At my house, we like to spend some time putting together jigsaw puzzles. It’s a fun family activity that also stretches our minds spatially. So it’s no real surprise that I am a ‘puzzle’ kind of guy. I’ve been looking at a few new puzzle pieces lately though and I am not in the least bit relaxed or amused. In fact, the picture beginning to emerge isn’t something cute like puppies or beautiful like a susnet, but rather an apocolyptic image of warfare and blood and needless death. I am talking about Iran, and the seeming US plans to launch another ill-fated military expedition under the guise of “fighting terror, spreading democracy, and keeping nukes out of terrorist hands.”

The first pieces of the puzzle came from the president’s speech last week when the president announced that he was sending (more) Patriot missle batteries to the Middle East. In itself, this is a curious thing to do, since the only militaries over there with missle capabilities to worry about are in Israel and Iran. I doubted that Bush was planning to defend Arab countries from Israeli missle attacks, so the conclusion would be that we needed protection from Iranian missles. Why though when we are not militarily engaged with Iran and neither are any other countries directly engaged in war with Iran? What reason would we need to build up missle defenses other than to bolster up areas that Iran could attack if a war occurred? The president also said in that speech that

“We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.”


“Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

In my response to the presidents speech, I noted that “these words, when combined with his calls for an increase in the military in general, seem clearly to point out where the tanks and planes are headed next. Make no mistake—Bush has every desire to extend the Iraqi War into these countries. He has been simply waiting for an opportunity. His rhetoric about Iranian nuclear intentions and capability have been consistently rebuffed by experts who say that Iraq is at least seven years or more away froma viable nuclear weapon. If he goes forth as intended, expect to see border incursions and firefights at both the Syrian-Iraq and Iran-Iraq borders, with an eventual crossing of one or both by U.S. troops. Such an escalation would only make matters far worse as nations divide and join sides.”

These were the first real pieces to the emerging puzzle. The next came yesterday in a post here which quoted a Raw Story report that a major investment bank was warning against an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The report claims that Israel, backed by the US, may well be planning an attack while Bush is still in office, since they could rely on US support (at least US administation support) for such an attack. It further notes that Bush’s reshuffling of generals in the Middle East from those who advised against such an escalation with Iran with those more pliable to the Decider’s terrible decisions. With this news, it became more plausible that an attack on Iran, either by the US directly or through the Israeli proxy, may well be forthcoming.

Today, two new reports come forth to reveal even more US military affairs in the region.

In the first, according to a former Russian Fleet Admiral, US submarines currently located in the Persian Gulf are positioning themselves to block the Gulf of Oman, the persian Gulf and parts of the Arabian Sea. Such moves would have the effect of blockading the Iranian coast as well as moving these subs into position for missle strikes against Iranian nuclear and oil targets within Iran. Since the US submarines are not vital in any of the efforts in Iraq, except perhaps for some kinds of intelligence monitoring, their existence in the region brings cause for alarm.

And the second report, filtered through a Kuwaiti news source, says that the US may be preparing an attack against Iran as soon as April. This report is perhaps the least reliable, to me anyhow, because it claims to get its information from an unnamed source who are privy to details of a secret White House meeting between Bush, Cheney, Rice and Gates.

Taken together, even unsubstiantiated, these reports, coming in from all over the place, lead to conclusions one doesn’t particularly like to make. Add to this the recent extensions of US forces in Iraq (perhaps a pre-staging for an Iran attack instead of an effort to quell violence in Baghdad?) and a call to increase military strength permanently, and the emerging puzzle looks even more bleak.

There may well be nothing that can be done to stop this escalation if it does in fact materialize. Even with an opposition Congress to content with, Bush has already proven that he values no other judgement than his own, presumably because that is what God has instructed of him. And history is filled with many monsters who believed they had a red phone to God and look at the damage they have wrought on humanity.

The issue is bigger than just attacking Iran or increasing the level of Middle East disaster. An attack against Iran will be much more polarizing than Iraq has been. Nations that heretofore have only condemned our actions may well take steps to marginalize us. The US may be the worlds biggest economy; we may have the most technologically advanced military; we may be vital to nations increasing wealth creation. None of that will matter. Most of the emerging nations that rely on US buyers to increase their own wealth and standing have a history of repression against their people. The can clamp down on economic reforms and advancements to stymie the US if they think we are out of control. After all, their people are used to harsh conditions and repressive economies. The US is not.

China and Russia both have many dealings with Iran, and they have pretty big militaries too. And the Muslim world would likely not take kindly to an invasion of Iran.

But in fact, I would be surprised if US forces weren’t already operating in Iran, ala Cambodia years ago.

Not content with being merely the worst president in US history, Bush seems determined to be the last as well.
Can anyone say WWIII?

(cross posted on Bring It On!)