Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Brink Approacheth

Do you want a snoot-clearer that puts the bird flu to shame? Try this latest declaration from Michael Ledeen:

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is dying of cancer. But he is convinced that his legacy will be glorious. He believes that thousands of his Revolutionary Guards intelligence officers effectively control southern Iraq, and that the rest of the country is at his mercy, since we present no challenge to them — even along the Iraq/Iran border, where they operate with impunity. They calmly plan their next major assault without having to worry about American retribution. The mullahs have thousands of intelligence officers all over Iraq, as well as a hard core of Hezbollah terrorists — including the infamous Imadh Mughniyah, arguably the region’s most dangerous killer — and they control the major actors, from Zarqawi to Sadr to the Badr Brigades.

Khamenei and his top cronies believe they have effectively won. They think the U.S. is politically paralyzed, thanks to the relentless attacks of President Bush’s opponents and the five-year long internal debate about Iran policy, and thus there is no chance of an armed attack, even one limited to nuclear sites. They think Israel is similarly paralyzed by Sharon’s sudden departure and the triumph of their surrogate force, Hamas, in the Palestinian elections. They despise the Europeans, and hardly even bother to pretend to negotiate with them any more. They believe they have a strong strategic alliance with the Russians and they think they have the Chinese over a barrel, since the Chinese are so heavily dependent on Iranian oil. Recent statements from Beijing and Moscow regarding the chance of U.N. sanctions will have reinforced the Supreme Leader’s convictions.

And why shouldn't the mullahs believe the above? Iran is subverting Iraq at will right in front of our forces there and the Bush Administration is doing absolutely nothing about it - other than to negotiate with Iran over Iraq's status. As if the mullahs were entitled to an opinion, much less a say in the outcome.

Small wonder then that Tehran continues to arm itself to the teeth, conducts war games in the Persian Gulf that would be an ideal pretext for closing the Strait of Hormuz, and inches ever closer to the nuclear threshold that would trigger all manner of nastiness with Armageddon as the terminus.

As John Batchelor wrote the other day, "It's November. It's 1941. Sauve qui peut."

Somehow "faster, please," has gained a lot more sinister a context.