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Tilting at Windmills

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November 16, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

IRAN AND THE IEDs....Apparently Iran is living up to its promise to try to halt the flow of IEDs and other explosives across the border into Iraq:

"We have not seen any recent evidence that weapons continue to come across the border into Iraq," Maj. Gen. James Simmons said. "We believe that the initiatives and the commitments that the Iranians have made appear to be holding up."

....The U.S. military last week released nine Iranians detained in Iraq, including two men the Americans had accused of belonging to the elite Quds Force, a branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. In a show of optimism, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he hoped the move would pave the way this month for a fourth meeting of U.S. and Iranian officials regarding Iraqi security.

Obviously this doesn't mean the Iranian leadership has suddenly turned into a lovable clutch of care bears, but it is, as they say in the biz, a signal. Whether it's happening in deference to Iran's allies in Iraq or as a way of indicating that Iran wants to ratchet down tensions with the U.S. is hard to say, but who cares? It's a small opening, and hopefully Ryan Crocker and Condi Rice can keep Dick Cheney's crew holed up in their secret bunkers long enough to give it a chance to play it out. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 11:52 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Comments

They are probably trying to present that if something starts between the US and Iran it is clear that the US started it.

Posted by: MNPundit on November 16, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

if there ever *was* any truth to the claim that this stuff was coming from iran, then it's worth asking why it would be tapering off now.

answer: because iran's main objective, i.e. ensuring shiite dominance, is going swimmingly. ethnic cleansing is occurring all over the country, and u.s. forces are assisting it.

why should the iranians send their shiite cousins arms, when the u.s. is dumping arms on the shiites already?

Posted by: kid bitzer on November 16, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Whether it's happening in deference to Iran's allies in Iraq or as a way of indicating that Iran wants to ratchet down tension with the U.S. is hard to say, but who cares?

Great news indeed. I think the most likely reason is that Iran has seen the success of the Surge. Because of the Surge's success, they're running for cover by ending the weapons they're giving the terrorists on the other side of the border. Also the New York Times recently reported the Surge has resulted in routing Al-Qaeda from Baghdad. With its ally in Bagdhad defeated, this probably also caused Iran to re-think its terrorist war against America and Iraq resulting in Iran's retreat to an ignominious defeat.

www.nytimes.com/2007/11/08/world/middleeast/08iraq.html

"American forces have routed Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the Iraqi militant network, from every neighborhood of Baghdad, a top American general said today, allowing American troops involved in the "surge" to depart as planned."

Posted by: Al on November 16, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

China stymies Iran sanctions
China has pulled out of crucial London talks to discuss further sanctions against Iran, raising the prospect of the US, Britain and France going it alone to stop the Islamic Republic's uranium enrichment programme.
In what is seen as an indication that China will not risk its economic interests in Iran by supporting extra UN sanctions, it was confirmed that it had called off its attendance at a meeting of officials from the "P5+1" group, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, which was scheduled for next Monday.
...
However, a Foreign Office official told Times Online today that, unless a "miracle" happened over the weekend, the meeting was now unlikely to take place....

Posted by: Mike on November 16, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

This is just the eye of the storm. The Iranians have switched to a new strategy, something utterly heinous and devious. Instead of IEDs, the Iranians will be shipping toys manufactured with obscene amounts of lead and other noxious toxins to poison Iraqi children. The Iranians are evil; we should never forget that.

Word has it Ahmadinejad was in New York to sell crack cocaine to little kids; crack cocaine that was cooked up by Osama and his terrrrrrrrist buddies in the caves of Afghanistan. These people are evil incarnate. The only thing to stop this evil and bring everlasting peace to the Mideast is to bomb the F-ing sh!t out of them. Once we do that, freedom will spread like wildflowers across the desert. We could the bombing campaign Operation Freedom Flowers.

Posted by: CKT on November 16, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Stop calling them IED!
The first letter is for Improvised - as in patched together from odd parts.
If an organized group is manufacturing them en-mass, they are no longer Improvised.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on November 16, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK
Obviously this doesn't mean the Iranian leadership has suddenly turned into a lovable clutch of care bears, but it is, as they say in the biz, a signal.

