, bless his heart, has called for Congress to put a halt to the war by cutting off funding. This is good news.
Bush's escalation speech has proven about as popular as a pizza with cat turd topping. Even Republicans have dissed it. This is good news.
So why am I so worried?
I'm worried because events conspire to force the administration to stage a provocation. Politically, nothing short of such an event will allow Dubya to continue to prosecute this war and the wider war he seeks. Just as flashing lights at a railroad crossing signal a coming train, many stories in today's papers herald the disaster to come.(To read the rest, click "Permalink" below)In his now-notorious speech, Bush charged Iran and Syria with aiding the Iraqi insurgents -- even though Iran is Shi'ite and the insurgents are largely Sunni. From the Washington Post of last October, we learned that a British team on the Iran/Iraq border has been trying to verify Bush's charges -- without success. We've cited this piece in a previous post, but it bears another look:
Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.And:
"It's a question of intelligence versus evidence," Labouchere's commander, Brig. James Everard of Britain's 20th Armored Brigade, said last month at his base in the southern region's capital, Basra. "One hears word of mouth, but one has to see it with one's own eyes. These are serious consequences, aren't they?"Just where, I wonder, is this "intelligence" coming from? Chalabi's shop?
Incidentally, this story gives us one reason not to welcome a British withdrawal. Without the U.K., who will double-check Bush's claims?
President Bush appears to be setting the stage for a wider war in the region. He has blamed Iran for attacks on America. The President is vowing to disrupt Iran. He is going to add an aircraft carrier to the shores off the coast of Iran. He has promised to give Patriot missiles to 'our friends and allies.' Isn't one war enough for this President?As you know, American forces raided an Iranian consulate in Ibril (northern Iraq), thereby enraging the Kurds, the de facto rulers of the region and our only allies in this mess. The Peshmerga (the Kurdish army) may have been receiving aid from the Iranians.
One Iranian news agency with a correspondent in Irbil says five US helicopters were used to land troops on the roof of the Iranian consulate.What intelligence "haul" could possibly justify an attack on a consulate? A consulate in a region previously friendly to us?
It reports that a number of vehicles cordoned off the streets around the building, while US soldiers warned the occupants in three different languages that they should surrender or be killed.
There was another incident that same day -- an attempted kidnapping which few have noted:
Later Thursday, U.S. forces staged a second raid, attempting to enter Irbil airport and abduct a group of unidentified individuals, he said.Bottom line: Someone is trying to start a fight.
Members of a Kurdish paramilitary force known as peshmerga confronted the Americans when they refused to identify themselves, and a gun battle was narrowly averted "at the 11th hour," said Zebari.
Bush hopes that his outrageous actions will force the Iranians to retaliate. Even if Iran's leadership keeps cool, any new terrorist incident can now be portrayed as Iranian retaliation, regardless of the act's true authors.
Steve Clemons and Larisa Alexandrovna both say that, according to their sources, Bush has directed the CIA and the Pentagon to prosecute a "secret war" with Iran and Syria. Bush's speech indicates that he hopes to transform a secret thing into an open thing.
To do that he needs a provocation. A bit of theater. Something nasty.
Many stories vying for your attention this morning speak to extreme danger of this moment. I have cited but a few indicators.