Average Couch Potato Joe doesn't understand the various factions operating in Iraq or the linkages between them and other groups. It's easy to say, "Iran is supplying bombs to kill our soldiers." Most people don't understand or remember that Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki is from the Da'wa party and president Bush just had the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) party leader al-Hakim over to the White House for a nice visit.
Most of the current ruling Shi'ite officials that the Bush administration is backing were in exile during Saddam Hussein's rule, many of them in Iran. At the same time, most of the deadly attacks on our military forces are carried out by Sunni extremists -- insurgent groups and al-Qaeda. Ironically, Bush's "New Way Forward" allies in the region are the Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, and yet the Sunni populations in those countries financially back or even send jihadists to Iraq.
So, why rev up the propaganda machine against Iran?
Some speculate that it's because Iran is the ultimate target of the PNAC neocons from day one. Attack Afghanistan, attack Iraq, surround Iran, and then attack the real target. While I'm not an expert on the machinations of the PNAC crowd, I would think they may be re-thinking that plan since steps one and two aren't going too well at the moment.
But think for a moment. Had Afghanistan and Iraq embraced the U.S. as liberators, as the PNAC neocons originally envisioned, they may have been able to drum up support within Iraq to attack Iran. As it is, the Sunni's have enough Shia in Iraq to kill, and vice versa. The U.S. still has enough MEK to wreak a little unrest in Iran.
The Bush administration wants to change the subject
Recently, the acting Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, Gary Sick, offered the most likely reason to drum up propaganda to attack Iran in an interview on PBS's News Hour:
It should be noted that Gary Sick was the Iranian expert on the National Security Council for Ford, Carter and Reagan.
Well, the United States bears a great deal of responsibility for the situation we're in. We invaded Afghanistan and did away with the Taliban, which was Iran's worst enemy to the east. We then did away with Saddam Hussein, who was their worst enemy to the west.
And then we installed a Shia government in Baghdad, for the very first time in history, that was friendly to Iran. Many of the people there were actually sheltered in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.
So we shouldn't be surprised that a close relationship has developed between these two neighboring countries. And I think Iran wants it that way. And, to some very considerable degree, the Iraqis do, too.
The other thing that I think we really have to keep remembering and reminding ourselves in this period is that the real attacks against the United States, the place where Americans are dying most frequently, is not in the Shia territories that were mentioned before, and they're not by Shia weapons.
They are by Sunni insurgents in al-Anbar province. They are, in many cases, supported militarily, financially by people, individuals at least, in the countries that are our new allies, the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and others. Those are the people who blow themselves up in marketplaces and so forth.
By focusing our attention on Iran, we're correct, I'm sure, that Iran is doing some nefarious things in the country, but our real problem lies elsewhere. And I see it, as I say, an effort to change the subject.