Taking The Bait: War With Iran Would Only Come If We Stay In Iraq

Here is a new line of thinking I find extremely infuriating, via TPM:

Deciding what to do next about Iraq is hard — on the merits, and in the politics. It’s hard on the merits because whatever comes next, from “surge” to “get out now” and everything in between, will involve suffering, misery, and dishonor. . . . By comparison, Iran is easy: on the merits, in the politics. War with Iran would be a catastrophe that would make us look back fondly on the minor inconvenience of being bogged down in Iraq. While the Congress flounders about what, exactly, it can do about Iraq, it can do something useful, while it still matters, in making clear that it will authorize no money and provide no endorsement for military action against Iran.

Matt Yglesias ran with the same nonsense the other day:

[W]hat I'd urge everyone to do is keep their eyes on the real ball in the air at the moment: Iran. If Bush really bombs Iran and spineless Democrats back him ex post facto then the whole Iraq dynamic changes dramatically, and not for the better. If you want to hassle your member of congress on behalf of some peacenik cause this month, hassle him or her about Iran.

This is so wrong, so obtuse, so plain dumb from both Fallows and Yglesias, that I simply can't understand how they came to think these things. Let's be clear -- the chance of Congress authorizing military action against Iran is zero. Zilch. None. Bush will not even consider asking for it. Everyone must know this. How could they not? The ONLY reason Bush can even contemplate action against Iran is - surprise - BECAUSE WE ARE IN IRAQ! You want to stop military action against Iran? Then work like hell to get us out of Iraq. This is too obvious. How could these smart people not see this?

Consider Ed Kilgore's surprise that Bush would use Iraq as the pretext to attack Iran:

[T]he really weird thing: reports are now coming out that Bush and Cheney are considering a military confrontation with Iran that has nothing to do with its nuclear program.

Check out this report yesterday from U.S. News:

The US News Political Bulletin has learned Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly concerned that President Bush will order air strikes against targets in Iran in the next few months or even weeks. They cite as evidence the tough warnings from senior Administration officials, including the Commander in Chief, that Iranian help for insurgents in Iraq is leading to the deaths of US troops and Iraqi civilians. Democratic insiders tell the Political Bulletin that they suspect Bush will order the bombing of Iranian supply routes, camps, training facilities, and other sites that Administration officials say contribute to American losses in Iraq. Under this scenario, Bush would not invade Iran with ground forces or zero in on Iranian nuclear facilities.
If true, this is a much crazier idea than anything being contemplated in Israel. Whatever Iran is up to in Iraq, the reality is that its primary agents in Iraq are SCIRI and its Badr Corps militia, which the Bush administration has called the great hope for marginalizing the Mahdi Army and building a "unity" government. And for that matter, the Maliki government is unmistakably pro-Iran as well. It's hard to overestimate the extent to which a shooting war with Iran could destroy what little influence the U.S. still has in Iraq, unless we're going to make the Sunni insurgency our new base of support. . .

It is not weird at all Ed. It is the ONLY way Bush can get at Iran. He has no authority to attack Iran. Hell, there is not even a plausible plan for attacking Iran's alleged nuclear facilities. We don't even have a clue where they are. As for the effect on the Iraq War, since when has the Bush Administration ever done anything that made sense in Iraq?

Do people not get it yet? It is not only that the Bush Administration is filled with shameless liars, it is that the Bush Adminstration is the worst in history. Their incompetence knows no bounds.

But my question is what are people like Fallows and Yglesias thinking? Don't push on Iraq because of Iran? Excuse me, one of the reasons to push hard on Iraq is to preclude an attack on Iran!

Bush does have a Congressional blank check on Iraq - the 2002 Iraq AUMF. He has no check at all on Iran. Any action taken against Iran MUST be justified by reference to the Iraq authority.

To argue that we must forget Iraq to concentrate on Iran is an argument so obtuse that is amazing that any intelligent person, and both Yglesias and Fallows are extremely intelligent, could possibly make it.

It is as plain as the nose on your face - to stop a war with Iran, we must end the war in Iraq.

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    Easy to get congressional Democrats on board (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by falstaff on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 04:54:42 PM EST
    I think it is rather naive to rule out war with Iran because Congress won't approve it; the original post ignores the Israeli factor.

