From McClatchy, by Warren P. Strobel, John Walcott and Nancy A. Youssef:
WASHINGTON — President Bush charged Thursday that Iran continues to arm and train insurgents who are killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq, and he threatened action if that continues.
Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iran run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy.
The debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both.
Nor is it clear from the evidence the administration has presented whether Iran, which has long-standing ties to several Iraqi Shiite groups, including the Mahdi Army of radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr and the Badr Organization, which is allied with the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, is a major cause of the anti-American and sectarian violence in Iraq or merely one of many. At other times, administration officials have blamed the Sunni Muslim group al Qaida in Iraq for much of the violence.
I give McKlatchy immense credit for airing the voices of dissent to the maladministration's finger-pointing at Iran. The Bush maladministration continues to give out misinformation concerning the extent that the leadership in Iran gives help to the insurgents. But they continue to support Prime Minister Maliki, who is Shiite. The Iranian leadership is Shiite. What can Bush and Cheney be thinking? They have enabled the strengthening of the relationship between the leadership of Iraq and Iran, by not pressuring Maliki to give the Sunnis a greater stake in the future of Iraq.
I hope that the members of Congress, now in recess, are keeping a sharp eye on this situation.
Juan Cole at Informed Comment has this to say:
In other words, the US military is playing a dangerous political game of attempting to undermine al-Maliki's diplomacy with Iran and to alienate the Sadr Movement from him altogether (it has already suspended membership in his government). For more on the timing of (surely overstated) US military announcements implicating Iran so as to undermine talks with Tehran by US and Iraqi diplomats, see Bill Beeman's comments below. This is not the proper role for generals, and it is shocking that Amassador Ryan Crocker and Secretary of State Condi Rice allow it to go on.
I can't seem to link directly to Cole's post on Wednesday, so if you want to read the quote at his site, you must scroll down from today's post to the Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007, post.
Before the invasion of Iraq, we were fed the Bush maladministration's deceptive and inaccurate line on Iraq, and now they are doing the same thing with Iran. It is vital that we pay better attention to the dissenting voices this time around.