July 25, 2007

Neocons: Iran Is Source Of All Evil

Both of the following statements can't be true. Here's the first one, the new neocon line on Iran. Emphasis mine:

... Speaking in London this week, Frederick Kagan, a West Point military historian and noted US neoconservative who helped inspire Mr Bush's surge plan, said there was no "smoking gun" proving direct, continuous, high-level collaboration between al-Qaida and other Sunni extremists and Iran's top leaders.

... The evidence was often circumstantial, he said, but included Iranian-manufactured and Iranian-purchased arms caches found in al-Qaida and Sunni-dominated areas, ... "The Iranians and al-Qaida both want the Iraqi state to fail. If Iran wanted a stable Iraq, they would be supporting the Shia government of the [prime minister Nuri] al-Maliki," Dr Kagan said.

... "Iran is supplying everybody who is engaged in violence, every faction, every accelerant of violence, including [the Shia militia] Jaish al-Mahdi and al-Qaida. This is all too well organised to be happening without regime knowledge." ...


Here's the second view. Again, emphasis mine:

... That ["97-0 vote in the Senate last week for a resolution drafted by its leading proponent of war against Iran, Sen. Joe Lieberman"] followed several months of intensive administration propaganda charging that Iran is arming Shiite militias in Iraq, and characterising Iranian financial support and training for Shiite militias as an aggressive effort to target U.S. troops and to destabilise Iraq.

But this administration line ignores the fact that Iran's primary ties in Iraq have always been with those groups who have supported the Nouri al Maliki government, including the SCIRI and Dawa parties and their paramilitary arm, the Badr Corps, rather than with anti-government militias. That indicates that Iran's fundamental interest is to see the government stabilise the situation in the country, according to Prof. Mohsen Milani of Florida International University, a specialist on Iran's national security policies. ...


So, which is it? Do they support al Maliki's government or not? Are we supposed to believe that Iran's allies in Iraq would continue to perceive them as friends if they were systematically and deliberately arming the people who are conducting retaliatory ethnic cleansing against the Shia population of Iraq? And that doesn't begin to unpack the problems with Kagan's "circumstantial" evidence.

For one thing, Iran has a very established, very sophisticated, homegrown munitions industry. Like many other countries with military industrial infrastructure, they export a lot of weaponry, or they certainly did until a 2007 UN ban. They even have brochures, like businesses do.

Wikipedia says of their arms exports that, "As of 2006, Iran had exported weapons to 57 countries, including NATO members, and sold $100 million worth of military equipment."

It occurs to me to wonder, considering that no one has ever claimed that all the weaponry found in Iraq comes from Iran, why the US government doesn't list the origins of all the munitions they find and call out the countries so implicated for their support of Iraq's warring factions. Or consider that Iran supported factions inside Afghanistan all through the years of US neglect of that country. If Taliban members, who are outright enemies of Iran, captured Iranian-made weapons from Dari supported by Iran, would that suddenly transform Iran into a supporter of the Taliban?

Weapons are commodities. The US weapons industry sells them abroad with impunity, as do Britain, Israel, China, Russia, and many, many other countries. Therefore, accusations of support need to be backed up by more than the very circumstantial evidence that weapons were manufactured in a particular country. Especially when that country has sold $100 million worth of weapons abroad, and their borders are notoriously porous.

You need hard evidence, or it's no more sensible a claim than finding insurgents wearing Chinese boots and claiming that their wearers are being supported by China. (I admit, I'm lazy, I don't want to look it up. But I swear to you that I did look it up once, in 2005 I think, and discovered that around 90% of the world's shoe supply comes from China. Granted, Iran doesn't make 90% of the world's arms. But it seems far more likely that Muslim insurgents in the Middle East would be able to get hold of Iranian weapons than, say, Israeli weapons.)

Further, Kagan says that, "This is all too well organised to be happening without regime knowledge." Well, how does he know that? Did all the former Iraqi military personnel forget how to coordinate attacks when they went home and took off their uniforms after the US disbanded Hussein's army? Are the al Qaida operatives in Iraq a less competent breed than their counterparts elsewhere? Is there no possibility that the Sunni militias are receiving Saudi help? Perhaps not in Kagan's universe, but out in the real world:

... About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis. ...


While it could possibly still be the case that all those Saudi suicide bombers are entering Iraq entirely without their government's knowledge, that seems improbable. Even more improbable is the suggestion that they're all going to Iraq in order to take orders from the Iranian Shiite government. I can't be the only person left gaping at the extreme unlikelihood of Iran recruiting Saudis from inside Saudi Arabia to fight for militia factions in Iraq who are targeting their Shia allies right alongside our troops.

That's just crazy talk. It wouldn't make it as a pitch for a new spy thriller. But it's the logical implication of Kagan's assertion that all the fighting in Iraq is being coordinated by Iran.

Starting in May, the US and Iran entered into their "first direct talks in 27 years", on the subject of Iraq. Juan Cole notes that what's emerged from these highly contentious talks is an agreement between Iran and the US to take on the Sunni insurgents. And I'll leave you with his comments on why taking on the Sunni in Iraq is such a big deal:

... If the US is allying with Iran against the Sunni insurgents and al-Qaeda, this is a very major development and much more important than some carping over Shiite militias. (My guess is that 98% of American troops killed in Iraq have been killed by Sunni Arab guerrillas). If the report is true and has legs, it will send Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal ballistic. The Sunni Arab states do not like "al-Qaeda" in Iraq, but they are much more afraid of Iran than of the Iraqi Sunni Arabs who are fighting against US military occupation.


And in spite of knowing how many Saudis are sitting in our own camps or have blown themselves up in suicide bombings, and that the former Baathists who ran Hussein's military have no love for Iran, and that neighboring Sunni states fear the Iranians, the neocons continue to peddle the ridiculous propaganda that the Iranians are coordinating most of the attacks in Iraq on the Shia government and US forces.

If our government really believed this line of bull, they wouldn't be negotiating with the Iranians. They continue to let these lies trickle out and poison the public well because, apparently, it just wasn't drumming up the war fever enough to tell people that the Iranians were (shocking!) supporting their Shia allies who ran the government of a neighboring state and the Badr brigade.

And Sen. Lieberman, of course, their tool as ever. There are times, some, when guilt by association is the only reasonable tack to take. In general, Lieberman has definitely earned the distinction of being someone whose support is a taint unto itself. Picking apart the arguments of the neocons he's in bed with just confirms me in that opinion.

Keep an eye out for these arguments as they continue banging the drums on the sidelines for another stupid land war in Asia.

Posted by natasha at July 25, 2007 08:08 PM | Iran | Technorati links |
Comments

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Posted by: R Hampton at July 25, 2007 08:41 PM

CBS headlines with Gonzo; is there more to Gonzo?

Neocons probably thinking of themselves as public welfare when criticizing Iran

Posted by: ccoaler at July 26, 2007 03:42 AM