Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If it's a day that the Washington Post puts out a paper, then it's a day that they'll do their best to make Bush look bad...

Today's adventure is found in their story With Iran Ascendant, U.S. Is Seen at Fault, in which the Post attempts to show that Iran's flexing of its muscles, a result of Bush's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, is making other countries in the Middle East uneasy.

Well, the Post is right that countries such as Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt are nervous about Iran... but they've always been pretty nervous about Iran. They've long been concerned about Shiite-majority Iran formenting trouble in their Sunni-majority countries. The US invasion didn't make them nervous, they already were and would have remained nervous even if the US hadn't gone into either Iraq or Afghanistan... but that is apparently irrelevant to a reporter who views things solely through an anti-Bush lens.

The Post misses the big picture, the extent to which the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan have made things a bit worse. Iran is filling the power vacuum, but not the one created by Hussein's departure from the scene, but rather from the perceived impotence of the United States. Pretty much the entire world (the notable exception being the delusionist-in-chief and his kool-aid drinking followers) views the invasion of Iraq as being a failure. Even worse, they view the United States as being unwilling/unable to exert enough pressure on Iran to keep Iran from causing trouble in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

Iran finances and supports Hezbollah in Lebanon... and the United States does nothing (and Israel, our ally, does nothing of significance). Iran supports and finances the insurgents in Iraq who are responsible for much of the killing of both US troops and Iraqis... and the United States does nothing. Iran sends its operatives into Iran to kill US soldiers... and the United States does nothing (heck, until recently, we'd give Iran back their troublemakers). Iran continues to develop its nuclear programs, giving the 'international community' the middle finger... and the United States does nothing.

Given this, is it any surprise that other countries in the Middle East doubt the United States will do much of anything to help protect them from Iranian attack? It's only logical for them to think that if the United States won't take action against Iran to keep Iran from killing US soldiers, what kind of action will the United States take against Iran to keep Iran from meddling in Kuwait... or Egypt... or Saudi Arabia?

It's not the invasion of Iraq that has led to the mess we're in with Iran... it is the combination of Bush sticking around in Iraq trying to build his shining city on a hill (wasting lives and resources that could have been deployed against Iran) and the incompetent and half-hearted way that Bush has dealt with Iran that have led to the mess we're in. Had Bush limited the military mission in Iraq to getting rid of Hussein and eliminating whatever WMDs there were in Iraq, then pulled our troops back, our troops wouldn't be bogged down in Iraq and unable to serve as an effective deterrent against Iran. Had Bush not bothered to waste the better part of two-plus years trying to get UN support for clamping down on Iran's nuclear programs (UN support, by the way, he will never get), he could have stomped on Iran's fingers long ago. Had he not been such a wimp by looking the other way at Iran's meddling in Iran, other countries in the Middle East might have been a bit more comfortable thinking we'd be there for them. Had Bush not held Israel back from going after Hezbollah in Lebanon and their Syrian backers, then Iran might have had some reason to think there was a point beyond which it was suicidal for them to push.

But Bush did none of that. So the Post is right, in that Bush is to be blamed for the repercussions of his invasion of Iraq... but if you want - as I do - to blame Bush for allowing Iran to pose the threat they now do, let's make sure we blame him in the right way.... not for invading, but for mucking it up so badly.