Friday, January 12, 2007

iran, iraq, and the bush plan

On the face of it the Bush plan seems difficult to explain: 20,000 troops to change a battle that 100,000 haven't succeeded at, and with very little popular support, to boot. On the other hand, it takes a plan to beat a plan, and the Democrats strategy--we support the troops already there, but won't send any more, even though we agree that the troops there aren't enough to win--is hardly a strategy at all. So the plan is likely to go ahead, and one can only hope for the best.

What makes the Bush strategy somewhat less difficult to fathom is the gathering conflict with Iran. That the troop increase is designed as a message to Teheran, no less than Baghdad, is suggested by its coupling with an overall increase in the size of the military (no one dreams that 90,000 more soldiers are going to Baghdad anytime soon); by the President's explicit warning to Iran in his Wednesday night speech; and by the repeated stories of Iranian "diplomats" being detained by American forces in Iraq, which have proliferated in recent days. In case anyone missed the point, the U.S. has also dispatched an additional aircraft carrier to the Iranian region.

Conventional wisdom has it the U.S. cannot do anything in Iran because it is either too early or too late to stop the Iranian nuclear program, and because we cannot afford to be bogged down in two countries at the same time. But the too problems are to some degree separate, and the military forces that would be used against Iran are by and large not implicated in the Iraq war. I'm not notably enthusiastic about a confrontation with Iran, mind you: I just think that it's more or less inevitable. Apparently, so does Bush.


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