. The whole point of the New American Century project was to tell the rest of the world that the US that they have to accept perpetual US hegemony, that any country that fails to follow the US line will be bullied into submission.

It is now clear that the US is not going to use its military capability for a decade at least.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?