Once again, Tony Karon of Rootless Cosmopolitan has one of the smartest first takes on Bush’s Iraq speech:
The Baker Group understood that the only way to salvage anything in Iraq was through a new political deal concluded among Iraq’s major players, and its key neighbors — and that meant acknowledging and accommodating Iran’s considerable legitimate interests in Iraq. Plainly, though, that’s hard to do if you’re planning to attack Iran. And by using the speech announcing his troop surge in Iraq to also announce the deployment of a new carrier strike force and patriot missile batteries into the region (neither of which have any relevance to counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq), Bush clearly wanted to signal Iran that the U.S. is preparing to attack.
So, essentially we’re now being asked to believe that the Iraqi government, dominated by Iran-friendly Shiite religious parties, is going to act in concert with Bush’s plan — and even Bush admitted that their support is the critical factor — giving U.S. forces the green light to take control of Sadr City from the Sadrists and so on, even as Washington moves its assets into position for a military strike on Iran. It may be, of course, that Washington is posturing in order to sweat Tehran into believing that a military strike is coming in order to intimidate the Islamic Republic into backing down, but frankly I wouldn’t bet on the collective strategic wisdom of Cheney-Rice and Khamenei-Larijani-Ahmedinajad combining to avoid a confrontation. And if the U.S. is raising the stakes, you can reliably expect Iran to do the same, probably starting in Iraq.
Read the whole thing here; and, of course, if any administration officials are reading this, the smartest thing you could do is put Mr. Karon in charge of saving Iraq…