Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Persian Gulf incident?

What with the raid on an Iranian consulate in the Kurdish city of Erbil, the movement of a second carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf and yet more bellicose rhetoric out of Washington, it is reasonable for Digby to conclude: "It is obvious that they are trying to provoke Iran into some kind of Gulf of Tonkin incident. "

Such an incident, modeled on the bogus Gulf of Tonkin "incident" in 1964, could indeed be manipulated to justify an attack on Iran or, at least, move a reluctant Congress towards greater support for Bush policies in the Middle East.

But is there a serious risk that the U.S. will provoke a war with Iran? The problem with this hypothesis is the lack of military resources to sustain a war after any such Persian Gulf incident. The Pentagon is already struggling to come up with 21,500 troops to supply Bush's escalation in Iraq. At best, or maybe I should say worst, the Fifth Fleet might mount an aerial offensive for a few weeks that would barely even encumber Iran's nuclear program. A ground attack, or any kind of sustained offensive against Iran, would be unthinkable without a major military (not to mention political) mobilization in the U.S. And that simply ain't gonna happen, unless the Iranians do something very stupid. To Iran's President Ahmadinijad (whose capacity for foolishness shouldn't be overlooked), Bush' s provocations must seem like so much bluster.

Meanwhile, Bush's support seems to be eroding by the hour—it's practically down to McCain, Lieberman, Laura and Barney.

Another hypothesis: A truly insane George Bush will provoke a major war against Iran without caring about U.S. resources or the likely outcomes, militarily or politically.

As Bush becomes ever more isolated and reckless, the demands for impeachment will likely increase. Right now, though, impeachment seems very unlikely without a major revolt among congressional Republicans. Unless Bush goes completely over the edge—something that can't be ruled out—it's hard to imagine any realistic scenario where 2/3 of the Senate would vote to convict and remove Bush and Cheney, regardless of the evidence that might justify such action.

Meanwhile, the Decider plods on, unabashed:
"Bush has always said he sleeps soundly, admitting to no fretting about his decisions and no concern about polls. Johnson, by contrast, famously obsessed over the war night and day, asking to be awakened every time someone died.

"'I'm wondering if this is not some kind of tragically misguided notion of statesmanship on the part of Bush, that there is something noble about ignoring public opinion,' said Margaret Susan Thompson, who teaches a Modern Presidency course at Syracuse University's Maxwell School." [Jennifer Loven, Associated Press]
PHOTO: Barney (the last Bush loyalist?) making policy in the White House.

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