I’m going to take a bit of a break from the economic front to put on my Jeff Huber hat.  If you’re not reading his blog or his BMT Diary you’re missing out on some of the best military analysis around.  Me, I’m not Jeff, but like the Commander I think Iran is a major issue right now, and speaking for myself, I think it’s more vital than ever that we recognize it as such.

The recent House special election losses in deep red districts that the GOP has suffered recently shows that they are in a staggering amount of trouble.  BooMan senses as many as 12 pickups in the Senate for the Dems and a jaw-dropping 75+ GOP House seats in trouble of flipping over.  300 is not totally out of the question.

Which is why I’m more convinced than ever that Bush will play the Iran card.
His trip to the Middle East this week has been a joke.  The Saudis told him to fuck off, giving him a slap in the face and agreeing to raise oil production by a pittance.  Oil promptly went up by $2 a barrel to a record close as a result of the lowest consumer confidence numbers in a generation.

The petulant l’enfant terrible has been told to sit the hell down and shut the hell up.  He no longer matters to the world, the media, or the American people, and his party is on the verge of becoming a dark footnote in 21st century American history.

This has been about the worst week in years for the Bush Administration.  The world is eagerly looking forward to January 20, 2009 with all the anticipation of the FIFA World Cup multiplied by the Olympics.

But the machinery is now in motion.  First Cheney, now Bush have gone abroad to the same region.  Things are getting dicey in the region, and the “blame Iran” movement is growing.  Bush’s real reason for being in Israel was to make it clear what is coming.

President Bush’s historic speech to the Israeli parliament was as telling for what it didn’t say as for what it did.

In 22 minutes, Bush offered one of the strongest demonstrations of support for Israel ever made by an American president. And he reawakened lingering hopes among hawks in Israel or the United States for a U.S. military strike to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.

Israel’s Army Radio reported Friday that the possibility of an American strike on Iran was raised in private discussions during Bush’s visit.

And Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said that the Israeli prime minister and American president were “on the same page” on the issue of Iran.

“Both Israel and the United States agree that tangible steps have to be taken, that we cannot sit idly by and see Iran develop a nuclear weapon and that the international community has an obligation to take tangible steps to prevent that from happening,” said Regev.

The GOP should be in a state of panic right now, and yet they are not.  They are still maddenly full of supreme confidence, and still making idiotic statements, the same kind that got them (and us) into this mess.  What do they know that we don’t?

Bush has a window now to redefine the entire landscape and take control of the world narrative by making a strike on Iran.  The only thing we lack is a casus bellum because, ironically, the Iraqi government is doing everything it can to stall the coming war.

The Bush administration and top Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus had plotted a sequence of events that would build domestic US political support for a possible strike against Iran over its “meddling” in Iraq and especially its alleged export of arms to Shiite militias.

The plan was keyed to a briefing document to be prepared by Petraeus on the alleged Iranian role in arming and training Shiite militias that would be surfaced publicly after the al-Maliki government had endorsed it and it used to accuse Iran publicly.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told reporters on Apr. 25 that Petraeus was preparing a briefing to be given “in the next couple of weeks” that would provide detailed evidence of “just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability.” The centerpiece of the Petraeus document, completed in late April, was the claim that arms captured in Basra bore 2008 manufacture dates on them.

US officials also planned to display Iranian weapons captured in both Basra and Karbala to reporters. That sequence of media events would fill the airwaves with spectacular news framing Iran as the culprit in Iraq for several days, aimed at breaking down Congressional and public resistance to the idea that Iranian bases supporting the meddling would have to be attacked.

But events in Iraq diverged from the plan. On May 4, after an Iraqi delegation had returned from meetings in Iran, al-Maliki’s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said in a news conference that al-Maliki was forming his own Cabinet committee to investigate the US claims. “We want to find tangible information and not information based on speculation,” he said.

Another adviser to al-Maliki, Haider Abadi, told the Los Angeles Times’ Alexandra Zavis that Iranian officials had given the delegation evidence disproving the charges. “For us to be impartial, we have to investigate,” Abadi said.

Al-Dabbagh made it clear that the government considered the US evidence of Iranian government arms smuggling insufficient. “The proof we have is weapons which are shown to have been made in Iran,” al-Dabbagh said in a separate interview with Reuters. “We want to trace back how they reached [Iraq], who is using them, where are they getting it.”

Senior US military officials were clearly furious with al-Maliki for backtracking on the issue. “We were blindsided by this,” one of them told Zavis.

The al-Maliki government is in a brutally precarious position.  They cannot survive without direct US protection and yet they are vital to give the attack on Iran the cover of false  legitimacy that is must have at this point to sell to the American people.  Yet they are standing up for peace.  They hate Bush that much at this point, to risk his wrath openly and to deviate from the script.  But for how long?

Eventually Bush will have no choice but to pull the trigger.  Clearly the calculus has been done at this point, attacking Iran is a better fate for the Republican’s political fortunes than not, even as suicidal as it seems, it’s better than awaiting the wrath of the voters.  Not even the GOP can steal the election with the kind of margins that put Travis Childers in the House from MS-01.

The GOP is a cornered badger right now.  The Primary Season That Will Not Die(tm) is giving them the cover they need to orchestrate the coming attack.  I truly, personally believe that the decision has been made and that Bush, Cheney, and the rest think there is nothing left to lose at this point.  The GOP is in for becoming the minority party in this country for decades.

History will prove them wrong, of course.  America has much more to lose.  But that will not stop them.

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