Marching to Persia: First Blows Struck in Bush's War on Iran

*Below is the post that I somehow lost yesterday.*

Hard on the heels of Bush's bellicose language against Iran in his "New Way Forward" speech comes news that American forces stormed an Iranian consulate in Iraq in a heavily armed raid – including five helicopters – with threats to kill the Iranian diplomats inside if they did not surrender.

As Glenn Greenwald notes: "Isn't it a definitive act of war for one country to storm the consulate of another, threaten to kill them if they do not surrender, and then detain six consulate officers?" Glenn – who with his usual dispatch has been all over Bush's rush to encompass Iran in the hellfire of his Middle East rampage – knows full well the answer to his rhetorical question: Yes, it is a definitive act of war.

The raid is just one more in a series of recent actions transparently designed to provoke the Iranians into some violent response that can be used as a "justification" for the Bush Regime's long-desired strike on Iran. Part of this push for a new war has to do with the old Bush-Cheney-PNAC plan of geopolitical empire, which requires the installation of a cowed and compliant government in Tehran; and part of it has to do with what appears to be the Bush Regime's self-delusion that the abominable failure of their assault on Iraq is due not to their own venality, stupidity, brutality and ignorance, but because some dastardly outsider is interfering with their operation, which otherwise would be welcomed with open arms by the grateful Iraqis.

The mindset of the Bush-Cheney faction in this regard is precisely that of a deranged rapist who insists that his victim is actually in love with him and would gladly marry him if only her friends would stop talking him down and telling her that he's no good.

There have been many criminal episodes in the history of the United States government; but I am hard-pressed to think of one that has been so egregiously stupid and self-destructive, and so riddled with pathological aberrations.

I think the Iranians – inheritors of three thousand years of statecraft – will not take the bait. Their Bush-like president – a strutting religious extremist who, left to his own devices, might indeed lash out in response to provocation – is neither the commander of the nation's armed forces nor the ultimate authority in government. But as we have seen in Iraq, in the end Bush is perfectly capable of launching an act of military aggression without any substantive pretext whatsoever. The wily forbearance of the Persians could very well go for naught in the face of this mad stampede toward a new and more horrible war.

Below are some extensive excerpts from Greenwald, but do read the entire piece, for there is much more detail there, along with all his links.

(Continued after the jump.)

Glenn Greenwald:
Iraq continues to receive the overwhelming bulk of attention in the media and among political analysts. But the fate of Iraq, tragically, is all but sealed -- the President will send more troops and order them to be increasingly brutal and indiscriminate, and they will stay through at least the end of his presidency. That is just a fact. The far more attention-demanding issue now is what the President's intentions are with regard to Iran.

As Think Progress notes, the White House took multiple steps yesterday to elevate dramatically the threat rhetoric against Iran. Bush included what The New York Times described as “some of his sharpest words of warning to Iran” yet. But those words could really be described more accurately not as “threats” but as a declaration of war.

He accused the Iranian government of “providing material support for attacks on American troops” and vowed to “seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies.” But those networks are located in Iran, which means that search and destroy missions on such networks would necessarily include some incursion into Iranian territory, whether by air or ground.

Hours before the speech, the White House released a PowerPoint presentation with details about the president’s new policy. “Increase operations against Iranian actors” was listed in the “Key Tactical Shifts” section. As The New York Times reported: “One senior administration official said this evening that the omission of the usual wording about seeking a diplomatic solution [to the Iranian nuclear stand-off] ‘was not accidental.’”

But these were merely the latest in a series of plainly significant events over the last several weeks that, taken alone, are each noteworthy themselves, but when viewed as a whole unmistakably signal a deliberate escalation of tensions with Iran by both the U.S. and Israel…

I think there is a tendency to dismiss the possibility of some type of war with Iran because it is so transparently destructive and detached from reality that it seems unfathomable. But if there is one lesson that everyone should have learned over the last six years, it is that there is no action too extreme or detached from reality to be placed off limits to this administration. The President is a True Believer and the moral imperative of his crusade trumps the constraints of reality…And he isn't constrained by the things that constrain rational people because his mission, in his mind, transcends all of those mundane limitations. Is there anyone who still doubts that?

More importantly, a war with Iran can happen in many ways other than by some grand announcement by the President that he wants to start a war, followed by a debate in Congress as to whether such a war should be authorized. That is the least likely way for such a confrontation to occur.

We have 140,000 troops (soon to be 20,000 more) sitting in a country that borders Iran and where Iran is operating, with an announced military build-up in the Persian Gulf imminent, increased war rhetoric from all sides, the beginning of actual skirmishes already, a reduction (if not elimination) on the existing constraints with which our military operates in Iraq, and a declaration by the President that Iran is our enemy in the current war.

That makes unplanned -- or seemingly unplanned -- confrontations highly likely, whether through miscalculation, miscommunication, misperception, or affirmative deceit. Whatever else is true, given the stakes involved -- the unimaginable, impossible-to-overstate stakes -- and the fact that we are unquestionably moving forward on this confrontational path quite deliberately, this issue is receiving nowhere near the attention in our political discussions and media reports that it so urgently demands.

For all the pious talk about the need to be "seriously concerned" and give "thoughtful consideration" to what will happen if we leave Iraq, there is a very compelling -- and neglected -- need to ponder what will happen if we stay and if we escalate. And the need for "serious concern" and "thoughtful consideration" extends to consequences not just in Iraq but beyond.