As always, Juan Cole is right on the mark today in his analysis of the latest Bush-Cheney moves against Iran. Yesterday, the U. S. announced new sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and several Iranian banks. As Cole points out, this maneuver stinks of the usual Bush-Cheney hypocrisy. The administration accuses Iran of supporting terrorism, when that's just what the U. S. is doing with the Kurdish guerillas now attacking both Turkey and Iran (see here). The new sanctions completely ignore the complexities of Iranian politics and will probably have little effect. For an excellent assessment of what it all means, see this article in Asia Times.
A U S. strike against Iran is probably on the way. The neocons, led by Dick Cheney, appear determined to hit Iran before they leave office. Republicans are lining up with the usual rhetoric declaring Iran a major threat. None of it is true, but that doesn't seem to matter. Iran is many years away from nuclear capabilities and does not have a delivery system remotely capable of threatening the U. S. The evidence that Iran is supplying weapons to the Iraqi insurgency is thin--about as convincing as the evidence that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction in 2002. In any case, the neocons never examine the fine points: the Iraqi insurgency is almost exclusively Sunni, historic enemies of Iranian Shi'ites. It is extremely unlikely that Iran or any of its clients would be providing arms to Sunni insurgents, who in fact are fighting against a Shi'ite government recognized and favored by Iran.
What really boggles the mind is the stunning incompetence of the neocons clamoring for war with Iran. That they are ideologically bizarre has been demonstrated repeatedly, but why does everything Cheney and his thugs do have to be so incredibly counter to U. S. interests? The occupation of Iraq has given al Qaeda new life; it has strengthened the Iranian position in the Gulf; it has strained the U. S. military to the point of collapse; it has destroyed U. S. credibility in the world community; it has run up a staggering debt. In no way has this debacle improved U. S. security. A strike against Iran would be more of the same. It will bolster the tenuous grip on power of the erratic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wants nothing more than to lead Iran in a military conflict with the U. S. It will disrupt the flow of oil from the Gulf. It will lead to much more dangerous circumstances for U. S. troops in Iraq. And it will probably lead to Iranian attacks on Israel. It could easily and quickly spiral out of control. Iran is capable of causing enormous damage--around the Gulf, in Iraq, in Israel, in Afghanistan. Do the neocons seriously think that Iran will simply change its ways and toe the U. S. line?
A military strike against Iran poses cataclysmic possibilities. It does nothing to make this country or its allies more secure. It would be the final move of a desperate administration unpopular at home and despised around the world.