Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

WAR FRENZY....The LA Times says that George Bush is expected to claim during tonight's State of the Union address that Iran is deeply involved in Iraq's civil war:

For all the aggressive rhetoric, however, the Bush administration has provided scant evidence to support these claims. Nor have reporters traveling with U.S. troops seen extensive signs of Iranian involvement. During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol.

The lack of publicly disclosed evidence has led to questions about whether the administration is overstating its case.

Golly. Overstating its case? The Bush administration?

This is ridiculous. I don't doubt that Iran is meddling in Iraq -- they're neighbors, after all -- but we've been watching them intensively for the past five years, we have 150,000 troops next door in Iraq, we've conducted uncounted raids on Iraqi insurgents, and the CIA and military intelligence have hundreds of analysts assigned to figuring out Iran's intentions and capabilities. And yet we've found very little. This suggests that Iranian meddling is fairly modest.

Iran is hardly a friend. They've been designated the top state sponsor of terrorism for years. They stone gays to death and support suicide attacks by Hezbollah. Their leaders support a repellant ideology of anti-semitism. It's a loathsome regime.

But that doesn't mean we ought to be at war with them, and we certainly shouldn't be at war over wildly exaggerated claims from an administration that's demonstrated conclusively that it can't be trusted with such claims. It's time for everyone to settle down.

Kevin Drum 12:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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Comments

That's an odd measure that the LA Times is using. You wouldn't expect Iran to be arming "Sunni insurgents"; you'd expect them to arming Shiites like themselves. It's a little like saying the Russians weren't involved in the Vietnamese civil war because relatively few ARVN soldiers were carrying Kalashnikovs. Having said that, I have no idea of the level of Iranian involvement in Iraq.

Posted by: VinnyD on January 23, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's notable that in Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies," he revealed that when TWA Flight 800 went down, we almost went to war with Iran because we thought Hezbollah might have been responsible.

Of course Clinton did not attack Iran, because evidence indicated that Hezbollah was not responsible. Making decisions based upon the evidence given to him ... remember when we had a President who did that?

Posted by: mmy on January 23, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Iran is Iraq's largest current supplier of yellowcake.

Posted by: ahab on January 23, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, one would expect Iranians to help Shiites, not Sunnis. But the new designated bad guy, Moqtata al-Sadr, is more anti-Iranian than the Iraqi government, and the most pro-Iranian faction, SCIRI, is part of the government.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 23, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK
That's an odd measure that the LA Times is using. You wouldn't expect Iran to be arming "Sunni insurgents";

Since those calling for a harder stance against Iran have claimed that Iran is stirring up trouble for the US by aiding both Sunni and Shi'a militants, that is exactly what you would expect if those claims were true.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

And yet we've found very little.

How would you know that Kevin? Since any such information would be top-secret and classified, it certainly wouldn't be released publicaly for fear of damaging national security. I think we should give the President of the United States the benefit on such questions of national security. No doubt President Bush knows something he can't say publicly and that's why we can be certain Iran is much more deeply involved with the terrorists in Iraq than you say it is.

Al
...

Posted by: lklffed on January 23, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Bi-Partisan Sincerity, My Bloody A...

Here are two moving songs about how my generation felt about an illegal war
http://www.garart.org/theuniversal-soldier/

Posted by: JoeGarcia on January 23, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously you don't speak wingnut well enough, Kevin. You see, if you find evidence of something, it supports your assertion. If you don't find evidence of something, it supports your assertion because it means the enemy is being very sneaky and hiding the evidence so you need to attack them.
To wit: Iraq has WMDs! If we find them, there they are, we need to invade to destroy them! If we don't find them, Saddam is hiding them really well and we need to invade to find and destroy them! If we don't find them after the war, they were secretly shipped to Syria, we need to attack to find the weapons!

Posted by: SP on January 23, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Al,
1. Trust this president? Not farther than I can throw him.
2. Define Terrorists. As others have said, Iran is probably arming the Badr/Sciri side. Sunni Al-Qaeda, I doubt it. From what I've read, Al-Qaeda doesn't really like the rejectionists/takfiris/shia.

Posted by: matt on January 23, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't our chattering classes call lying lying?

Posted by: klyde on January 23, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabia probably provides more support to the Iraqi patriots than Iran does. I say probably since I have no proof one way or the other, but the Iraqi Sunnis are a huge part of the patriotic resistance to US terror in Iraq, and their support is not coming from Iran.

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

And I quote:

"Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. You fool me, can't get fooled again."

Posted by: Kimmer on January 23, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, a friend of mine who served in Mosul said his base got hit by a dud mortar with some farsi written on it. Not that one mortar means anything, but it leads to a good question: what if Iranian contributions are, you know, shit that blows up? Might that be hard to trace? Asking earnestly here.

