Friday, January 26, 2007
Don't gimme no lies and keep your hands to yourself:
Eli Lake has a story I wish appeared under my byline, about how the intelligence community, though divided, assesses Iran's penetration of the Iraqi Shiites as thorough and near-complete. How deep? To give just one example, in 2004, for the low-low price of $140,000 up front, Iran recruited 70,000 conscripts for one Shiite militia alone. (Badr? Probably.) According to a paper written by a Fort Leavenworth-based Army Reserve sergeant, all of the Shiite and Kurdish allies America relies on in Iraq are also Iranian allies. Indeed, Iran started reaching out to Shiite proxies like SCIRI as early as November 2001 to prepare for what Teheran accurately forecast as an inevitable U.S. invasion. Unlike us, Iran had a Phase IV in place for what came next.

In short, a reasonable conclusion is that Iran views Iraq much like Pakistan viewed Afghanistan in the 1990s: as an opportunity for strategic depth -- that is, an area of comfort on its border, allowing it to focus on larger threats. The parallel isn't exact, of course, because the larger threat that Iran is facing is from the United States, and it exists primarily in Iraq. Dafna Linzer has more today on Bush's order to attack Iranian assets inside Iraq, as it's not just Task Force 16. In a statement proving irony is truly for suckers, CIA Director Michael Hayden observed "Iran seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism." In order to combat that, the Bush administration is planning "aggressive moves" to disrupt Iranian actions throughout the Middle East, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Palestine.

So let's review administration strategy here. In Iraq, the plan is to escalate the war in order to buy time for Iraqi politics... which is thoroughly dominated, according to U.S. intelligence, by Iran. The best case scenario for us in Iraq is handing Iraq to Iran even more than we already have. At the same time, U.S. military and intelligence assets will go around the country seeking to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard Forces. (Pop quiz: how many soldiers or intelligence operatives do we have in Iraq who can tell the difference between Arabic and Farsi if they heard it?) Also, we plan to take unspecified "aggressive moves" to roll back Iranian influence around Iran, and, for good measure, confront Iran over its nuclear program on the world stage. And apparently, we think Iran will do nothing, roll over, and decide that conducting foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism has all been folly, according to Linzer:

Senior administration officials said the policy is based on the theory that Tehran will back down from its nuclear ambitions if the United States hits it hard in Iraq and elsewhere, creating a sense of vulnerability among Iranian leaders.

More likely, Archduke Ferdinand is en route to Sarajevo.
--Spencer Ackerman
I must protest, the original lyrics don't mention lies. It's "Don't hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself".
Blogger the Ascetic Sensualist | 8:02 AM

man, you literalists... I'm trying to do this without selling out and Googling lyrics. Should I back off that?
Blogger spencerackerman | 8:11 AM

Give in to the Google, Spencer. A noted, umm, err, pundit (?) with whom you are professionally well acquainted is being lightly roasted at the place you are currently professionally acquainted because he seems to have forgotted about the things that got stuck in the tubes even after you scrub them.

Besides, googling lyrics is a neat way to find out that some songs you thought were originals are actually covers.
Blogger jfaberuiuc | 8:15 AM

Thanks for bringing up IRAN. The Bush administration has done little to acknowledge Iran in relation to the U.S. war efforts in Iraq. Your right, Iran no longer has to focus on its borders and can also help aid insurgent groups fighting against the U.S. Yup, the U.S. could either put pressure on Iran or create a scenario where Iran has to have a symbiotic relationship with the U.S.--"a silent ally." I have no clue what that would be.....
Blogger pallaknossos | 8:36 AM

-Pop quiz: how many soldiers or intelligence operatives do we have in Iraq who can tell the difference between Arabic and Farsi if they heard it?

In 2004, there were roughly 2,000 Army soldiers with Arabic experience. That's in the entire standing army. At any one time, you can have at most 1/3 of them in Iraq. Today that number's maybe twice as high. So, let's say, 1300 soldiers, or one per 100 US soldiers.
Blogger ni-q | 8:53 AM

Is everyone else excited about Iran 2008? We know we are.
Blogger Ultima Ratio | 9:53 AM

The best case scenario for us in Iraq is handing Iraq to Iran even more than we already have.

F'ing great, spackerman. You've outlined precisely why we have no choice (in neocon logic) but to nuke Iran. Well done.
Blogger Matt Davis | 11:30 AM

"Senior administration officials said the policy is based on the theory that Tehran will back down from its nuclear ambitions if the United States hits it hard in Iraq and elsewhere, creating a sense of vulnerability among Iranian leaders."

There it is, Likudism in the pure, hard form. Beat them, let them know who's boss, make it clear you're not going away - and they'll behave like the dogs they are.

And, I mean, it's a proven formula. It's worked, time and again.
Blogger Dualarity | 1:02 PM

Why is that Likudism?
Blogger spencerackerman | 1:32 PM

Dear S,

you wrote "Iran started reaching out to Shiite proxies like SCIRI as early as November 2001 to prepare for what Teheran accurately forecast as an inevitable U.S. invasion."

Actually, SCIRI has always been in Iran & tied to the Iranian regime. The Badr Brigades were part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

So, the "reaching out" was more like, the Iranian equivalent of the National Security Adviser calling Al-Hakim and saying "We're still on for my mom's Abgusht after Friday Prayer, right?"

--MSK

www.aqoul.com
Blogger MSK | 2:29 PM

MSK, I didn't mean to imply otherwise -- I've written a lot about this in the past -- only that according to the paper, in November 2001 they were preparing for the invasion of Iraq, which is a pretty stunning piece of information. Obviously SCIRI has been deep with Teheran since the Iran-Iraq war.
Blogger spencerackerman | 2:46 PM

Actually, I dont think it is a wwi situation coming up. Something more like the Russians in Afghanistan. Eventually, U.S. troops attacking Iranians are going to be going in with Iraqi troops as support, and eventually those Iraqi troops will start shooting at the Americans. The idiotic raid in Irbil almost ended that way. Surely the malign Bushian synergy between surging and showing the Iranians who has the balls will push that scenario into the streets of Baghdad.

At that point, the occupation models revert to Napoleon in Spain, and Hitler in Romania (Hungary, etc). Americans will have to depose the government and put a more compliant group in place. As always, since the U.S. plan going in is based on mutually exclusive premises, we will be able to see the lesson in logic played out as a bloodbath on the street.
Blogger roger | 3:13 PM

Eli Lake is an interesting reporter. Checking around, one finds him not only in the NY Sun but Fox News. When he expresses opinions, they're not always sympathetic.

But he seems to have good contacts in some intelligence circles. I just re-read the NPR interview that followed his "Need to Know" article in the 9/23/02 (note the year) New Republic, which says a lot of things people should have listened to, although it also relays the "aluminum tubes" story. I have not checked to see if Mr. Lake revised that part as we learned more about the tubes.

Spencer says he wishes this story had appeared under his own byline, which is high praise. I'm still not sure what to make of Mr. Lake, but I'm glad we have this story.

Dan Tompkins
Blogger Dan Tompkins | 5:40 AM