We have arrested some Iranians in Iraq, including “senior military officials.” The New York Times, which has often reported on Iran’s involvement in the terror war against us and the Iraqi people, broke the story last night, and obtained some alarmingly candid responses from the usual unnamed American “administration officials” and “senior administration officials.” If you want to understand the failure of the Bush Administration to understand the real war, a couple of quotations tell you everything you need to know.
The United States is now holding, apparently for the first time, Iranians who it suspects of planning attacks. One senior administration official said, “This is going to be a tense but clarifying moment.”
The heart jumps for a moment, wondering if, at long last, this “clarifying moment” will catalyze some sort of American effort to directly challenge the clerical fascist regime in Tehran. But then the heart sinks, as the senior official explains: it’s not about us at all. It’s all about the Iraqis. I’ve put in the boldface for the visually challenged:
“It’s our position that the Iraqis have to seize this opportunity to sort out with the Iranians just what kind of behavior they are going to tolerate,” the official said…“They are going to have to confront the evidence that the Iranians are deeply involved in some of the acts of violence.”
How bad is that? I conjure up an image of Rice or Hadley on the phone to Maliki and Talabani, telling the Iraqis that we’ve captured senior Iranian military officials (one will get you five we’re talking here about officers from the Revolutionary Guards Corps), and it’s just made the New York Times, and so Maliki and Talabani had better figure out what to do.
And then I imagine a parent of an American soldier in Iraq shrieking at Rice and Hadley “what do you mean, they? The Iranians are killing our kids, how dare you run away from this?”
Those killer quotes from the Times show once again the failure of strategic vision that has plagued us from the beginning of the war. We can only win the war–the real war, the regional-or-maybe-even-global war–if we stop playing defense in Iraq and go after regime change in Damascus and Tehran. Everyone in the region, above all, the Iraqis, knows this. And everyone in the region is looking for evidence that we might be able to muster the will to win this thing.
But dumping responsibility for dealing with Iran in the quivering laps of the Iraqi leaders is precisely the wrong thing to do. We have to lead this war, we have to go after the Iranians. Otherwise, surge or no surge, fifty or a hundred thousand troops more or less, we’re gonna lose. Because the peoples of the Mideast, who have seen many armies come and go over the centuries, are going to throw in with the likely winners. And we can’t win if we refuse to engage the main enemy, which is the Islamic Republic of Iran.