What worries me more than anything is the Bush Administration has nothing to lose. They are term limited (assuming they yield the White House to whomever may win it next year). They have the next best thing to a zero approval rating except with Democrats in Congress who seem to shake in their boots whenever the word "terrorism" is mentioned. They have some kind of weird, almost occult power over the Executive Branch, contorting in to shapes one barely recognizes. With all the rhetoric concerning the alleged threat of Iran, I thought it might be prudent to present an alternative view of things, at least an alternative to the nonsense constantly streaming from mouthpieces in Washington.
Iran and Iraq, despite a long war two decades ago, now have much more in common socially and religiously than previously. They have multiple shared interests, not the least of which is removing the American monkey from around their necks. They have similar security concerns (Kurds seeking autonomy, the ideological and religious struggle with their Sunni neighbors). Had we a rational, prudent Administration in office, peopled with those schooled in real politique, we might be courting Iran, rather than doing everything we could to antagonize them. For a decade, the Iranians have been trying to develop better relations with the US. A reform-minded President, a modernizing population chafing at the strictures of the ayatollahs, and a thriving democracy that does not like its will overruled by ideological hard-liners (the last sounds awfully familiar . . .), Iran is ripe for some serious coddling by the US. With Iraq as an opening line, courting Iran would be relatively easy. Of course, there will always be differences with any country with whom we have relations. The way to deal with that, if we had diplomats who understood diplomacy, is to ignore points of friction, and concentrate on those areas where co-operation is possible. We still hold millions or perhaps even billions in Iranian national assets frozen from the days of the Islamic revolution as a carrot to use, after all.
Iran has done nothing to threaten the United States. Indeed, since the attacks on September 11, they have been attempting to thaw the cold shoulder we keep turning upon them. They gave us operational intelligence against the Taliban in Afghanistan. They offered us condolences and prayers in the wake of the attacks themselves (the same can not be said for the Saudis). The "foreign nationals" who are aiding and abetting the insurgents are from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, and Algeria, the same places the hijackers on September 11 cam from. Of course, the Bush Administration has never let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good dose of propaganda.
As far as the Iranian nuclear program is concerned, I fail to see where that is any business of ours. There is little evidence the program is concerned with anything other than civilian energy. Even if Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, (a) we have the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, so silence might be prudent; (b) we have good relations with Israel, India, and Pakistan, nuclear nations that have thwarted international treaties on proliferation, and whose stability (or, at least, the stability of their leaders) is always in question; (c) should we court them diplomatically, it might actually work better in slowing any attempt at building a bomb, rather than the threats we keep shouting at them. The only slightly possible target of any Iranian nuclear threat would be Israel, who has a healthy nuclear arsenal of its own and has always shown a willingness to strike first those who threaten its security.
Just to really tick off Marshall, I would like to state categorically that I do not believe the popular view of Iranian President Ahmedinajad as an unstable autocrat. Those descriptions are the stock in trade of the slander machine. Qadafi, Hussein, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, Jean Bertrand Aristide - all of them have been painted as mentally deficient, sexually perverse, mentally unstable or demented, and posing a direct threat to the United States in some manner fashion or form. All of them have led countries far from the United States, with few resources (except, of course, for oil). In the case of Aristide, he was President of the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. The father/son pair of Kims in the two Koreas lead a nation teetering on the brink of collapse for over a decade now. One wonders how any sane individual, considering the evidence rationally, could possibly consider any of them a threat. Confronted by an Iran that has much to offer the world, and the US specifically, we seem to be working against our interests in dealing with them diplomatically. Of course, that seems to be the modus operandi of the Bush team - do the opposite of what makes sense. Counter intuitive actions only work if they produce results, something we are still waiting on from Bush and the rest of them.
Having said all that, I still believe it is more than likely that, despite the bloody quicksand of Iraq, it is more than likely the United States will drum up some excuse to attack Iran. Should we do that - provided the generals either don't mutiny or resign en masse - it might be the end of American power, not just in the Middle East, but in the world. Of course, that might not be a bad thing . . .