Reports out of Iraq catalogue a dramatic continued collapse of security conditions even after Bush administration’s escalation plan has been put in place. Leading Republicans have given the plan through Labor Day to work, but General Petraeus has been busy disabusing them of the notion that there is much prospect for that. And that leaves many Washington observers wondering what is next? Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland gives us a glimpse of “Plan B” in his piece on Sunday:
There is growing concern in Baghdad that Washington is developing a “Plan B” that involves both hitting Iran and ousting Maliki — who ironically was brought to office by American pressure to force out Ibrahim al-Jafari, Maliki’s predecessor. The concern is augmented by demands from both sides of the aisle in Congress that Maliki meet obviously unrealistic benchmarks quickly or face a cutoff of U.S. support.
Hoagland reminds us of Vice President Cheney’s recent visit to Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and his delivery of an incendiary, taunting anti-Iranian speech from the deck of an aircraft carrier. He also notes Iran’s shameless capture of a prominent American academic, Haleh Esfandiari, on ludicrous espionage charges. There are more pieces to that puzzle that go unnoted, for instance, the Iranians’ seizure of former senior FBI agent Bobbie Levinson. And conversely, the American seizure and continued detention on baseless charges of five Iranians sent to the Kurdish city of Arbil to establish a consulate. Condoleezza Rice had suggested that they be released, but this move was blocked by Dick Cheney – obviously it got in the way of his war-mongering plans.
President Bush’s Neocon advisors have a perfect remedy for the quagmire of Iraq: start a new war. This thinking, indeed, lurked behind the Iranian-American proxy war fought last summer in Lebanon. As the Vinograd Commission concluded, that war was a humiliating defeat for the United States and its proxy, Israel. So now the geniuses who cooked it up are busy working on still more spectacularly stupid plans. Don’t expect them to honestly air their intentions in the public, however. It’s not the Neocon way.