Discussion Thread: August 20, 2005
Thanks guys and gals for all your news links in the previous thread.
I am pretty sure that you have already read this article
; but we could discuss it here:
The Road to Tehran Is Mined
At first, events looked to be moving in quite a different direction. Lost in the obscure pages of the early coverage of the Iraq War was a moment when, it seemed, the clerical regime in Iran flinched. Soon after Saddam fled and Baghdad became an American town, Iran suddenly entered into negotiations with Great Britain, France, and Germany on ending its nuclear program, the most public point of friction with the U.S. After all, it was Saddam's supposed nuclear program that had been the casus belli for the American invasion, and Bush administration neoconservatives had been hammering away at the Iranian program in a similar fashion.
Two developments ended this brief moment of seeming triumph for Washington. As a start, American officials, feeling their oats, balked at the tentative terms negotiated by the Europeans because they did not involve regime change in Iran. This hard-line American stance gave the Iranian leadership no room to maneuver and stiffened their negotiating posture.
At the time, in the wake of its successful three-week war in Iraq, the Bush Administration seemed ready, even eager, to apply extreme military pressure to Iran. According to Washington Post columnist William Arkin, the official U.S. strategic plan (formally known as CONPLAN 8022-02) completed in November 2003 authorized "a preemptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea." An administration pre-invasion quip (reported by Newsweek on August 19, 2002) caught perfectly the post-invasion mood ascendant in Washington: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran."
A second key development neutralized the American ability to turn its military might in an Iranian direction: the rise of the Iraqi resistance. During the several months after the fall of Baghdad, the Saddamist loyalists who had initially resisted the U.S. occupation were augmented by a broader and more resilient insurgency. As the character of the occupation made itself known, small groups of guerrillas began defending their neighborhoods from U.S. military patrols. These patrols were seeking out suspected "regime loyalists" from the Baathist era by knocking down doors, shooting whomever resisted, and arresting all men of "military age" in the household. As the resistance spread, its various factions became more aggressive and resourceful. Over the next year, it blossomed into a formidable and complex enemy that the U.S. Army -- to the surprise of American officials in Washington and Baghdad -- did not have the resources to defeat. It was, then, the swiftly growing Iraqi resistance that, by preventing the consolidation of an American Iraq, forced an Iranian campaign off the table and back into the shadows where it has remained to this day.