If you were President George W. Bush with all available US troops tied down by the Iraqi resistance, and you were unable to control Iraq or political developments in the country, would you also start a war with Iran?
Yes, you would.
Bush's determination to spread Middle East conflict by striking at Iran does not make sense.
First of all, Bush lacks the troops to do the job. If the US military cannot successfully occupy Iraq, there is no way that the US can occupy Iran, a country approximately three times the size in area and population.
Second, Iran can respond to a conventional air attack with missiles targeted on American ships and bases, and on oil facilities located throughout the Middle East.
Third, Iran has human assets, including the Shia majority population in Iraq, that it can activate to cause chaos throughout the Middle East.
Fourth, polls of US troops in Iraq indicate that a vast majority do not believe in their mission and wish to be withdrawn. Unlike the yellow ribbon folks at home, the troops are unlikely to be enthusiastic about being trapped in an Iranian quagmire in addition to the Iraqi quagmire.
Fifth, Bush's polls are down to 34 percent, with a majority of Americans believing that Bush's invasion of Iraq was a mistake.
If you were being whipped in one fight, would you start a second fight with a bigger and stronger person?
That's what Bush is doing.
Opinion polls indicate that the Bush regime has succeeded in its plan to make Americans fear Iran as the greatest threat America faces.
The Bush regime has created a major dispute with Iran over that country's nuclear energy program and then blocked every effort to bring the dispute to a peaceful end.
In order to gain a pretext for attacking Iran, the Bush regime is using bribery and coercion in its effort to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions.
In recent statements President Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld blamed Iran for the Iraqi resistance, claiming that the roadside bombs used by the resistance are being supplied by Iran.
It is obvious that Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about.
Yet, Bush has no conventional means of waging war with Iran. His bloodthirsty neoconservatives have prepared plans for nuking Iran. However, an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran would leave the US, already regarded as a pariah nation, totally isolated.
Readers, whose thinking runs ahead of that of most of us, tell me that another 9/11 event will prepare the ground for a nuclear attack on Iran. Some readers say that Bush, or Israel as in Israel's highly provocative attack on the Jericho jail and kidnapping of prisoners with American complicity, will provoke a second attack on the US. Others say that Bush or the neoconservatives working with some "black ops" group will orchestrate the attack.
One of the more extraordinary suggestions is that a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a US port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush's illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the US media will not report the rest of the world's doubts of the explanation.
Reads like a Michael Crichton plot, doesn't it?
Fantasy? Let's hope so.
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Paul Craig Roberts [email him] is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.