    It is widely reported that the Israeli's intend to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, and they have the means to do so -- if the U.S. lets them. If Bush/Cheney want a war with Iran, they'll let the Israeli's attack through U.S.-controlled Iraqi airspace. If Iran retaliates and missiles land in Israel, or sink an American warship, does anyone really think Congressional Democrats will block "counter-attacks" against Iran?

    Hillary has been pushing a tough on Iran policy for years; Edwards recently went on record with a "no options off the table" position; what Congressional Democrat will have the spine to block war on Iran if Israel is directly threatened?

    Just a reminder (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 06:37:09 PM EST
    Please use the link button at the top of the comment box to post a link.  Otherwise, long links skew the site and I have to delete the comment.  I can't edit comments, I can only delete them.

    Just type words for your link like "new meme on Iran", highlight it, click the link button and paste in the url.  It's really easy.


    Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 12:41:58 AM EST
    They went along with Iraq, didn't they? Based on that track record I find your optimism most puzzling.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:26:05 PM EST
    Iraq is the big problem and we have to get out ASAP. No ifs ands or buts.

    You have to admit, though, that the BS leading up to the war in Iran is written from exactly the same playbook as the one that led up to the war in Iraq. Do you think that this obvious coincidence is just a red herring meant to distract from the mess in Iraq?

    This I am not so sure about:

    Let's be clear -- the chance of Congress authorizing military action against Iran is zero. Zilch. None. Bush will not even consider asking for it.

    An argument has been made that many in Congress have already agreed that "nothing should be taken off the table" in regards to Iran. This is an endorsement of Bush's preemptive war BS. Hillary said it and so has Edwards. Many in Congress are so out of touch with the real world that I wouldn't be surprised if they fell for the neocon trap again.

    No no no (1.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:38:22 PM EST
    Presidential candidates mouth the empty words "no op tions off the table" all the time.

    Let me ask you this, what are the chances that Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposes authorizing Bush attack Iran?

    That John Murtha will support such an autorization?

    Negative 100.

    Peope need to think.


    Sorry But, (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:41:18 PM EST
    I have lost all faith in the members of congress. That Hillary going on about how hard it is to get 60 votes is weak. The fact that these knuckleheads are wasting time going on and on about a non-binding non-partisan resolution to cap troop levels is nauseating.

    I agree with you that we can thank the Republicans for killing the bill.

    As far as Pelosi goes, I do not know what she will do. As of yet the Dems at large have not woken up from their slumber. I am not impressed and not hopeful. Murtha represents a small minority regarding Iraq troop withdrawal.

    If the Dems were awake they would put immediate withdrawal on the table and let the Republicans quash it. That would be drawing a clear line, as it is a Republican war after all.

    Do you think that we should ignore the drum beat to go to war with Iran?


    On Iran (none / 0) (#29)
    by Sailor on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 05:29:47 PM EST
    Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse
    Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.

    Squeaky (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:40:25 PM EST
    Let us assume that we do nothing about Iran.

    Negotiations fail and Iran develops nuclear weapons.

    Do you think is is a good thing?

    Do you believe Iran's threat to destroy Israel?

    When they carry out their threat will you agree that it is time for war?


    When? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:43:12 PM EST
    Not even an IF Jim?

    My gawd.


    BTD (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:45:31 PM EST
    Hmmmmm.... Did you miss the "assume?"

    Do you want to answer the questions?


    You answer them for us (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:53:17 PM EST
    "Do you believe Iran's threat to destroy Israel?"

    then  you ask "When Iran nukes Israel . . "

    I assumed it was a rhetorical question.

    I suggest you make up your mind if it is rhetorical or not.


    BTD (1.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:11:28 PM EST
    So you don't want to answer.

    If I were you I wouldn't want to either.


    Which ones Jim? (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:22:16 PM EST
    Try not answering them first if you want my answers.

    I will not play your game. Lay out your questions as questions.


    Okay... just for you, BTD (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:27:36 PM EST
    Let us assume that we do nothing about Iran.

    Let us assume Negotiations fail and Iran develops nuclear weapons.

    Do you think is is a good thing?

    Do you believe Iran's threat to destroy Israel?

    Let assume they carry out their threat ...will you agree that it is time for war?


    Answers (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 06:46:48 PM EST




    BTD - When? (1.00 / 2) (#37)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 08:06:14 AM EST
    So negotiations have failed, Iran has nukes.

