So what?

James Joyner has a good round-up of links on the presentation by the U. S. military yesterday of evidence of material Iranian support for “Shiite extremist groups” within Iraq. As I understand it the case is, basically:

  • explosive devices and materials that clearly originated in Iran are being used against us in Iraq (this part of the case looks pretty sound to me)
  • the Revolutionary Guard Qods Force is responsible for the distribution of these materials (asserted but not proven)
  • the activity is being conducted under the direction of the highest levels of the Iranian government (asserted but not proven)

As best as I can determine from the various links that James provides where you sit depends on where you stand.

My question is “So what?”

If what our military is claiming is true, Iran is engaging in acts of war against us. I’d be nonplussed if that were not the case. Iran declared war against us nearly a generation ago. There’s no mandate, when another nation engages in acts of war against another, that the nation so attacked should respond in kind. That’s only done when it’s in the national interest to do so.

I don’t see any objective short of regime change in Iran that would make an attack on Iran a sensible thing to do and further the national interest. I’ve been extremely consistent on that point here: I don’t believe that invading or bombing Iran is in our national interest.

So, my reaction to the news that Iran is engaging in covert acts of warfare against us is that we should engage in covert acts of warfare right back at them.

As I’ve also written before I’d like to see our Congress investigate these claims and actually take a stand one way or another on the subject. I doubt they will.

Before I close this post I’d like to draw your attention to a post by publius at Obsidian Wings. publius makes the following proposal:

Any Democrat who supports military action against Iran gets a primary challenger. Any presidential candidate who supports military action against Iran loses primary support. Period. No exceptions.

Does anyone else agree with me that this is most callow, idiotic proposal they’ve ever seen?

Regardless of party what I want in a president in someone who will weigh the situation at the time and makes decisions in the national interest predicated on the situation rather than making inane pledges of non-violence. Further, uncertainty is a powerful tool in foreign relations. When you will only accept a candidate that pledges no to use force regardless of the circumstances, you guarantee that you will either get a candidate who promises to forego even the tool of uncertainty or who is promising to lie to get the nomination when circumstances warrant.


Here Olivier Guitta makes the case for increased sanctions against Iran.

Update 2

Courtesy of Andy of NonPartisan Pundit in the comments here’s a presentation on Iranian involvement in Iraq.

Update 3

The headline on this article from VOA News, “Top General Disputes US Military Claim on Iran”, is misleading. Here’s the quote:

General Pace said he was not aware of the Baghdad briefing, and that he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion made there that the elite Quds brigade of Iran’s Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents.

“We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this,” he said. “It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.”

Gen. Pace is not disputing the claim, he’s failing to confirm it which IMO is quite politic of him.

11 comments… add one
  • “Does anyone else agree with me that this is most callow, idiotic proposal they’ve ever seen?”

    Yes, but the night is young Dave, metaphorically speaking.

    I don’t think attacking Iran is wise, in our national interest or likely to root out all of Iran’s nuclear weapons program -though it will probably degrade it and may succeed in collapsing the Iranian state as a functional central authority over the Iranian plateau. I’m not sure that is in our interest either unless we are crushing preparations for a strategic WMD attack.

  • Here’s what looks to be a leaked or declassified MNF-I briefing on Iranian weapons in Iraq:

  • Ken Hoop Link

    I believe the “proposal” is wise. WE declared war against Iran by assassinating Mossadegh in 1953. (The attack on the Marine barracks
    in Lebanon ,as a sidelight, incidentially, was not Iranian sponsored.)

    Now, why is it wise? Because lying neocons like Doug Feith still
    apparantly have Bush’s ear. Bush is tempted to go for broke in redeeming
    his legacy and thus believing their lies as before. Ledeen has been
    clamoring for overthrowing Iran’s government for a decade, lying all
    along the way. These people still look on Israel as a personal escape
    valve in a worse case scenario.

    The further away and the quicker American troops are from Iranian/Iraqi Shia reprisals the better.

  • Ken, since Mossadegh was not assassinated by us or anybody else, you very clearly know nothing about the subject you’re commenting on.

  • Dave, Ken was wrong on the specifics, but makes a good point – American “intervention” in foreign countries is rarely appreciated by the citizens there. Certainly an Iraq-like decapitation in Iran would have a disastrous impact on the people there and is therefore unlikely to make us better liked (read “safer”).

    At the same time I agree that the U.S. should return tit for tat to the Iranians. Our experiences in the Cold War should prove useful, given the right leadership. Then we understood that fire had to be fought with fire, not pretty words. A desire for peace is good, commitment to it is better, but peace at any price is suicide. As with the torture of terrorists,, there are no absolutes.

  • Ken Hoop Link
  • Ken Hoop Link

    So Marc, the logic of your statement is once we vacate Iraq we can
    “tit for tat” Iran.

  • LaurenceB Link

    Personally, I think one-issue tests for candidates are a bad idea – so, yes, I agree with Dave that Publius is way off base.

    That having been said, military action against Iran would be unbelievably stupid at this juncture. I would be strongly inclined not to vote for a candidate who supported it.

  • Ken,

    While I’m no Persianist, I do know something about Operation Ajax and I’m highly skeptical. Could we have a more specific cite for the “assassination” of Mossadegh, if that’s not too much trouble ? A money quote from the book, perhaps ?

  • Ken Hoop Link

    here’s an amplification and I’m sure the book is available for more.

  • It’d be informative to watch what Iran’s ambassador to UN has to say about the presented evidence. This is the video:

    His interview starts at minute 25.

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