Saturday, January 06, 2007

Is Bush a neoconservative hawk on Iran?

I would like to believe that the Bush Administration isn't actually trying to start a war with Iran. Threaten it, sure, but actually start a war? Surely even Bush can see that America, for all its strength, can't actually invade Iran and succeed at anything except creating more chaos, especially when it's not even able to control the chaos in Iraq at this point.

Maybe there's enough acceptance of reality in the US government to understand that invasion of Iran is not an option. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case for Bush's neoconservative backers, the ones who convinced so many people, including me I'm sorry to say, that a democratic Iraq was possible through military invasion.

Urgings for a military confrontation with Iran have been popping up in neoconservative online dens such as Real Clear Politics and National Review Online. All of the writers seem to take it as given that such a fight will be won by the US, so long as the US has the will to win. This bizarre belief that the US can do anything it wants to just so long as it wants to do it strongly enough has been dubbed Green Lantern theory of geopolitics by Matthew Yglesias. It's disturbing to think that there are people who want a confrontation with Iran on the basis of that theory.

But is Bush one of those people? He's still hanging out with the neocons at the American Enterprise Institute, the people who convinced Bush to basically wipe his ass with the Iraq Study Group report in favour of a "surge" strategy which is predicated on the assumption that "victory" is still an achievable goal in iraq, so it does seem like he'd be willing to buy an invasion of Iran if it's wrapped up in enough sweet-smelling bullshit.

And the bullshit coming out of the Corner and others smells especially sweet. Take this offering from Real Clear Politics: To Win in Baghdad, Strike at Iran.

Now there's a brilliant way to sidestep the festering issue of Iraq when talking about invading Iran: you don't have to worry about fixing Iraq before invading Iran because invading Iran is what will fix Iraq! Tally ho! Too bad it's such a tunnel-view of the situation. But that does seem to be a hallmark of neoconservative thought: complex reality gets ignored in favour of simple-sounding summations, in this case boiling down all the troubles in Iraq to Iranian interference.

Reading through, Mr Tracinski also has a clever way of saying why a declaration of war against Iran should not be viewed as a declaration of war against Iran: because we're already at war with Iran because of actions taken against US interests in the Middle East. Somehow I think that excuse will fly even less well at the UN than the excuse for the Iraq invasion did. Not that neoconservatives care about even token respect for international institutions of course.

Trackinski's article does seem to have an appeal if you believe that the world is engaged in a struggle between Good (the West and democracy) vs Evil ("islofascism" in all its forms). It also works if you believe that the US will decisively win an armed conflict with Iran. Bush believes the first. I don't know about the second. But given that he's still talking about "victory" in Iraq when the overwhelming majority of American citizens have given up on that being an achievable goal....well, it doesn't look good.

No comments: