For a long time, we heard that Iran was a threat because it was actively pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Iran has consistently avowed that in only wants to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Despite machinations by Dick Cheney's Iran Directorate--an intelligence crock pot that serves the same purpose that Cheney's Office of Special Plans did during the run up to the Iraq invasion--no proof that Iran is lying about its nuclear intentions has emerged.
A couple weeks ago, around the time the U.S. naval buildup in the Gulf region was announced and Admiral William Fallon was nominated to take charge of Central Command, the story on Iran changed. The problems in Iraq weren't being caused so much by that pesky al Qaeda as they were by those dadburned meddling Iranians.
On Wednesday, CNN.com International ran a story that cited two unnamed "officials" in the U.S. government as saying the Pentagon was "investigating whether the attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives" and that "We believe it's possible the executors of the attack were Iranian or Iranian-trained."
Come Thursday, lo and behold, Fox News (of all media outlets) reported that the Pentagon has detained several Iraqis for questioning in the Karbala attacks, including two senior Iraqi generals. The money quote:
Because high-level generals were possibly involved, the Pentagon said, it raises questions about the loyalty and trustworthiness of Iraqi military officers at the highest levels.
The loyalty and trustworthiness of high-level Iraqi military officers is questionable? Get out!
The Burden of Proof Goes Poof!
Last month, Iran's ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi-Qomi challenged U.S. officials to show "any shred of evidence" of Iranian meddling in Iraq. Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S ambassador to Iraq and charter member of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, promised last week to produce that evidence. American officials initially planned to produce the dossier on Tuesday.
As the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday, the Bush administration has decided to postpone making proof of its allegations public "amid internal divisions over the strength of the evidence."
We don't want a repeat of the situation we had when [then-Secretary of State] Colin L. Powell went before the United Nations," said one U.S. official, referring to Powell's 2003 presentation on then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons program that relied on evidence later found to be false. "People are going to be skeptical."
People aren't going to be skeptical. People--at least the ones who can spell their own names correctly--already are skeptical. In fact, they're downright incredulous.
And speaking of incredulous…
Chirac Takes It Back
French president Jacques Chirac pulled a Biden-class gaffe on Monday when he told the international press "I would say that what is dangerous about this situation is not the fact of having a nuclear bomb - having one, maybe a second one a little later, well that's not very dangerous."
The bomb would be of no use to Iran, Chirac continued. "Where will it drop it this bomb? On Israel? It would not have gone 200m into the atmosphere before Tehran would be razed to the ground."
Chirac later called a second press conference to take back his statement, saying that he assumed his earlier remarks--made to a recorded interview with the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and the Nouvel Observateur, were "off the record."
You thought your comments were off the record my derrière, Frere Jacques.
Chirac was saying what any sane political scientist knows. Even if Iran does produce a nuclear weapon--and that's a big if--it would never dare use it except as a desperate defensive measure. Chirac is expected to step down as president in May. Good on him for telling the press what needed to be heard and then saying Merde, I forgot I was talking to the press (heh, heh).
Springtime's End for Dubya?
We had one Hitler in the 20th century. How many will we have in the 21st? Osama bin Laden was Hitler after 9/11. Saddam Hussein was Hitler during the run up to the Iraq invasion. Now, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Hitler. If Ahmadinejad gets run out of power, who will we Hitlerize next?
I don't know, but it's a safe bet that somebody in Dick Cheney's office is already working on the problem.
It's just possible that the leaves are starting to turn orange on Mr. Bush's springtime. The L.A. Times identifies one of the officials who want to hold off on releasing the "proof" of Iranian interference in Iraq is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Maybe Bush's favorite office wife has decided she doesn't want to get bent over the kitchen table like her predecessor Colin Powell was when he got tapped to present bad intelligence on Iraq to the United Nations.
But maybe she's just part of a stratagem that will say "See, we double checked this time!"
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.