Back in the good old days when global nuclear annihilation was a real and present danger and not just something Dick Cheney talked about to scare people, the United States fought its proxy wars with superpowers like the Soviet Union. Today, to hear neocon echo chamberlains tell it, our quagmire in Iraq is a proxy war with Iran, a country with an economy and a defense budget that are barely six percent of America’s.
That, my fellow citizens, is what became of your Cold War peace dividend.
I was captivated by this revolting development in the history of my country, and decided to take my trusty sidekick Google on an adventure to figure how out how and when such a Monty Python caliber phenomenon got started.
Their Pet Scapegoat
We traveled back to 2004, which was a tough year in young Mr. Bush’s woebegone war on terror. The tallest Arab ever wanted dead or alive by a U.S. President was still at large, and things were coming unraveled in Iraq. Falluja, Najaf and Baghdad went up for grabs, Abu Ghraib blew up in our faces like a joke shop cigar, and oh yeah, remember those weapons of mass destruction we supposedly invaded Iraq over? 2004 was the year we found out there weren’t any.
Bush and the neocons needed a distraction. They needed an excuse. Most of all, they needed a scapegoat. And one was parked right next door. Convenient, huh?
On August 13, 2004, shortly after the price of crude oil reached the first of many record highs to follow, Juli Stahl, Jerusalem Bureau Chief of the conservative Cybercast News Service, posted an article titled, “Iran Fighting Proxy War against U.S. through Iraqi Shiites, Hizballah.”
“Iran is using the Hizballah and Iraqi Shiites linked to Muqtada al-Sadr to fight a proxy war against the U.S.,” Stahl wrote, “in order to strike back against American efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.”
Stahl used a number of shaky methods to support her claims. Nearly everyone she quoted, for instance, had an identifiable ax to grind with al-Sadr. One of her sources, Israeli counterterrorism specialist Dr. Ely Karmon, said that, "The Shia Islamic revolutionary council was trained and supported by Iran for 20 years."
I am not a counterterrorism specialist, and had never heard of the “Shia Islamic revolutionary council.” Google had never heard about it either, but we’d both heard quite a bit about the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), the Iraqi Shiite political party that until recently called itself the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).
The SIIC nee SCIRI must have been what Dr. Karmon meant when he referred to the Shia Islamic Revolutionary council, because the SCIRI was formed in Iran in 1982. The SIIC has a military force called the Badr Organization that used to call itself the Badr Corps or the Badr Brigade back when the SIIC called itself the SCIRI. Google confirmed something I thought I remembered, that it was the SIIC’s Badr baddies who where who were funded, trained and equipped by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), not Sadr’s Mahdis.
Google reminded me of something else. It was in 2005 that former Badr Brigade commander Bayan Jaber of the Interior Ministry was accused of recruiting large numbers of Badr militiamen into Iraq’s security forces and of tacitly allowing them to form death squads that targeted Sunnis. I also remembered correctly, Google informed me, that back when it was the SCIRI, the SIIC had joined Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Daawa Party to form a Shiite political coalition called the United Iraqi Alliance that opposes Sadr and his followers.
And it was Jabr’s Iranian funded, trained and equipped SIIC Badr bubbas in Iraq’s security forces who Maliki maneuvered into Basra to crush Sadr’s Mahdi militamen, and who U.S. forces had to bail out of trouble when Sadr’s Mahdis started beating the Badr’s behinds back to Baghdad instead.
Oddly though, when the Mahdis shelled Baghdad’s Green Zone in reprisal for the Badrs launching an offensive against them, General David Petraeus, young Mr. Bush’s “main man” in Iraq, accused the Iranians of having funded, trained, equipped the Mahdis, not the Badrs. Funny how a guy like Petraeus could get things all turned around like that, what with everybody saying how brilliant he is and all. The people who cooked up this story about the Iranians and Sadr’s Mahdis in the first place must be some mighty clever dis-assemblers; that was my thinking, anyway, so I had Google drop me off where we started, at the 2004 story by the Israeli gal who quoted the Israeli doctor who’s not that kind of doctor but a PhD in terrorism or some such thing.
And I ran into this paragraph:
Iran and other regional players, such as the Iranian-backed Hizballah in southern Lebanon decided that the only way to fight America was to let it enter Iraq, believing that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would fight the Americans, which did not happen, said Karmon.
Iran let America enter Iraq? Jesus, Larry and Curly. That’s lock-‘em-up crazy people talk. And yet this reporter gal and this terror doctor are still walking around in the general population talking crazy about Iran, and it seems that General Petraeus has been listening to them and taking them seriously all this time.
Google and I found more than 99 thousand articles on the web that referenced “petraeus iran proxy war,” and it looks like the General has been trying to connect Sadr’s Mahdis and Iran’s IRGC ever since his tenure as the U.S. commander in Iraq began looking shaky and he started needing somebody to blame for things like him not being able to defend the Green Zone from a mortar attack after more than a year of “success” with his surge strategy.
I don’t know what Google thinks, but I get the definite impression that Petraeus hasn’t been confused by anybody, that he knows good and well he’s telling fibs and that he’s trying to fool people into believing things that aren’t true.
Here’s another thought: you don’t suppose folks like the general and the reporter gal and the terror doctor might be taking advantage of the fact that the average American doesn’t know SIIC from SCIRI or a Shiite from a Sunni or Sadr from a Badr or a Mahdi from a Saudi, do you?
I tell you what. Google and me will bet you a shiny new penny that’s exactly what they’re up to.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword.
"So we can play war…"
"Populated by outrageous characters and fueled with pompous outrage, Huber’s irreverent broadside will pummel the funny bone of anyone who’s served." — Publishers Weekly
"A remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight." — Booklist
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