Monday, July 23, 2007

What's in the pudding

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From WaPo:

The United States and Iran will hold a second round of direct talks to discuss Iraq's worsening security situation as early as Tuesday, even as U.S. military commanders continue to accuse Iranian operatives of fomenting the instability.

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told news services Sunday that the two sides will sit down together on Tuesday, a date confirmed by U.S. Embassy officials in Baghdad.

The announcement came as the U.S. military said it had detained two alleged weapons smugglers with suspected links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite al-Quds Force. Weapons were confiscated during a pre-dawn raid Sunday on a farm compound east of Baghdad near the Iranian border, the military said. The suspects, the military said, were allegedly smuggling the armor-piercing roadside bombs that have killed many American soldiers.

Iran has repeatedly denied U.S. allegations that its operatives are arming insurgents and targeting U.S. troops. Critics have noted that the U.S. military has not provided indisputable proof of Iranian involvement.

Direct talks between Washington and Tehran should be applauded, but the juxtaposition of developments -- ongoing diplomacy and smuggled weapons -- calls to mind the Rice-Cheney rift in the Bush Administration. While Rice favours diplomacy and understands that any lasting solution to Iraq's security crisis will require the involvement of the Iranians, Cheney has long been pushing for an escalation of tension with respect to U.S.-Iranian relations, or, to be more blunt, has long been promoting a hard line on Iran, including angling for war.

Now, I have no idea if the U.S. military really did detain smugglers connected to Iran. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but questions, and doubts, persist. What are these "suspected links"? Was Tehran directly involved? Notice how all of this is just alleged, as usual. Until there is actual proof of Iranian involvement in the smuggling of weapons into Iraq, and specifically of weapons used against U.S. forces, there is good reason to continue to question, and to doubt. Just as Iraq was misrepresented as an imminent threat prior to the war, so are warmongers like Cheney misrepresenting the Iranian threat now.

I have no love for the Ahmadinejad regime, nor for the theocracy behind it, both of which I loathe, but Cheney and his ilk have proven that they will lie America into war. One war has turned out to be an utter disaster. Another one, with disaster written all over it, could very well be on the way.

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