Thursday, August 25, 2005
Iran in US gunsights
THE US is slipping deeper and deeper into the Iraq quagmire. There is little chance that the US would achieve its goal of institutionalising Iraq into a shape that suits American interests. The insurgency is gaining strength and it is also unlikely that the US military and allied forces would be able to beat it back and contain it into manageable confinements.
More than 1,800 American soldiers have died in action in Iraq, and more than 15,000 American soldiers have been maimed. Dozens of Iraqis are killed every day, adding to the tens of thousands who have already dead.
In summary, the US is fighting a losing war in Iraq.
Add to that the anti-war movement in the US that has found new impetus and is steadily gaining strength in its demand that the American soldiers in Iraq be recalled home. President George W Bush's popularity rating is in the range of 30 per cent and it is steadily declining.
Washington is not willing to accept these realities. US Bush has vowed to stay the course in Iraq.
There is no sign of an American exit strategy. The US cannot withdraw from Iraq without causing major chaos in the short term and a division of that country in the medium term. Its only option is to hang in there, hoping for a miracle to happen.
Effectively, the US is reliving Vietnam, but the Bush administration does not seem to have learnt the lesson its 1960s predecessors learnt in the Far East.
In the meantime, the US Army is planning for another four years of occupation of Iraq, clearly signalling that Washington has long-term military goals in the Middle East.
When all these elements are seen put together, the obvious conclusion is that these goals include military action against Iraq's neighbour Iran on the ground that the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons. All the signs are there, particularly the way Washington is summarily brushing aside all Iranian gestures and insisting that all options remain open, including the use of force, to resolve the perceived crisis. The world is reminded of the way Washington pressed ahead with its objective of invading Iraq, toppling Saddam Hussein and occupying that country.
Well, conventional wisdom says the US, ensnared as it is in Iraq, would shy away from similar action in Iran, but, given that Washington seems to think that the only way ahead is more war, the region is keeping its fingers crossed against any such misadventure.