There was something interesting missing from Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner's introductory remarks to journalists at his regular news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday: the word "Iran," or any form of it. It was especially striking as Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman here, announced the extraordinary list of weapons and munitions that have been uncovered in recent weeks since fighting erupted between Iraqi and U.S. security forces and Shiite militiamen.The omission is creepily un-reassuring. Further:
A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin.
Last week the US military reported finding "very, very significant" amounts of Iranian arms during the offensives in Basra and Baghdad. We're waiting. Of course, even the excuse used above raises the unsettling suspicion that Iraqis are being encouraged to "find" Iranian weapons.
Evidence given to last week's United Iraqi Alliance delegation to Iran remains secret, and while US media reports characterized the visit, with much encouragement from the administration and the US command, as a confrontation, the Iraqi account of the the delegation's purpose substantively differs. The US finds itself in the dubious position of fostering hostility between Iraq and Iran, to preserve the occupation. In fact, with all the hedging Iran is doing, supporting various Shi'ite factions and engaging in the sort of development that was to be a centerpiece of US efforts, it's not certain the net effect of its involvement is negative--for Iraq's stability.
If not for the administration's previous and unrelenting hostility toward Iran, it might be arguing, if privately, that widening the war is dubious strategy, regardless of Iranian involvement. Despite aerial strikes on Quds force traininig camps that will be the loudly stated reasons for the coming escalation, it's hard not to conclude that our purpose will be to destroy Iran's nuclear program, a purpose predating the war, and it will be done to the detriment of the war effort, and those charged with it.