    But don't believe Iran will attack and destroy Israel despite what Iran has said.

    Now we assume that Iran has done what you say they won't do, and have attacked and destroyed Israel.

    This, of course, changes the balance of power in the ME and Europe, giving Iran control of both the ME and Europe.

    And you still won't agree that it is time to go to war.


    When will you fight?


    Iran would strike (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 03:47:09 PM EST
    after Israel did.

    So that is not a causus belli.

    Let me ask you this, when do we attack Israel?

    Much more likely to nuke than anyone else in the region.  


    Assumptions? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Repack Rider on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 03:58:25 PM EST
    Let us assume that next Christmas, every kid in the world gets a pony.

    Will you then admit that it is time to start believing in Santa Claus?

    Let us assume that the president is a thinking human being who carefully considers all aspects of a problem.

    Sorry.  I'll accept the pony assumption, but that is too much of a stretch.


    RePack (1.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 04:34:46 PM EST



    So, you hate Bush.

    Do you have another point?


    I don't hate Bush (none / 0) (#41)
    by Repack Rider on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 12:05:31 AM EST
    I hate liars, incompetents and crooks, and he is merely one of many.

    It is already a war with Iran. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:38:15 PM EST
    It always has been.

    The situation in Iraq now is exactly what Cheney/Bush/PNAC wanted it to be and have worked for it to be for many years, and that they hope to be able to use this situation, as Iran moves in to fill the power void, to justify attacking Iran. To point to Iran moving in and say "see - we told you so - Iran wants to take over".

    IOW, it has been a long war with Iran. Iraq, and the Iraqi people, were just incidental expendable pawns in the game, as are the US Troops who have died or been maimed there.

    The Build Up To Iran Timeline: September 2000 through January 11, 2007

    Cheney Says Dems Can't Stop Bush's War With Iran

    By Patriot Daily, Sun Nov 19, 2006

    [Seymour Hersh:]
    If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put "shorteners" on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way."

    Bush Team is not concerned that the Democrats would cut funding for the Iraq war but that the Democrats might enact legislation that would prohibit the US from funding operations to overthrow or destabilize Iran:

    Please quote what Cheney said (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:39:29 PM EST
    This is not accurate. He said this about IRAQ.

    Hersh's discussion (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:42:26 PM EST
    of the Boland Amendment history is simply wrong.

    Congress in fact funded the Contras for many many years then cut off funding.

    The Reagan Administration in fact did not use government funds not because of the Boland Amendment, but because there was no funds allcated for the Contras.

    Hersh gets it wrong.


    Pandoras (none / 0) (#10)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:49:00 PM EST
    nuclear box shoild have been secured a long time ago.

    How is any nation with means and physicists not going to attempt to secure the only failsafe detterent when its closest percieved enemy has it and its been subjected to nothing but barnyard strutting and inflamatory rhetoric from the nation with the most?

    Chickensh*t on Fox and.. (none / 0) (#12)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:02:03 PM EST
    Chicken(very)Hawks in the barnyard.

    Don't understand the discussion (none / 0) (#18)
    by koshembos on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 02:34:46 PM EST
    The problem is not whether the junta will ask for authorization or not. We are in Iraq and unless the streets fill up with rioting demonstrators, we will be there as long as the junta is in power. Calling for withdrawal, although being the best for the US and Iraq, is not going to work.

    Iran now seems to the junta as a great escape and the road to victory. How do you stop those guys from changing a conventional disaster into a devastating disaster? I am afraid that I have no clue!

    Not to be... (none / 0) (#25)
    by unbill on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 04:41:02 PM EST
    dumb as well, but I think that the point that Yglesias was making is that Bush very well could bomb Iran without asking Congress for approval, and that the Democrats could then "ex post facto" be spineless enough to go along with it. This would be realistic enough a scenario, knowing the history of the Democrats in falling down on major decisions. And even a quick withdrawal from Iraq would give Bush enough time to hit Iran with a one-two punch just to prove something.

    BTD, you may be right that getting out of Iraq is the crux of the issue, but with this president, it probably wouldn't matter much if Congress doesn't want to attack Iran when he gives the order. So, catching Yglesias' drift, it seems that one should "hassle" Congress about including proactive attempts to stop any attack in Iran into the current discussion, when only just to be on the safe side of things.

