Sunday, January 14, 2007


Mistakenly Aggressive

by digby

In fact, administration officials (anonymous due to diplomatic sensitivities) concede that Bush's Iran language may have been overly aggressive, raising unwarranted fears about military strikes on Tehran. Instead, they say, Bush was trying to warn Iran to keep its operatives out of Iraq, and to reassure Gulf allies—including Saudi Arabia—that the United States would protect them against Iranian aggression. A senior administration official, not authorized to speak on the record, says the policy is part of the new Iraq offensive.

Please. I know these people are dumb, but even they aren't this dumb.

It is obvious that they are trying to provoke Iran into some kind of Gulf of Tonkin incident. After all, Bush is known to think along these lines. You'll recall that after the invasion the memo outlining the details of the January 31, 2003 meeting between Bush and Blair was leaked:

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

And yet everyone is supposed to believe that they didn't mean to "raise unwarranted fears" about this new war, even with their inexplicable mention of patriot missiles and the fact that carrier groups are on their way to the region. Uh huh.

Normally, I would say that I hope the Iranians don't take the bait. But that's foolish. If they don't take the bait, the administration will just make something up and say "you can believe your president or you can believe your eyes." That's what they do.

Update: Commenter Noen points to this article by Robert Parry at Consortium News who reminds us that Bush seemed to freak out Brian Williams and Tim Russert in his pre-speech briefing at the white house:

Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush’s nationwide address, NBC’s Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said “there’s a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue – in the country and the world – in a very acute way.”

Russert and NBC anchor Brian Williams depicted this White House emphasis on Iran as the biggest surprise from the briefing as Bush stepped into the meeting to speak passionately about why he is determined to prevail in the Middle East.

“The President’s inference was this: that an entire region would blow up from the inside, the core being Iraq, from the inside out,” Williams said, paraphrasing Bush.

Despite the already high cost of the Iraq War, Bush also defended his decision to invade Iraq and to eliminate Saddam Hussein by arguing that otherwise “he and Iran would be in a race to acquire a nuclear bomb and if we didn’t stop him, Iran would be going to Pakistan or to China and things would be much worse,” Russert said.

If Russert’s account is correct, there could be questions raised about whether Bush has lost touch with reality and may be slipping back into the false pre-invasion intelligence claims about Hussein threatening the United States with “a mushroom cloud.”


While avoiding any overt criticism of Bush’s comments about an imaginary Iraqi-Iranian arms race, Russert suggested that the news executives found the remarks perplexing.

“That’s the way he sees the world,” Russert explained. “His rationale, he believes, for going into Iraq still was one that was sound.”

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews then interjected, “And it could be the rationale for going into Iran at some point.”

Russert paused for a few seconds before responding, “It’s going to be very interesting to watch that issue and we have to cover it very, very carefully and very exhaustively.”

Well, that would be a first.

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