Monday, February 26, 2007

pull the thread, dammit!

The NY Times brings us the latest round of the shell game in Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Feb. 25 — A raid on a Shiite weapons cache in the southern city of Hilla one week ago is providing what American officials call the best evidence yet that the deadliest roadside bombs in Iraq are manufactured in Iran, but critics contend that the forensic case remains circumstantial and inferential.

The new evidence includes infrared sensors, electronic triggering devices and information about plastic explosives used in bombs that the Americans say lead back to Iran. The explosive material, triggering devices, other components and the method of assembly all produce weapons with an Iranian signature that has never been found outside Iraq or southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah is believed to have used weapons supplied by Iran, the Americans say.

But critics assert that nearly all the bomb components could have been produced in Iraq or somewhere else in the region. Even if the evidence were to establish that Iran is the source, they add, that does not necessarily mean that the Iranian leadership is responsible.

I don't care whether the Ayatollah drove the weapons across the border in his bulletproof mullah-mobile and personally delivered them to al-Sadr, this still would not make it ok to bomb Iran.

Take the option off the frickin' table already.

Skeptics say the new details do not support a conclusion that only Iran could be providing the components. “Iran may well be involved in the supply of these weapons, but so far they haven’t proved it,” said Joseph Cirincione, senior vice president for National Security at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy organization.

“Before we act on the assumption that these are Iranian we’ve got to rule out all these other possibilities,” he said. “The military hasn’t done that.”

He noted that a related weapon, the shape charge, “has been around for decades.

“This is not new stuff,” he continued. “There is a vast international arms market selling shape charges from many countries.”

. . .

Major Weber said many of those techniques were clearly Iranian in origin. Critics said that all of them could be replicated by skilled Iraqis or others in the Middle East with a solid knowledge of electronics and basic manufacturing techniques.

I have some unsolicited advice (as if there were any other kind on this blog) for these so-called "critics" and "skeptics". The correct response to the narrative of Iranian aggression being constructed by the White House is not “those EFPs could be made anywhere.” The correct response is “it doesn’t matter where those effing things were made, the idea of attacking Iran is the product of the fevered, sociopathic brain of Dick Cheney and needs to be neutered right now.”

The correct response to breathless reports of Iranian nuclear fiddling is not “Iran is at least 10 years away from a bomb.” The correct response is “The Bush administration is busy undermining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at every turn, so why doesn't it refocus its efforts on actually preventing proliferation.” If the debate centers around the first response, the obvious question then is what happens in 10 years? That’s not very far away, and most of us will probably still be around. What happens in 5 years, when Iran is 5 years away from a bomb? Or what if Iran is not 10 years away from a bomb? What if it’s more like 3 or 4 years? What if it has one now? What then?

The question that should be asked is not “How close is Iran to getting the bomb?” because the answer the White House is looking for to that question is “We can’t afford to wait to find out, mushroom cloud, etc.” Instead, the better questions are “Why have the Cold War nuclear powers failed to stop nuclear proliferation?” and “How can nuclear proliferation be reversed?” I have a decent idea, based on my careful, systematic observation of North Korea and Iraq from the period 2003-2006, that the solution does not include “threats of attack by the U.S.

The administration has framed the question in this way (and the Times has lapped it up): “Is Iran providing weapons to insurgents in Iraq that are being used to kill U.S. troops?” If the answer is shown to be “yes” to the satisfaction of the New York Times, then the administration will say it is duty-bound to take appropriate measures against Iran in response—I’m guessing that would involve air attacks against suspected nuclear facilities.

What air strikes on suspected nuclear sites have to do with EFPs, I do not know.

But for actual sentient critics of the Cheney foreign policy, arguing about the answer to the weapons question is a foolish thing to do. The administration’s question is irrelevant to the thread that unravels this particular bamboozle, which is: “Why would any sane person want to start a war with Iran?” This has little to do with which EFPs came from where and why, or how smoothly they are contoured or from which Radioshack in Tehran they were sourced, and more to do with whether we want to unleash a world of hurt on ourselves and the region and accelerate our national descent into madness.