Friday, January 05, 2007

Our President Doesn't Like 'Small Ball'

We and the Iraqis are going to begin a campaign against Sadr's militia long before we surge troops to Iraq:

Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops will begin a neighborhood-by-neighborhood assault on militants in the capital this weekend as a first step in the new White House strategy to contain Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads, key advisers to the prime minister said Friday.

This follows on our quiet campaign that has already begun. Clearly, we don't think we need a surge to take them on. This is what I judged was possible with existing strength absent a full uprising of all the militia that we think are out there.

Yet we are going to surge according to the current speculation. So I guess the surge won't be to take down the militias.

I go back to an early speculation about what we might want to do on the eve of an assault on Iran (either revolution or air campaign against nuclear targets). Regarding Sadr's profession of loyalty to Iran, I wrote:

Besides raising the question I've asked repeatedly since 2003 of why this man is still alive, it raises the possibility that Iran could indeed make mischief in Iraq if we attack Iran. Sadr will do his masters' bidding when the time comes.

Of course, we know this already. And if we are planning to attack Iran it would actually make sense to leave Sadr and his people in place, compile lists of people and arms caches at his disposal, and then wait until the eve of action to then kill or arrest them all at once. This would disrupt Iran's ability to raise the ante in Iraq and prevent the Iranians from building a new network that we don't know about to replace Sadr.

Could we be on the eve of offensive action against Iran? Consider recent events.

So Negroponte spent two years at DCI and now will go to State. Did he oversee the plans for a revolt in Iran? And is now moving to state to be able to take our case to the world when it erupts and we support it? This would avoid the need to brief somebody at State who might leak it to derail it.

And do we have an admiral--who was a pilot--going to command CENTCOM because we will launch an air campaign from land bases and the sea to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and other targets in a thorough air campaign?

Will the troops not needed for dealing with Sadr yet surging to Iraq anyway be a defensive shield inside Iraq to blunt an Iranian counter-attack into Iraq and possible Kuwait?

Is the quote by Chirac in the article disparaging our Iraq fight just playing to the crowd to hide French participation with aircraft based in Afghanistan? France does seem to be moving toward us of late. I mean, really, do the French really think their suburbs erupted because of Iraq? Surely they can't be that deluded.

And I retain hope that President Bush has a sense of duty to end the Iran threat before his second term ends.

Then I remember that we did give the Europeans time to try diplomacy with Iran and that seems dead since the Fall of 2006. The implicit deal seemed to be that we'd try their way and if it didn't work, they'd support our way.

And I recall the meeting between Bush and Blair last summer that made me think they'd decided to take down Iran.

I'm connecting lots of dots here, I know. There is a fine line between insight and paranoia. I think I keep on the right side of that line.

But then I remember something about our president: President Bush rather famously does not like 'small ball'--working for small goals.

Is the President about to swing for the bleachers?

UPDATE: Ralph Peters (tip to Real Clear Politics) thinks we are looking at Iran, too:

ASSIGNING a Navy avia tor and combat veteran to oversee our military operations in the Persian Gulf makes perfect sense when seen as a preparatory step for striking Iran's nuclear-weapons facilities - if that becomes necessary.

While the Air Force would deliver the heaviest tonnage of ordnance in a campaign to frustrate Tehran's quest for nukes, the toughest strategic missions would fall to our Navy. Iran would seek to retaliate asymmetrically by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz - and trying to hit oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates.

And he reminded me of another dot I'd mentioned before but forgot for this post, that another carrier battle group is heading for the region.