The latest move in the U.S.’s escalating rhetoric aimed at Iran is Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch’s claim — no evidence provided — that 50 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are training Shiite militias, south of Baghdad, the area under Lynch’s command. He hasn’t caught any of them but he knows they’re there. He also confirms that after spending two months patrolling a 125-mile stretch of the Iraq-Iran border, his troops haven’t once intercepted shipments of illegal weapons. I guess it just goes to show what a devilishly cunning enemy Iran is: it can sneak in sophisticated bombs and train militias how to use them, all without getting caught.
What the U.S. seems to be doing is providing “proof” (threadbare as usual) as to why the Revolutionary Guard needs to be labeled as an SDGT (“specially designated global terrorist”). I’m sure Joe Lieberman thinks the argument is iron-clad.
What seems much less clear is whether there is any real strategic thinking going on here. Robert Baer says he has been told by an administration official, “IRGC IED’s are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran.” It’s a simple as that. Baer writes, “The feeling in the Administration is that we should have taken care of the IRGC a long, long time ago.”
Nothing better optimizes American hubris than the expression “taking care” — as though the solution to any problem merely hinges on whether the all-powerful U.S. of A. gets around to deciding to fix it. Meanwhile the world — convinced that the United States is much better at breaking than fixing — shudders at the prospect that the Pentagon is getting ready to engage in another bout of Middle East problem-solving.
As for how Iran is reacting to the administration’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric? It seems to be eagerly lapping it up.
The Ayatollah’s are far too sophisticated to use an expression like “bring ’em on,” but in effect, that’s what they are saying. Associated Press reports that last week,
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami [not to be confused with former president Mohammad Khatami], who does not hold a government post but once a month delivers the official Friday prayer sermon, told thousands of worshippers at Tehran University in a speech broadcast on radio that the designation [SDGT] showed that the Guards were doing something right.
“I believe the U.S. decision for including the Guards in the list of terrorist organizations is an honor and a golden card in their file,” he said. “Whenever your enemy is saying something bad about an organization, it shows that the organization has been effective,” he added.
Now, in a move that seems calculated to demonstrate who really holds greater political influence in Baghdad — Tehran or Washington — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accepted an invitation to the Iraqi capital. I doubt that President Bush will be able to avail himself of a similar photo opportunity.