Exactly when did it become accepted that the flow of IED's from Iran to Iraq was anything more than administration propaganda?

I mean, isn't one simple explanation here that, in order to demonstrate the success of policy in Iraq, the administration has simply decided to claim that the flow of IED's that it invented has been halted?

Posted by: cmdicely on November 16, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

hopefully Ryan Crocker and Condi Rice can keep Dick Cheney's crew holed up in their secret bunkers long enough to give it a chance to play it out.

You don't really think there's much chance of that happening, do you? Dick will just keep whispering "Nukes" in the Decider's ear and that will beat anything Condi would bring to the table.

Posted by: tomeck on November 16, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, they show veakness; ve now must bomb!

Posted by: John on November 16, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

What are the odds that the Kyle-Lieberman vote will be credited for this? (I am thinking of team Clinton spinning her disasterous vote).

Posted by: RollaMO on November 16, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Exactly when did it become accepted that the flow of IED's from Iran to Iraq was anything more than administration propaganda?"

Precisely. As Al helpfully points out, the new memo is "the Surge is working - the troops are coming home - Iraq won't be an issue in 2008."

Plan A - the Big New Iran War - is going over about as well as New Coke, esp on the international market (see China, UK, Russia).

So Plan B - We Won Iraq (again)! Now go vote GOP! is in effect.

It is fairly interesting how quickly Krauthammer-approved administration chaff (Syrian nukes, we need to destroy FISA now) gets absorbed into even Kevin Drum's bloodsteream.

Posted by: HeavyJ on November 16, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Did I miss something? Like any undisputed, concrete evidence the Iranians actually WERE shipping IEDs and EFPs across the border for use against US troops? This seems like the worst sophistry imaginable: accuse a foe, without evidence, of nefarious acts, and then when it suits the situation, praise the foe's "improved behavior" when it appears no nefarious acts are being performed. This is the Rumsfeldian "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" updated for a new war, and it stinks just the same.

Posted by: logician on November 16, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

In other news, the Polish attacks on Nazi Germany have ceased.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on November 16, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Ryan Crocker and Condi Rice can keep Dick Cheney's crew holed up in their secret bunkers long enough to give it a chance to play it out

Um, no.

As soon as they read it, I'm sure the reaction was more like: "Dammit to hell!! Who approved this crap?!? Get everyone together STAT, time to do damage control!"

Remember its all about controlling the message. Someone didn't get the memo.

Posted by: Simp on November 16, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with logician.

They never showed that EFP's were coming over in
the first place. Are the Iraqis really so incompetent they could not make their own EFP's? I thought
there were reports of just such 'factories' found
in Iraq.

Now that the USE of IEDs and EFPs has declined,
I credit:
1)AQI has been stomped on.
and 2)The Mehdi Army has been told to stand down.

Is it also - Fewer US army patrols in Mehdi Army Territory?

Posted by: catclub on November 16, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly when did it become accepted that the flow of IED's from Iran to Iraq was anything more than administration propaganda?

I believe Goebbels and Lenin had something to say on the subject. And Ford knows "ex-liberal" and his ilk have been working hard at it...

Posted by: Gregory on November 16, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

The claim that Iran was stopping sending EFP's was made by Iraq and immediately denied by Iran since they've maintained they weren't sending the things in the first place and so couldn't promise to stop sending them.

No EFP or component has ever been seized crossing the Iraq/Iran border or within 6 miles of said, despite over a year of trying. Yet factories for making EFPs keep cropping up in Iraq itself. The most recent was only last week.

The US military now admits the Mahdi Army ceasefire is a major proximate cause of reductions in casualties in Iraq and has changed its story to say that splinter groups, not the Mahdi Army as a whole, are funded and directed from Iran (cf Newsweek).

But they don't seem to be willing to admit, yet, that the major cause of a drop in casualties is also the major cause of a drop in the major causer of casualties - roadside bombs. Huh?

