Here's another hole in the neocon narrative for war with Iran - and yet more evidence that the professional military will not stand idly by while Cheney's cronies drag them into another disasterous war.
U.S. Army Gen. Dan McNeill is in command of NATO forces in Afghanistan. In an interview with the AP today, he refused to say that there is evidence Iran's leadership is behind Iranian weapons found there. On the contrary, he pointed to the hard evidence of Iran's aid to the Afghan government. By doing so he is not only contradicting both Tony Blair and the Bush administration's official line, he is also supporting British Intelligence's assessment that iranian arms smuggling into both iraq and Afghanistan is explainable by black-market private enterprise.
There is ``ample evidence'' Iran is helping Karzai's administration, particularly with road construction and electricity in western Afghanistan, he told the AP.I recognise that it is quite possible that Iran is "playing the field" with it support - but it is important to realise that this is speculation rather than hard evidence and if there's one thing we are sure of about the Cheney warmongers, it is that they have a credibility gap when it comes to accepting speculations as a causus belli.
But he added that he wouldn't doubt Iran may also help the Taliban and other political opponents of Karzai.
``So what does that add up to? It makes me think of a major American corporation that will give political campaign money to three or four different candidates for president of the United States,'' he said. ``Somebody is going to come out on top. This corporation wants to be aligned with whoever comes out on top.''
McNeill, a 60-year-old, four-star general from North Carolina who has fought in most American conflicts since Vietnam, said he had no hard evidence the Iranian government has helped the Taliban. He said munitions, particularly mortar rounds found on Afghan battlefields, ``clearly were made in Iran,'' but said that does not prove the Iranian government is formally involved.
``If I had the information, I would have no reservation about saying it,'' he said.
McNeill also noted that the Taliban are showing increased sophistication in their attacks and speculated that this was because they were receiving information on successful tactics from Iraq.
McNeill said NATO forces under his command pursued a successful offensive this spring against insurgents, but he acknowledged Taliban militants are showing signs of improved training.Maybe they just got smarter and started downloading PDFs on Western small unit special operations tactics from the internet. Maybe the Pakistani military started passing on the training aid it received from the US military under Bush's "support-a-dictator" programs.
For instance, they have advanced on U.S. Special Forces in recent months after staging ambushes in tight terrain between high ground and a river, a complex military maneuver that McNeill termed ``surprising.''
``We have now seen them shoot and maneuver a couple times in ways we haven't seen before. Where that's coming from I'm not exactly certain,'' he said. ``But they have used some versions of fire and maneuver that makes one think of an advanced Western military.''
There also has been speculation Taliban fighters are adopting tactics used by insurgents in Iraq, and McNeill said he wouldn't rule out that they are coordinating their efforts. But he stressed he didn't have any information to state conclusively that is happening.
Meanwhile, Bill Kristol told Face The Nation yesterday that Joe Lieberman's latest bit of insanity helped give the Bush administration political cover for a push to attack Iran. Political cover, maybe - but it's clear kristol and the other Worm-tongues haven't yet convinced the US military to go along with their plans.
Nor have the managed to convince key regional allies. Kuwait today stated that it would not agree to any US proposal that it be used to base forces for an attack on Iran. "The United States has not made a request and we will not agree to (such a request)," Defence and Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Hamad al-Sabah told reporters.