Friday, August 10, 2007

Cheney Still On Iran Warpath

By Cernig

McLatchy reports that Dick Cheney still wants to see the Bush administration go down in a blaze of glory - and has Dubya making unspecified threats against Iran to further that cause.
President Bush charged Thursday that Iran continues to arm and train insurgents who are killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and he threatened action if that continues.

At a news conference Thursday, Bush said Iran had been warned of unspecified consequences if it continued its alleged support for anti-American forces in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had conveyed the warning in meetings with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad, the president said.

Bush wasn't specific, and a State Department official refused to elaborate on the warning.

Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iraq run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy.

The debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both.

Nor is it clear from the evidence the administration has presented whether Iran, which has long-standing ties to several Iraqi Shiite groups, including the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Badr Organization, which is allied with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, is a major cause of the anti-American and sectarian violence in Iraq or merely one of many. At other times, administration officials have blamed the Sunni Muslim group al Qaida in Iraq for much of the violence.

For now, however, the president appears to have settled on a policy of stepped-up military operations in Iraq aimed at the suspected Iranian networks there, combined with direct American-Iranian talks in Baghdad to try to persuade Tehran to halt its alleged meddling.

...The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about internal government deliberations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opposes this idea, the officials said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated publicly that "we think we can handle this inside the borders of Iraq."

Lea Anne McBride, a Cheney spokeswoman, said only that "the vice president is right where the president is" on Iran policy.
Does anyone believe these two anonymous officials were leaking without the knowldege and approval of their bosses, Rice and Gates?

Over at The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur has all the relevant remarks as he writes:
Man, does Cheney know how to push Bush's buttons?! He knows that the idiot fancies himself a tough guy, so any argument that starts with, "are you going to let them get away with that?" is a total winner. Never fails. Interesting that Cheney has never asked Bush why he let Osama bin Laden get away with 9/11.

The changing rationale for the Iran War proves that Cheney doesn't give a damn about any of the stated reasons, just like he never gave a damn about so-called weapons of mass destruction or democracy in Iraq. He just wants war, by any means necessary.

We have a vice president who is seriously unbalanced. We have a president who is seriously unintelligent. And we have an opposition party who is seriously unprepared for the challenge. It's a recipe for disaster.

...Will anyone stand up and tell the president, "You're vice president is absolutely nuts. Stop listening to him!!!" Of course, not. The problem is you can't fit Bush's giant ego into his pea-sized brain. And to tell him he's been an idiot for listening to Cheney all along would bruise his ego and make him go the other way.

So, that leaves us with Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The last great hope for peace. Isn't that funny? Someone who in previous administrations might have been considered a hawk and a paragon of conservatism is the dove in this administration. Gates stands out as the only hope for a sane policy because he is the only person in the administration who is both sane and competent. But can he do it alone? My guess is no.

If only there were a Democratic Party that could help him apply pressure form the outside. Pause for laughter again.
I would laugh too if it wasn't so sad.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein picks up on another Bushism from yesterday's speesch - "the United States of America will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Security Council and elsewhere to put you in a position to deny you your rightful place in the world." Yeah, that'll help convince the Iranian people that Bush wants regime change there just because he's concerned for ordinary Iranians. And well known ultra-right blogger Tigerhawk gets into Ezra's comments with this gem:
progressives and other doves are worried that the administration is trying to create "excess demand" for military action. I get that. For what it is worth, there are a great many smart people on the right who believe that the Bush administration has done precisely the opposite -- it has largely downplayed Iran's various crimes against the United States and Israel in order to leave itself the political room to negotiate with Iran in public, as it has been doing now for some months.
There you have it, from the Cheney wing of the asylum.

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