Saturday, July 30, 2005

Family Honor

Iran remains a threat as a rabid supporter of terrorism, with a president who has one of the students responsible for holding America hostage twenty-five years ago, and is pursuing nuclear-tipped missiles. I have to believe that President Bush is serious about stopping this Axis of Evil member. I cannot believe he has decided to just let this regime go on and simply cope with it defensively. On occasion, the president will make a statement in support of democracy in Iran but many proponents of dealing with Iran are upset the president doesn't do or say more. Like I said, I think the president will deal with Iran. But a family moral failing is at work here, I think.

In the discussion of whether America made a mistake in 1991 by halting in southern Iraq rather than driving on Baghdad to "finish the job" I can't say we made a mistake. Yes, it would have been nice if we had been able to knock of Saddam back then. But could we have? Saddam would have used the chemical weapons he still possessed. His regime may have fought in an insurrection even harder then than today. And the American people may not have supported casualties fighting in Iraq without the experience of 9-11 to motivate us to destroy enemies before they can do worse to us. Still, in 1991 the Iraqis would not have had the experience of evading sanctions and preparing for an insurrection that has allowed them to fight on after the fall of Baghdad. And the Shias would have been readier to actually rise up in support of our forces instead of being too worried we'd abandon them as they were in 2003.

The last factor is still relevant. In 1991, President Bush 41 urged the Kurds and Shias to rise up. The Shias were slaughtered for their troubles and we stood by and watched though we had forces there capable of stopping Saddam's thugs:

Summer 2004 — I had this conversation with a Shia translator. It was late in the evening– the early hours of the morning, actually. I’d put in a long, twenty hour day. I was walking to a latrine and saw the man standing there, smoking a cigarette and thinking. He’d had a long day, too. “Col Bay, I have a question for you. What do you do when you write a novel?” He’d seen a copy of my latest novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness.

I told him that the beginning of that book was a dilemma, and an ironic one, considering that I was back in uniform and serving in Iraq. “I know why we didn’t finish Desert Storm (in ‘91), but when the Republican Guard began slaughtering Shia farmers and killing the Kurds, and we sat–what’s the word? Moral torsion? A friend of mine was commanding a mech infantry battalion just south of one of those villages and he said they knew what was happening. They followed some of it on their field radios. Saw some smoke. He said it was the toughest thing he’d ever done as a soldier, to sit there as those thugs came back into those villages and committed murder.”

The translator’s eyes squeezed as he took a long draw on the cigarette. “Yes, that happened,” he said. “I am Shia.”

President Bush 43 lives with the knowledge that his father let the Shia of Iraq die in the tens of thousands rather than support them. I believe he will do something about Iran. Our Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be full next month. Perhaps even the Europeans are learning that Iran will not give up nukes. And we've had plenty of time to work on a plan to take advantage of the fact that Iranians hate their government and are favorable to the US.

But I believe that President Bush 43 does not wish to encourage a revolt until we are ready to intervene to prevent the Tehran regime from slaughtering the people in the streets as the mullahs will do. They are no Shah who will hold back at the critical moment and withhold the goons. Abandoning the Shias of Iraq is a stain on the Bush family and I do not believe Bush 43 wishes to continue that record with another group of Shias.

So as the fall approaches, if we are serious about ending the mullah regime threat and our preparations are complete, watch for administration talk to heat up. If it does, action is coming. I don't think we will make hollow threats or promises to the Iranian people.