The Three “I”s

I didn’t get to watch President Bush give his latest speech last night, though I did get to hear it today. No surprises from what I heard. His repudiation of the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations was a big “Screw You” to pretty much everyone who’s been counselling a more diplomatic approach to the problem: his father & his cronies, the military leadership in Iraq, Democrats, and a growing segment of his own party. How liberating it must be to be in such a powerful job and not have to worry about appeasing anyone anymore… it must be the bright side of lame duck-ness.

My wife likes to tell me I prattle on too much, so I’ll try to keep my comments as brief as possible. Plenty of ink has been spilled by better pundits than I.

Adding 20,000+ troops to Iraq won’t do a whole lot in my opinon to change the basic math involved. As others have noted, there have been previous efforts, and that was before we decided to tangle with the Shiite militias, which is what Bush seems to be referring to indirectly in his speech. Taking on Al-Sadr and his forces is a much larger order than going after the smaller number of Sunni/Baathist/Al-Qaeda insurgents that were the previous prey. It will make for interesting times. One thing is for sure: we’re not leaving the country any time soon. Remember those bases we’re building?

The Iraq situation is a mess. While I shed no tears at the passing of Saddam Hussein, it appears we have replaced a brutal thug with a whole passel of brutal thugs intent on settling old scores. Hussein’s hanging looked less like a governmental execution than a poorly-planned death squad lynching. It’s main effect was to give the man a quick death and make him appear more dignfied in his last moments than the mob of masked amatuers that were gleefully sending him to his just reward.

Rumors of war against Iran swirl. When news sources as diverse as a right-wing tabloid, an Israeli ‘liberal’ newspaper, a hard-left magazine, and the paper of record in England are all chattering about the same thing, odds are good something’s up. Iran’s nuclear program and meddling in Iraq are being used as the casus belli. Why, after all, would the owner of the third-largest oil reserves in the world start developing nuclear power generation capacity? Perhaps it’s because they don’t have nearly as much oil as everyone thinks they do. The combination of rising standards of living (and it’s accompanying rise in energy usage) and declining oil production means trouble for a country that’s very dependent on oil revenue. Speaking of oil revenue, Saudi Arabia, who is wary of both a Sunni genocide in Iraq and rising Iranian/Shiite power in the region, is apparently taking advantage of the lull in oil prices to reload it’s “oil weapon” in case of a possible showdown with Tehran at some point in the future.

Attacking Iran and the Shiite militias in and around Baghdad is a formula for an expanded war and more Muslim-versus-Muslim bloodshed. Who benefits from this? Not the USA, since the main effects of that would be skyrocketing oil prices and more danger for our forces in the region. The Saudis are worried about Shiite dominance, the Turks are worried about an independent Kurdish state, and Iran is apparently more worried about internal discontent and energy production than they are about UN sanctions.

It’s interesting that Israel is being outed as the possible aggressor in an attack on Iran. Cui Bono?

Iraq; Iran; Israel. These three nations will be the drivers of much of the news affecting all of us this year, for better or for worse.

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