    We already blew it with Iran (none / 0) (#30)
    by Dadler on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 05:53:22 PM EST
    The Iranians offered in 2003 to give us essentially what we are now asking for, but Cheney, the man who has been right about NOTHING in this conflict, turned it down in typically reactionary and counterproductive fashion.  Much to the chagrin of those whose minds, as opposed to the Veep's, have proven much more prescient.  

    We will be paying for these idiotic errors of pride and greed and ignorance for generations.


    Dadler - Who could believe this? (1.00 / 1) (#38)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 08:55:12 AM EST
    Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion.

    Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility.

    The offers came in a letter, seen by Newsnight, which was unsigned but which the US state department apparently believed to have been approved by the highest authorities.

    In return for its concessions, Tehran asked Washington to end its hostility, to end sanctions, and to disband the Iranian rebel group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and repatriate its members.

    Unsigned. Yes, that's the way all nations conduct diplomacy. Tell you what. I'll send you an unsigned letter telling you that I'll give you a million dollars if you will sign over your house.

    Transparent. Yes indeed. I will let you have a clear view of me working on nuclear weapons, but I won't stop, and since I didn't say I would stop, you can't complain.

    Dadler, anyone who would believe that is naive to the max.

    Have you forgoteen that Iran kept right on working on its nuclear program while claim it wasn't?


    Iran's (none / 0) (#39)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 09:20:02 AM EST
    ...offers came in a letter, seen by Newsnight, which was unsigned but which the US state department apparently believed to have been approved by the highest authorities.

    ...and of course they were rejected. Iran had called theit bluff by offering exactly what had bee requested by the US. Bush et al had and have no more intention of working with Iran through diplomacy than they had of doing so with Iraq.

    One of BUsh's problems is that compared to Iran - who has been doing this kind of stuff for 2500 years -  Saddam's diplomacy capabilities were childish, on about the same level as Bush's.


    Edger's problem (none / 0) (#43)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 08:13:54 AM EST
    is that he us willing to believe an unsigned letter....

    Who in the DOS believed it was not a fake? Who believed it was actually approved of by the leadership?

    Why are you will believe anything that our enemies say??

    Wanna buy a bridge this morning? Low down payment, easy terms...

    And 2500 years??? Yes, they have done some many wonderful things... hanging homosexuals, hanging rape victims....

    What was the punch line of that guy...

    "What a country!"


    Bush is settling us up... (none / 0) (#31)
    by mattes on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 06:23:17 PM EST
    for new meme on Iran, since:

    Non-Aligned Movement officials tour Iranian nuclear facility

    Diplomats from the Non-Aligned movement, Arab League and Group of 77 began touring Iran's nuclear facility at Isfahan Saturday.

    The visit to the Isfahan Uranium Conversion facility in central Iran comes ahead of a United Nations deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment by later this month.

    The diplomats will only visit the Isfahan plant, not the facility at Natanz, where Iran is expected to announce this month that it has successfully installed several thousands of centrifuges.


    ...so now the reason is Iraq.

    Look at the administrations mindsets. (none / 0) (#34)
    by kindness on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 08:07:49 PM EST
    They aren't going to ask for permission.  They refuse to believe any other body can stop them.

    It's not all sure they'll be able to attack Iran.  It's entirely sure that bushco wants to.  They are just waiting for the excuse.

    Iraq is a bad, very bad place for the US to be.  Iraq & Iran is almost unimaginable.  Some of us think our elected leaders, on both sides, don't believe bush43 will pull the trigger.

    Me, I think that since it isn't his personal ass on the line, and because thier posse will make even more money on the future contracts required to quell the whole of the middle east...Darth pulling dumbya's strings will do it without blinking an eye.

    That's what worries me.  It's all about money and power.

    Political Showmanship (none / 0) (#40)
    by Edger on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 11:01:23 AM EST
    Bush and Cheney want to attack Iran. It is part of the Neocon objective of ensuring the US position as sole remaining superpower for as many years into the future as possible, and as a sub-goal to that and powering it, establishing strategic control over Middle Eastern energy production. After invading Iraq and spending 4 years clumsily and incompetently trying to steal absolute control of the Iraq oil industry, the world's second largest proven oil reserves, but instead creating civil chaos in the country that has produced a power void that Iran is moving in to fill, Bush and Cheney have their backs against the wall now and are desperate to ensure the energy control they set out to acquire.
    "Control is what it's all about," one oilman told me. "It's not about getting the oil, it's about controlling oil's price."