Regards, C

Posted by: Cernig on November 16, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why trust US military reports on IED's ,casualties, etc?

They are all part of TeamBush's war on the middle east

A sage once said:"We'll leave Iraq when the oil runs dry."

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on November 16, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Of course an alternative explanation could be that the devices were made by Iraqis all along and the decrease in attacks by roadside bomb is consistent with decreased attacks generally (see electricity delivery, oil production and gasoline deliveries).

The idea that Iraqis could make WMDs but not IEDs has been just one of the administration's logical failings.(see cmdicely )above

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Iraqis can also read a calendar alongside almost any newspaper that publishes US political polls. The Republicans are going to leave and the Iraqis think that the probability of the troops leaving shortly thereafter has increased. not to 1, unfortunately, but higher than the present administration's zero.

The Kirkuk referendum takes place next month, the aftermath of which could certainly see increased violence as the Maliki government won't take kindly to that region's oil/gas revenues going to Talabani.

Posted by: TJM on November 16, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

There's only one thing to conclude from this: Maj. Gen. James Simmons should be fired immediately!

Posted by: Kenji on November 16, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't seen one mention of the fact in mass media that the U.S. has not presented one bit of evidence that Iran was indeed sending these quite easily manufactured devices into Iraq to begin with. Just another mind blowing part of the disinformation campaign that the media was so complicit in to begin this disastorous invasion. Thank god for the internet but what about the people who get their "news" from corporate media?

Posted by: boba on November 16, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surging! I'm surging! Praise Jeebus! But we must stay in Iraq forever and build at least 500 bases there. Just to make sure the Iraqis don't do something stupid like think they're a sovereign country.

Posted by: Not Al on November 16, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

keeping track of stuff is hard! even Donald "Unknown-Unknowns" Rumsfeld had difficulty keeping track of who bought his company's nuclear reactors..

Posted by: Circe on November 16, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I forget you suggested this but it's a great idea anyway. Have issue type debates with real experts as the questioners. For example, have one on the macroeconomy, the budget, and trade policy with three folks asking the questions - from the left Paul Krugman, from the right Greg Mankiw, and the suggestion was that Brad DeLong should be the third. OK, that's two from slightly left of center. But then it'd be more fair and balanced that the typical Meet the Press panel run by Russert. And a lot smarter on Social Security!

Posted by: pgl on November 16, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, my comment was SUPPOSED to be on the debate issue and not this Iran issue.

Posted by: pgl on November 16, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Not only was there no evidence Iran was shipping IEDs and EPPs across the border, but there was plenty of evidence they were being made in Iraq.

It's possible that people in Iran were sending them into Iraq, but there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever the Iranian government was supporting, funding, or supplying those people. Plus, as I said, the evidence leans heavily towards the fact that they were being made in Iraq.

It is mind-blowing that it is not accepted knowledge Iran was doing this. Just amazing. Beyond amazing.

Posted by: Joshua on November 16, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

When Cheney has the floor, the disinformation leans toward Iranian IED's. When Rice has the floor, the disinformation is reversed. Bush is moody and petulant on which disinformation to use on any given day.

Posted by: Luther on November 16, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Glad to see everyone already called BS on the IED propaganda. That won't stop all media outlets from asserting it like it's true, along with the 500 other lies.

This is normal for Mr. Drum when the issue it foreign policy/war. Middle of the road.

Posted by: luci on November 16, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Why does everyone act so surprised whenever Iran cuts a behind-the-scenes deal with the U.S.? Have we forgotten the past 27 years of history?

This is standard operating procedure for the Iranian regime. In spite of all the ranting about Great Satan, when they want to accomplish something they don't hesitate to do business with America (or Israel), and we don't hesistate to do business with them.

It happened all through the 1980s and 1990s, going all the way back to Reagan. Khamenei and Rafsanjani were running the country in the mid-1980s when Khomeini was still alive, and they're still running it now, in spite of Ahmadinejad's bluster. Why should we assume things are any different?

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