The Isolation of George W. Bush

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

[T]he neocons seem ready now to start acting unilaterally again [against Iran]….[A] grand bargain wouldn’t serve America’s purpose in the middle east…”

DKo, 2/23/07
Well, there is “America’s purpose in the middle east,” and there are the neocons–increasingly two different animals. “America’s purpose,” (as defined by the ruling elites, and represented by the Iraq Study Group and the Council on Foreign Relations) is just not as “patriotic” as the neocons are. And by now they don’t see exclusive hegemony over Iran as attainable, anyway. It could go like this…
The neocons, including Bush/Cheney, will be isolated domestically. Apparently they won’t bend, and will have to be broken.
The Dems in congress appear to have decided to make the Iraq Study Group, rather than conditional war funding, the club with which to beat Bush. It will be the substantive framework of an updated War Powers Resolution.
The one part of the ISG report that hardly anyone has criticized is the opening of diplomacy with Syria and Iran. It is going to serve as the way Republicans as well as conservative Democrats can back or ignore Bush on the Surge, vote against the new WP Resolution, but still put some distance between themselves and him.
Iran/Syria diplomacy probably has a sizable majority in both houses even as we speak. It may not be veto-proof, but it also may be so lopsided as to be irresistible.

Will the US Attack Iran?

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

I think an attack on Iran has to be pre-opposed, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Sufficient in itself is the presence of American “hostage-troops” in Iraq. The vulnerable supply-lines from the south–and their personnel–would be ravaged by Iranians and Iraqi Shiites, including much of the Iraqi Army, cutting off the rest of the US troops, many of whose outposts would anyway be overrun. Ships in the gulf will be sunk–missiles and “kamikaze” boats and planes.
Any attack on Iran “worth doing” would need to be sustained, but this would be convulsed, not “rallied round,” with Mid-East and European allies in revolt, bipartisan domestic politics in revolt, including the Republican nominees.
The attack would also have to be elaborately prepared. I think Bush and Cheney are increasingly on their own. They will be headed off. Politically, again, including all the Wise Men and foreign policy establishment in force. The military would, in effect, refuse–they have ways.* Europe, China, and Russia will have peeled off and made a separate peace.
That’s my guess.
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*Note this rather amazing article:

US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack

The London Sunday Times, 2/25/07
SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

No template for you!

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

U.S. holds out North Korea deal as model for Iran, Reuters
…White House spokesman Tony Snow called the deal a “template…”

But this is the precisely the template the US has refused!

We talked with North Korea, both in the six-party talks and in bilateral meetings, without preconditions. We could start Iranian talks tomorrow morning, if we would agree to that with them.
Personally, I think we should take seriously Iran’s insistence on the right to do enrichment. The supreme ruler, especially, uses the term right in every statement.
That would explain why they are willing to yield on enrichment as part of a negotiated agreement (where everyone gives up things they have a right to), but not as a precondition to talks (where it is like a criminal turning herself in).
Of course, they’d expect us to renounce the overthrow of their government too, as part of the reciprocity.

Serious Word Play

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

The specific wording of a widely reported statement by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, following his recent meeting with Secretary Rice, might actually become significant at some point.
“Olmert said any Palestinian government must accept the three conditions laid down by the ‘Quartet’ of Mideast mediators…”
Previously, it was also Hamas itself that had to accept the conditions, not just a unity government Hamas might lead. Hamas had argued this point, saying that the Likud Party was still committed to the expansive boundaries of a Greater Israel, even while the Likud-led government was party to agreements that abandoned those boundaries.

The Military Commissions–Worse than Just Procedures

· dKo journal, Edgewise, Paleoblogs

Pentagon sets rules for terrorism suspect trials
WASHINGTON (Reuters), 1/18/07 – The Pentagon on Thursday gave broad discretion to judges to decide what evidence may be presented against suspected…Taliban members facing trial in the new military commissions court system.
DKo: So, suspected terrorists and suspected Taliban members may be regarded interchangeably. And, indeed, that is consistent with the basic setup of these commissions–even though the Taliban were the government of Afghanistan; their army was the army of Afghanistan; they were fighting a war against the American army within Afghanistan; and no claim is made that the Taliban even had knowledge of the terrorist attacks to be launched in the United States.
It is laudable that the commissions are being criticized on the basis of their egregious procedures, including the use of testimony-by-torture. Still, it reminds me of something I read long ago from Bertrand Russell (from memory here), that if the government announced plans to sterilize all deviants, the liberals would demand due process.