Friday, January 12, 2007

Cowboy Diplomacy Rides Again

As far as I can tell, the British media doesn't really seem to have grasped the importance of the Iranian angle to Bush's escalation speech. I've been banging on about it here but it doesn't seem to have been given the coverage it deserves in the British media.

It's almost enough to make a person wonder whether he's barking up the wrong tree.

But then again.

Only this president, only in this time, only with this dangerous, even messianic certitude, could answer a country demanding an exit strategy from Iraq, by offering an entrance strategy for Iran.

Only this president could look out over a vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq, and finally say, “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me” — only to follow that by proposing to repeat the identical mistake ... in Iran.

Only this president could extol the “thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group,” and then take its most far-sighted recommendation — “engage Syria and Iran” — and transform it into “threaten Syria and Iran” — when al-Qaida would like nothing better than for us to threaten Syria, and when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than to be threatened by us.

This is diplomacy by skimming; it is internationalism by drawing pictures of Superman in the margins of the text books; it is a presidency of Cliff Notes. And to Iran and Syria — and, yes, also to the insurgents in Iraq — we must look like a country run by the equivalent of the drunken pest who gets battered to the floor of the saloon by one punch, then staggers to his feet, and shouts at the other guy’s friends, “Ok, which one of you is next?”
Full transript here (via).

And there's more (via a comment by rick). And more. And more. And a bit more. I could go on but you probably get the picture.

And there are some British voices who have noticed too. Our old friend Con Coughlin is all for this escalation against Iran. Well, who would have thought it?

In a previous post, I suggested that Blair might understand that British involvement in attacks on Iran would be a step too far for him. I may have been over-optimistic. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that Blair is today making a speech on the need for continued support for American policy and stressing the need for British armed forces to "be war fighters" and for us to "pay the cost of that fight, whatever it may be".

Or perhaps it isn't.

By the way, Olbermann, for all that he's often bang on the money on Bush's many failings, made a rather grotesque claim in his special comment. A vista of 3,008 dead and 22,834 wounded in Iraq? I think you'll find the vista is far more littered with corpses than that, Keith. Or do only Americans count?


Blair said...

As I come from a long line of American cowboys, I have to say that calling this travesty of a president anything recalling the noble cowboy is a huge discredit to all cowboys... living and dead.

redpesto said...

Re. that Irbil raid: this post at Salon discusses whether it would constitute an act of war. Conclusiion: Only if Iran does it to the US:

Still, Kirgis said, [the Irbil raid] may not be the decisive stroke some have made it out to be, or at least not an "act of war," which is not a real term in international law anyway. Iran does have some options: It can protest -- which it has already done, to some degree, by calling in the ambassadors of Iraq and Switzerland, who serve as America's emissaries to Iran -- or it can claim the right of self-defense. If it does claim that right, though, any military response would need to be "proportional," Kirgis said.

Andy McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, sees the matter differently. In a post on the Corner, the conservative magazine National Review's blog, he lauded the raid as "welcome news," then wrote, "We would certainly regard [the raid] as an act of war if the tables were turned."

CuriousHamster said...

Sorry blair, it wasn't my intention to offend. Apparently, the modern popularity of this phrase is partly the fault of one Jean-Luc Picard. He used it to describe the actions of Ambassador Spock. Most illogical.

redpesto, thanks for that. The quote from the aptly named McCarthy would be extremely funny if it wasn't for the seriousness of the situation. Just about to write a wee post on that.

Tom said...

Grauniad's main leader today is on the Iran angle, so it's not totally ignored.

CuriousHamster said...

True Tom and the Independent covered it too. They both have small circulations though.

I really think this should be front page news and that TV news broadcasters should be giving this a lot more coverage. Bush may well have decided to set off down a path considerably more dangerous than the invasion of Iraq. Considering that possibility, the coverage has been pretty low key.

Tim said...

But surely the biased BBC...

Blair said...

please, I did not mean to criticize you, rather the idiot you were referring to.

CuriousHamster said...

blair, I did get that. :0) I was just looking for an excuse to mention that geeky Star Trek fact.