"For Bush, or the neocons, or both, regime change in Iran not only may appear doable, it may also look like the only way out of the spectacular mess they have created in Iraq.Billmon is making way too much sense, here.
The logic is understandable, if malevolent. Instead of creating a secular, pro-American client state in the heart of the Middle East, the invasion of Iraq has destroyed the front-line Arab regime opposing Tehran, installed a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad and vastly increased Iranian influence, not only in Iraq, but throughout the Shi'a world. It's also moved the Revolutionary Guard one step closer to the Kuwaiti and Saudi oil fields – the prize upon which the energy security of the West depends.
By the traditional standards of U.S. foreign policy, this is a fiasco of almost unbelievable proportions. More to the point, the neocons may believe that unless they can do something dramatic to recoup those losses, they won't be able to safely withdraw large numbers of troops from Iraq, since they are A.) the only remaining source of U.S. influence in the country and B.) the only shield against Iranian infiltration of both Iraq and the Shi'a majority regions of Saudia Arabia and the Gulf emirates. Yet the military need for such a draw down becomes more critical with each passing day, as the all-volunteer Army is stretched towards its breaking point.
In other words, the administration, and the Pentagon, have gotten themselves into one hell of a jam – militarily, strategically and politically. As desperate and reckless as attempted regime change in Iran might seem to us, to the Cheneyites it may look like the only move left on the board.
Hersh suggests the neocons have convinced themselves that an air campaign against Iran would quickly lead to a popular rebellion and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Perhaps this is so, at least for the gullible and the ignorant among them (such as Bush.) Drowning men, after all, will clutch at straws.
a move against Iran might be preceded by a major troop drawdown in Iraq (which, if my analysis is correct, would itself make war with Iran a strategic necessity in the eyes of the neocons.) Or it may be that Rummy and the gang intend to push through another of their 'minimalist' invasion plans (which may be one reason the chorus of military complaints about Rummy has risen to a howl.) Either way, it should not be assumed that the neocons are going to act in a military rational way. That's not what the flucht nach vorne [flight forward] is all about.If Billmon is right, American Empire is about to flame out in record time.
If anything, the same goes double for our boy king. If the institutional temptation for the neocons to seek redemption in a flight forward is powerful, the psychological motivations for Bush may be overwhelming. In his story, Hersh refers to Bush's alleged desire to make "saving Iran" from the Shi'a Hitler his legacy. But saving Iraq from the Baathist Hitler was orginally supposed to be his legacy. This is doubling down on a historically grand scale.