I've been having this conversation with a few people recently, in fairly similar formats, so I thought I'd post it.
Recently Condoleeza Rice was asked about whether the US was planning to attack Iran. Her absolutely practiced response, in full, was: "The question is simply not on the agenda at this point. We have many diplomatic tools still at our disposal and we intend to pursue them fully." There are several notable things about these statements:
- That's definitely not a denial
- "At this point" means it could be on the agenda in future, or has already been in the past
- "The question of whether to attack" is not the same as "plans for attack". If you've already decided to attack, then the question certainly isn't on the agenda anymore.
- The talk about using diplomatic options is exactly what was used in the run-up to attacking Iraq
So as far as I'm concerned, the Ayatollah needs to start building some spider-holes, and quickly. Bring on the counter-arguments!
But that's crazy!
Of course it is. When did that stop them before? Insinuating that Saddam was linked to 9/11 was ludicrous. Attacking based on intelligence about WMD that turned out to come from an Iranian spy previously convicted of fraud was crazy. He can and DOES do completely ridiculous unthinkable shit, like attacking Iraq when Osama's from S.Arabia, and not firing Rumsfeld when he sanctioned torture. All of their domestic policies are nuts, too. In fact, given the history of this administration to date, the fact that it's a crazily dangerous thing to do actually increases the likelihoood of them doing it.
They could never afford it
What's another $80 billion when you're already $3 trillion in the hole? The Bushies have decided that Deficits Don't Matter™ again. They'll just cut more programs and raise the defence budget yet again.
They don't have enough soldiers
This one is pretty hard to refute. Even moving the Korean-based ones back and calling up ever-older reserves and veterans, they're running out of manpower down there. But they've been bringing the draft machinery quietly back into life: if that kicks in, they're suddenly going to have a lot of new, if extremely unhappy, soldiers.
They're still busy in Iraq!
Oh, there you go being all rational again. They didn't hesitate to attack Iraq when Afghanistan was (and largely is) still a warzone, why would it stop them now?
The international community wouldn't stand for it
Hello, Coalition Of The Willing™! Note: that's willing, not able. Afghanistan is part of the CotW, as is Micronesia, which, according to the CIA world factbook, "is totally dependent on the US for its defense". So, basically, they're helping out by giving back that military we were lending them. Thanks, guys!
Blair will never support the war
See, Blair's position is really hard to understand on Iraq. I'm not entirely sure he knows why he agreed, but he's far too deep to back out now. But his stated reasons for attacking Iraq are the cruelties of Saddam Hussein, the treatment of women, etc., and that freeing Iraq has made things better there. Those reasons are extremely tenuous reasons for war, and can in any case be easily applied to about 75% of Africa, as I have said before. They can also, of course, be applied pretty easily to Iran -- they do have some kind of democracy, but only in the way that Nepal has democracy -- i.e. a bunch of people are elected, but can't do anything. So really, if Dubya decides the next lot of brown people he wants to pay Halliburton to blow up are Iran, Blair is going to find it tricky to disagree.
But Iran doesn't have any oil!
Ah, this is the hardest of all. My stated belief is that attacking Iraq was all about garnering a friendly, oil-rich state in the middle east to sort out the problem that Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer by a long way, is a hostile state that sponsors terrorists, including the ones who perpetrated September 11th. We can't piss of the Saudis, 'cause they have a quarter of the world's oil all by themselves. Iraq, on the other hand, is second-largest with 11%, and has a crazy dictator. Bombs away!
So why attack Iran?
Because there is a persuasive Iraq-based argument for attacking Iran. Clearly, Iran is the force and the funding behind the insurgents in Iraq. Chalabi, who gave us all the fake intelligence about the WMDs, was an Iranian spy. Iran wanted us to attack Iraq, because they wanted to take over, and that's still their plan. As long as Iran has a free hand, Iraq will be hard to keep stable. The Bush administration must know this: so, if they want to win in Iraq, they must attack Iran.
So they will. If I were a betting man, I'd say inside of twelve months.