    Only seemingly paradoxically, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also wants Bush and Cheney to attack Irans' reactors and nuclear research installations. His popularity has been waning for some time inside Iran, as the Iranian people have been increasingly becoming more liberal minded, and if he is to survive politically he needs an evil, demonized enemy as much if not more so than Bush does.

    Iran's uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes.

    Despite Iran being presented as an urgent threat to nuclear non-proliferation and regional and world peace - in particular by an increasingly bellicose Israel and its closest ally, the US - a number of Western diplomats and technical experts close to the Iranian programme have told The Observer it is archaic, prone to breakdown and lacks the materials for industrial-scale production.

    Ahmadinejad needs to play in the big leagues to appear to his people as a big leaguer. He is playing a game of chicken with the US, and probably cares about his people probably even less than Bush does about Iranian or American lives. So he blusters and bluffs and the 26 percenters, the peasants, on both sides buy into both his and Bushs' bullsh*t:
    After decades of largely clandestine efforts, Iran is expected to declare in coming days that it has made a huge leap toward industrial-scale production of enriched uranium -- a defiant act that the country's leaders will herald as a major technical stride and its neighbors will denounce as a looming threat. But for now, many nuclear experts say, the frenetic activity at the desert enrichment plant in Natanz may be mostly about political showmanship.

    The many setbacks and outright failures of Tehran's experimental program suggest that its bluster may outstrip its technical expertise. And the problems help explain American intelligence estimates that Iran is at least four years away from producing a nuclear weapon.

    Iran's nuclear boasts come in the midst of an increasingly rancorous chess game between Tehran's mullahs and the Bush administration over the aims of Iran's nuclear programs, its role in Iraq and its ambitions to become the dominant power in the Middle East.
    Iran's very public declarations appear to contain large doses of domestic political posturing and outright bluffing.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become the face of Iranian defiance, is under growing pressure at home because of unemployment and the squeeze of economic sanctions -- and President Bush's advisers have said he may view a nuclear standoff with the United States as a way to help his standing. That, combined with evidence of problems at the pilot plant, suggest that the industrial push may be aimed as much at enriching Iran's political leverage as enriching uranium.

    Edger (none / 0) (#42)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 08:06:09 AM EST
    This is also from your souce..

    In Houston, I found in Jaffe a preppy, talky Jewish girl with a Bronx accent like a dentist's drill who, stranded in a cowboy world, poignantly wanted to be one of The Boys. She thinks she can accomplish this through fashion accoutrements -- she showed me her alligator cowboy boots and rolled her eyes -- "for Rodeo Day!"

    Lucky for me and my (hidden) recorder, she did not learn from Baker and the boys' Rule #1 for rulers: shut up.

    Somehow I don't find a lot of creditability...

    Sounds like this guy is wanting to sell books..



    You'll see it when you believe it. (none / 0) (#44)
    by jondee on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 11:39:01 AM EST

    As opposition grows in America... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Edger on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 02:29:55 PM EST
    ...to the failed Iraq adventure, the Bush administration is preparing public opinion for an attack on Iran, its latest target, by the spring.

    The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to "go anywhere and see anything". They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, says that an attack on Iran will have "catastrophic consequences" and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

    Unlike its two nemeses, the US and Israel, Iran has attacked no other countries.
    Iran has a history of obeying international law and occupies no territory other than its own.

    The "threat" from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted by familiar, compliant media language that refers to Iran's "nuclear ambitions", just as the vocabulary of Saddam's non-existent WMD arsenal became common usage. Accompanying this is a demonising that has become standard practice. As Edward Herman has pointed out, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "has done yeoman service in facilitating this"; yet a close examination of his notorious remark about Israel in October 2005 reveals how it has been distorted. According to Juan Cole, American professor of modern Middle East and south Asian history at the University of Michigan, and other Farsi language analysts, Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be "wiped off the map". He said: "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." This, says Cole, "does not imply military action or killing anyone at all". Ahmadinejad compared the demise of the Israeli regime to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Iranian regime is repressive, but its power is diffuse and exercised by the mullahs, with whom Ahmadinejad is often at odds. An attack would surely unite them.

    "Iran: The war begins"
    John Pilger, 05 February 2007