Posted by: Dan-o on January 23, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

looks like there's a moby in our midst.

Posted by: cleek on January 23, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

If we left both Iraq and Afghanistan, pulled all our troops out, Iran, I think, would not be able to resist the temptation to meddle in, or invade both.

Why would we want to stop that? Wouldn't we be better off with those monkeys on Iran's back?

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 23, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

OT: Rasmussen Senator John McCain (R), one of the most vocal advocates of sending more troops to Iraq, has lost ground in the Election 2008 sweepstakes. He now trails both John Edwards (D) and Barack Obama (D) in general election match-ups. Prior to this survey, McCain had been ahead of every Democratic challenger in every Rasmussen Reports poll (see summary of general election match-ups).

Obama leads McCain 47% to 44%. Edwards also holds a three-point lead, 46% to 43%. A month ago, McCain held a two-point edge over Obama and a five point lead over Edwards.

McCain’s support has declined among unaffiliated voters. Obama now leads McCain by an 11-point margin among this important segment of the electorate. Edwards and McCain are essentially even among unaffiliated voters.

Hee, hee, hee.

Posted by: Barry Goldwater on January 23, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say George Bush has fulfilled nearly every single one of my expectations for him.

When he finally leaves office the fresh air will seem hollow and empty.

Posted by: cld on January 23, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

The President of the US will castigate a foreign country for meddling in Iraq? Hmm, where's my irony meter, it must be around here somewhere...

Posted by: puffin on January 23, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: It's time for everyone to settle down.

Not everyone. Those of us who distrust the alleged intelligence based on what happened before we invaded Iraq should speak up loud and often. Make them prove it's not coming from Curveball this time.

Posted by: anandine on January 23, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

OT: CBS Mr. Bush’s overall approval rating has fallen to just 28 percent, a new low, while more than twice as many (64 percent) disapprove of the way he's handling his job.

It's good to have company!

Hee, hee, hee.

Posted by: Jimmy Carter on January 23, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Come on down, it's lonely at the bottom!

Posted by: Richard Nixon on January 23, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Will the Democrats declare Bush does not have the Constitutional authority to attack Iran without a declaration of war from Congress? Or will they simply do nothing, which is the politically safe thing?

After all, this was the same Party whose leaders, from Hillary to Kerry to Edwards to Biden, cheerleaded Bush's unnecessary War in Iraq, only to turn against the War when it became politically convenient.

The Democrats should exercise their Constitutional authority to keep the U.S. from getting into war with Iran until we have a new President who is willing to negotiate first and wage war only if Iran refuses to listen to reason.

But will they? Their track record makes it unlikely. The difference between today's Democrats and Republicans was actually clearly illustrated by the 2004 Presidential candidates. In that election, Americans had choices between leadership that made bad decisions (Bush) and leadership that made no decisions at all (Kerry).

If the Democrats live up to their duty and demand that the Iraq War would be the last undeclared war, then they will win respect from the American people. If the Democrats fail to do their duty, then they won't have the right to whine and wail about how Bush "mis-led" them into another war.

Posted by: brian on January 23, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I heard that Iran was trying to impregnate Hillary Duff, break up McDreamy and Meredith, and is shipping ice cubes to Eskimos and that Alberto Gonzales has them dead to rights with secret evidence from a gitmoized American-Muslim who is beyond the reach of the habeas corpus protections of the U.S. Constitution and that he can only reveal the secret evidence to Head Master Dumbledore.

Posted by: Frequently Kenneth on January 23, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

The smoking gun on climate change,

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070123/ap_on_re_us/warming_climate_report

Posted by: cld on January 23, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

See The Century Foundation website - a much better source for real information than PowerLine - for reports of US commando activity in Iran, and all amnner of meddling going on below the CNN line.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 23, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Your penultimate para sans the first sentence applies generally to our friends the Saudis as well.

Seems to me that we are quite confused about who our enemeies should be.

Posted by: gregor on January 23, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

gregor: Seems to me that we are quite confused about who our enemeies should be.

Not at all.

The greatest of them resides in the White House and most of the rest work for the man who lives there.

Posted by: Howard Dean on January 23, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

See The Weekly World News website - a much better source for real information than PowerLine

Fixed it for you. :)

Posted by: Gregory on January 23, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

'amnner of meddling' is some kind of leftist lingo.

Posted by: cld on January 23, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

If we left both Iraq and Afghanistan, pulled all our troops out, Iran, I think, would not be able to resist the temptation to meddle in, or invade both.

