The truth about the Iranian threat is that the Bush Administration is not telling the real truth. Like any effective propagandist President Bush is using a kernel of truth and, with the help of many in the media, laying the foundation for another war. Only this time it will likely be a war of retaliation rather than one of pre-emption.
The kernel of truth is that Iranian intelligence agents are active in Iraq and are working with a variety of Shia militia and groups. What Bush cleverly omits in his litany is the fact that Iran has been present in Iraq since the early days of the U.S. invasion in March of 2003. Bush and his generals also are ignoring the fact that Sunni insurgents, not Iranian backed Shia militia, have been those responsible for the vast majority of U.S. casualties in Iraq.
You do not have to accept my word or my numbers. Go to icasualties.org (and while you are there leave a donation for these deserving folks) and count for yourselves. According to the U.S. officials who briefed reporters in Baghdad last Sunday, Iranian explosives figured in the deaths of 170 U.S. soldiers and the wounding of 620 since June of 2004. However, total coalition casualties during that same period are 2,265 dead and 17,788 wounded. For the math challenged among you that means Iran is linked to less than 8% of the fatalities and less than 4% of the wounded.
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The conclusion is very simple. Iran is not responsible for most U.S. casualties, whether from explosives, small arms fire, or thrown rocks. Now it gets interesting.
Who is our main enemy and who is responsible for the vast majority of U.S. casualties? Sunni insurgent groups — ranging from Al Qaeda jihadist to angry Baathists.
Iran for its part has shied away from encouraging or supporting widespread attacks against U.S. forces because the United States is perceived as helping the Shia consolidate power in Iraq and acknowledged for concentrating its firepower on the Sunnis. Remember Fallujah? Tall Afar? How about Al Anbar? What about Zarqawi?
With Zarqawi dead and buried the Bush Administration has christened Moqtada al Sadr as its latest villain. But this is another lie. Moqtada al Sadr is the least Iran friendly of the various Shia clerics. Moqtada is no friend of the United States but he is first and foremost an Iraqi nationalist. He is not an Iranian toady. That distinction goes to Mr. Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim. Remember him? He's the guy who was sitting with George Bush for a photo op in the Oval Office in December.
So let me see if I have this straight. The Iraqi Shia cleric closest to the Iranians, who are responsible for killing some of our soldiers, gets an invite to the White House for a grip and grin. Meanwhile the Iraqi Shia cleric least favorably disposed to Iran becomes our new public enemy and now has sought refuge in Iran. Great! Rather than drive a big wedge between Iran and al Sadr we give him a reason to reach out to Tehran.
In the coming weeks the friction points with Iran are likely to increase. If U.S. forces escalate operations against Iranian interests and Iranian personnel they will retaliate. They may not accept the Old Testament as their basis of faith but they certainly believe in an "eye for an eye". The Iranians take blood feuds seriously and will retaliate against us. Even events not directly tied to us will be viewed by Tehran thru the lens of the looming U.S. threat and we are likely to be blamed. Today, for example, a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guard were killed in a terrorist bombing near the border of Afghanistan. The Iranians, using Bush-style analysis, will probably conclude that this was a U.S. backed action. I anticipate they will become more bold in their retaliation.
As the U.S. versus Iran tit-for-tat intensifies new U.S. casualties will fuel the war fever among the American people and support for "decisive" action against Iran will grow. Most members of Congress, fearful of being labled as going soft on the Iranian mullahs, more likely than not will fall into line and will back President Bush as he starts a new crusade against the Iranian regime. Unfortunately for America these events will probably produce a deeper, more deadly quagmire that will compound the horror already underway in Iraq. Instead of battling primarily Sunni insurgents we will get to add Shia and Iranians to the mix. And how does that serve our national interest?
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