Friday, February 2, 2007

As US power fades, it can't find friends to take on Iran

Washington has exaggerated Tehran's capabilities and intentions in Iraq. It is confused and frustrated

Jonathan Steele
Friday February 2, 2007
The Guardian

"......The real purpose of Washington's heightened talk of Iranian subversion seems to be twofold. The administration is playing the blame game. When the "who lost Iraq?" debate develops in earnest as the presidential election contest hots up, Bush's people will name its fall guys. Number one will be the Democrats, for failing to fund the war adequately and allowing the "enemy" to take comfort from the sapping of American will. Number two will be Iran for its alleged arming of militias and insurgents. Number three will be Syria for allowing suicide bombers through Damascus airport and into Iraq.

The second purpose of Washington's anti-Iranian claims, as the former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski recently suggested, is to prepare a case for a US military strike on Iran. It will be described as defensive, just as the first attacks on North Vietnam two generations ago were falsely said to be an answer to the other side's aggression.

There could be a third aim: a desire to influence the internal Iranian debate. A senior US official stated in London this week that the Iranian government was a monolith and "we try to discern differences within the Iranian regime at our peril". That may not be the majority view within the administration. Ratcheting up accusations against Iran's revolutionary guards who are close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be a device to make a case for moderates like the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. He appears to favour a deal with Washington rather than confrontation.

The safest conclusion is that Washington remains confused about what Iran is doing, and frustrated by its own inability to find allies to support a response. All options are being prepared, along with their "justifications". The International Institute for Strategic Studies' annual survey rightly pointed out this week that US power is fading. It can shape an agenda but not implement it globally......"

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