Killing Time: Countdown Quickens for Bush War on Iran

(UPDATED below)

Here we go…

U.S. Ties Iranians to Iraq Attack That Killed G.I.’s (NY Times)

The countdown to war with Iran has entered its final stages now. Citing testimony elicited – by one means or another – from two Iraqi Shiite captives and a Lebanese man who has been held in one of Bush's secret prisons, U.S. military officials are now formally charging that Iranian government officials directly planned operations that killed American soldiers in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner said the evidence obtained from the captives proves that Iran's Qud Force – one of those deep cover, gloves-off, Special Ops kind of units so beloved of the Bushists and their bootlickers – are arming and training Shiite militia groups to attack American and Iraqi government forces. That would be the same Iraqi government that is controlled by, er, Iranian-armed and –trained militia groups who are also being armed and trained by the Bush Administration. This would also be the same Iraqi government whose leaders – installed via the American occupation and backed, with blood and treasure, by the Bush Administration – are frequently to be found in Tehran, praising the close and cooperative relationship they have with Iran. Why, just days before General Bergner leveled his charges, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was in Tehran, expressing his abiding appreciation of "the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution about Iraqi reconstruction and contribution of Iranian government to Iraqi nation's progress and welfare." (Alalam News, via Juan Cole)

So according to General Bergner, the Iranians are arming Shiite groups to overthrow the government made up of Shiite groups they previously armed, in order to…uh…install a government made up Shiite groups armed by Iran. Well, who knows? Maybe it's true. Maybe the Iranians are as stupid as the Bushists, who have been arming various violent, extremist factions in Iraq for years now, in what a cynical observer might be forgiven for thinking was a deliberate policy of setting Iraqis at each other's throats, the better to destroy the country and reduce it to a more easily dominated ruin (or grab-bag of rump states). But if so, it would be the first known instance of the Iranian regime arming groups to attack its own allies.

Of course, Iran probably is playing many deep and deadly games in next-door Iraq. In this, they would only be following the example of the Anglo-American defenders of civilization, whose deep and deadly games in far-away Iraq have thus far killed upwards of a million innocent people and driven some four million more from their homes. But the idea that the Iranians are knee-capping their own proteges, to whom Bush has gifted the government of Iraq on a bloodstained silver platter, is patenly ludicrous.

But the actual substance of General Bergner's charges – involving an attack that occurred back in January -- matter little. Their importance lies in the way they advance the long, elaborate campaign to manipulate America into war with Iran. Little by little, Bush minions have been racheting up the charges of direct Iranian involvement in killing American soldiers in Iraq. It has mostly been a process of two steps forward, one step back. It usually works like this. A Pentagon man in Baghdad will announce findings of Iranian involvement in smuggling arms to Iraq, training militias, planning operations, providing intelligence, etc. Headlines will flare for a couple of days; then an Administration spokesman, often Pentagon honcho Bob Gates, will dial back a bit on the certainty of the original charges. A few weeks later, the cycle will be repeated, with the charges more detailed this time, coming closer to "proving" direct involvement of the Iranian government. Again, lurid headlines, followed by a slight demural (usually buried in the inside pages). But each time, the line is moved a little closer toward a flagrant casus belli that will be able to inflame even a jaded, war-weary public.

We will probably see the same pattern this time around as well. Despite the bristling brass on his shoulders, Bergner is still fairly small fry. The certainty of his assertions can be moved back a peg or two without any bigwigs losing face. But meanwhile, we have these glaring headlines in the New York Times, bellwether of the corporate media, and a front-page report by the ever-reliable Michael Gordon – former writing partner of Judy "Curveball" Miller – uncritically relaying confessions extracted by "enhanced interrogation" into the public mind.

The next set of charges will move ever closer to the heart of Iran's government, and will probably deal with an even worse attack than the January incident cited by Bergner, in which five U.S. soldiers were killed. (Perhaps one of the many sectarian Iraqi militias now swimming in American guns and money will be helpful enough to supply such an incident – after which a bit of "enhanced interrogation" can steer the story in the direction desired by the White House.) Inexorably, remorselessly, the Bush Administration is moving toward its desired war with Iran, abetted, as before, by compliant corporate reporters, and by the entire Washington political establishment – especially the Democrats, who not only have been even more bloodthirsty than the White House in their public rhetoric toward Iran, but have also done yeoman service in escalating war fever with their overwhelming support for a measure urging the UN to file genocide charges against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, based largely on a garbled translation of a single passage from a single speech.

So this is where we are now. The Democratic-led House has now officially declared that Iran is led by a genocidist like Hitler, the embodiment of human evil. The Pentagon is repeatedly charging that Hitler is now killing Americans in Iraq. The American Establishment has committed itself to this scenario. Only the American people are lagging somewhat behind – but when push finally comes to shove, how many will oppose "defending our troops" against the aggression of the Persian "Hitler"?

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has more on "stenographer" Gordon and the context of the story ..