We are in the midst of the second Iranian hostage crisis. This time the Iranians hold 150,000 or so US and UK troops and assorted cohorts hostage in Iraq. They are abetted in this enterprise by the non-reality based US government policy of “stay the course,” which guarantees that the Bush regime won’t even consider their only possible way to avoid a humiliating defeat — “redeployment” to Kurdistan and Kuwait. It calls forth the image of General Pickett urging his men to “stay the course” as they began their assault on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.
The current situation in Iraq is a ballooning disaster for the US military and it’s going to continue to go downhill. They have a matrix-like, self-regenerating dragon by the tail and a delusional commander-in-chief who thinks he’s St. George.
It is likely that the US/UK coalition is no longer the largest military force in Iraq. That honor now probably resides with the al-Sadr’s Shiite militia. So far, the US is just fighting a Sunni minority-based insurgency while exacerbating a three-cornered civil war raging around it, with a few foreign terrorists in training thrown in. Even with that limited agenda, this month is on track to be the bloodiest month since the invasion for both Iraqis and US forces. Attacks on US forces are rising to several hundred a day. Ten US soldiers were killed in five separate incidents yesterday (Tuesday).
When al-Sadr fought the US in Najaf in 2004, he had tens of thousands of followers. Now he has hundreds of thousands. It would be silly not to assume they are increasingly well-armed by the Iranians and, given the overlap between the Iraqi auxiliary to the US army and the Shiite militias, far better trained by the Americans. al-Sadr’s is only the largest of several Shiite militias. So far, except in isolated incidents, the US has not had to fight these increasingly powerful Shiite militias. As a sign of that power, yesterday, the US military was forced to cough up a senior aide to al-Sadr who they had been holding. The recent raids into Baghdad neighborhoods have left Sadr City alone. al-Sadr’s boy is the prime minister of the Green Zone “government”. al-Sadr is on record as saying that were Iran attacked, his forces would unite in common cause with Iran.
If the Shiite militias ever attacked the US forces, the position of those forces in Iraq would become instantly untenable outside heavily fortified bases supplied by air. How do they say Dien Bien Phu in Arabic? They don’t attack now largely because the US remains locked in combat with their traditional enemies, the Sunnis. But that can change.
The most likely potential cause for this de facto non-aggression pact to be broken would be a US or Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. There have been reports of the US moving additional naval battle groups into the area of the Persian Gulf. There have been reports of Israeli politicians exclaiming that Iran poses an “existential threat” to Israel that must be eradicated soon. Add to the intensity of the moment the impending GOP electoral debacle.
Attacking Iran with no cover from the UN seems so insane as to be improbable. No one outside Israel and the Saudi ruling family really likes the idea. The Bush regime knows UN approval is unlikely at any time and they are composed of desperate ideologues whose time is running out, whose version of history isn’t playing out as they planned and who are committed to a policy of military preemption based on already existing Congressional approval of the “war on terror.” With the Democrats in control of at least one house of Congress and armed with subpeona power, presidential approval ratings stagnant in the 30’s and Iraq collapsing on Bush’s head, the Bush regime’s level of desperation will become unsustainable over the next two years. Their dreams of a new Middle East made over in their image became their worst nightmare where their only real choice is whether to leave before they’re forced to do so. Their ideology has trapped them in the embrace of an unwinable cause. We’re entering the golden age of Bush bashing, but wounded animals can be the most dangerous and this beast has nuclear weapons galore at the tip of its claw.
The most crucial goal for humanity at this moment in history is to constrain the Bush regime and its Israeli quislings from the desperate act of attacking Iran. That act would insure war in multiple manifestations, some possibly nuclear, from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean and beyond, with domestic repercussions including terrorist attacks to match. While one might wish for the opportunity to watch the empire in its death throes, the potential for collateral damage is without limit.