Friday, January 28, 2005

 

Patrick Seale in al-Ahram

Patrick Seale does a typically good job in his article in this week's al-Ahram, which focuses on the possibilities of US armed action against Syria or Iran. The key paragraph in the whole thing, I think, is this one:
Until now, most observers believed that the US was too busy and overstretched in Iraq to contemplate new wars. But this argument is being turned on its head. The view one now tends to hear in Washington is that there can be no victory in Iraq until Iran and Syria are brought to heel.
I hate to admit it, but there is a certain brilliance in this rhetorical strategy if it is going to be adopted by the administration post-Iraqi elections. First of all, it deflects criticism that is going to be levelled at the Bush camp after the Iraqi elections. No matter how well the elections go compared to expectations, there will certainly be continued violence in Iraq, there will certainly be continued US casualties, and, as a result, there will certainly be continued criticism of the war and of the Bush administration's handling of it. So the administration line then becomes "We organized the elections, we pushed them through, we put the future of the Iraqis in Iraqi hands. The problem is the Syrians and/or Iranians, who refuse to let democracy work its magic in Iraq." And of course the other bird is working up anti-Iranian/anti-Syrian momentum. Thus, things being bad in Iraq isn't a reason not to move on to Iran or Syria, it's the reason to move on to Iran or Syria. I think this is a card of the administration best played after the Iraqi elections, but I wouldn't be surprised if they started pulling it out of the sleeve pretty soon after (give it a week or so).

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