Meddling, probably. Invading, carpet bombing and establishing puppet governments, probably not. Iraq and Afghanistan are neighbors to Iran, afterall.

Fear of Iran is a propaganda theme that has been repeated over and over by the mainstream media for twenty-five years. Fear of Iran is a proof of Americans' stupidity and the effectiveness of modern propaganda techniques.

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Okay - laughing at the snark and promising once more to keep my word to use preview...

It is, after all, my fred.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 23, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

one example...

http://abcnews.go.com/International/IraqCoverage/story?id=1692347&page=1


During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol.

One would presume that Iran would like to keep its profile low in arming the Iraqis. This can be done by providing weapons that are not made in Iran.

Likewise, The Saudis could provide Iranian weapons to make it look like the Iranians are involved. With the world arms market, kinda had to tell who the immediate provider was.

Posted by: dennisBoz on January 23, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

And the U.S. of A. is not involved and is perfectly innocent ? ?

I think not.

Posted by: Chief on January 23, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

The administration appears to be lying yet again about Iranian involvement in Iraq:

U.S. officials have declined to provide documentation of seized Iranian ordnance despite repeated requests.

That's really strange, given that:

The U.S. military often releases photographs of other weapons finds.

Making a case against Iran is desperately important for this administration yet the evidence of wrongdoing appears to be as elusive as those non-existent WMD's in Iraq.

British government officials, including Prime Minister Tony Blair, have also accused Iran of supplying advanced explosive devices to Iraq.

But:

British officers stationed in Iraq at the time said they had seized no such weapons in the districts for which they had responsibility.

U.S. military officials in Diyala have had the same experience. No munitions or personnel have been seized at the border, officers said.

Sutherland, the U.S. colonel who oversees Diyala, believes that Tehran is prepared to work with any group, Shiite or Sunni, that can tie up U.S. forces. But State Department and intelligence officials have privately expressed doubts that Iranians are helping Sunnis.

Sunni insurgents in Diyala don't appear to need outside suppliers. They exploit massive weapons stashes containing material dating back to the Iran-Iraq war, when Hussein had a major military base in the area.

Posted by: Windhorse on January 23, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

ahab....i fixed it for you...


duncan hines is Iraq's largest current supplier of yellowcake.

Posted by: mr. irony on January 23, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Make Bush eat yellow cake!

Posted by: Brojo on January 23, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to quote Butthead to this administration: "Settle down, Beavis."

Posted by: Daniel on January 23, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Make Bush eat yellow cake!

Or at least yellow snow.

Posted by: ckelly on January 23, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

from the LA Times article:

A second high-ranking U.S. intelligence official in Washington acknowledged that only a "small percentage" of explosions in Iraq could be linked to shaped charges coming from Iran.
...
"But in terms of American casualties, they are significant," he said, because they are much more lethal than standard roadside bombs.
...
A senior U.S. military intelligence official said coalition forces in Iraq had also found shaped charges "in the presence of Iranians captured in the country." He declined to elaborate but noted that U.S. operatives who raided an Iranian office in the Iraqi city of Irbil this month captured documents and computer drives he called a "treasure trove" on Iran's "networks, supply lines, sourcing and funding."

Posted by: calibantwo on January 23, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing worse than getting involved in a war for false reasons (and who could imagine a thing like that) would be losing that war.

You'd think that would be an off-putting prospect even to the bedwetting chickenhawks out there. But for some reason they are already comfortable with that same scenario as it is unfolding now.

Posted by: Kenji on January 23, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK
The only thing worse than getting involved in a war for false reasons (and who could imagine a thing like that) would be losing that war.

You'd think that would be an off-putting prospect even to the bedwetting chickenhawks out there.

But, see, they don't lose wars, they start new ones halfway through the preceding one, and forget the old one even existed.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, making us forget the Very Bad Idea with the Even Worse Idea. Brilliant!

Posted by: Kenji on January 23, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe someone already asked or maybe I'm just not aware of one but: What Hezbollah suicide attacks?

They are a well armed/trained militia that grew out of the Israeli accupation of Lebanon. They made life hell for the IDF and they also particpate in government and provide social services.

Posted by: Dirk on January 24, 2007 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

But that doesn't mean we ought to be at war with them, and we certainly shouldn't be at war over wildly exaggerated claims from an administration that's demonstrated conclusively that it can't be trusted with such claims. It's time for everyone to settle down.

Alright.

Posted by: Jimm on January 24, 2007 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

"See The Century Foundation website - a much better source for real information than PowerLine -"

kinda funny; Powerline is funded by Twin Cities Federal, or TCF for short.

The Century Foundation url is tcf.org

hmmm. coincidence or conspiracy?


Posted by: Joey on January 24, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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