Today in a speech to the VFW convention in Reno, Nevada, President Bush may have again talked tough about Iran and their nuclear program. And new French President Nicolas Sarkozy even hinted at a possible Western attack against Iran's nuclear program. But it was a counter speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that flexed some real muscle in the Mideast geopolitical contest for power.
Ahmadinejad made it clear that the Bush policies in Iraq have so de-stablized the nation, and that the government in Iraq is a nearly nonexistent "power vacuum", and that Tehran is more than ready to pick up the pieces very soon as the American role is likely to soon collapse in Iraq.
This is the problem. Bush or other world leaders may talk tough about Iran, but so far Tehran has little to worry about mere saber-rattling talk with no real intent of action to back it up. And despite a terrible economy in Iran due to the inept administration of Ahmadinejad, Tehran still is nearly certain to fill the power vacuum in Iraq very soon. The American public is getting tired of the security situation in Iraq and the continued U.S. deaths. And instead of a real government in Iraq, only competing groups of sectarian religious groups and militias jockey for the real power in the country, in an anarchic situation similar to a larger-scale 1980's Lebanon. With Iran next door, there is little way to keep them out of Iraq or from using Iraq's Shiite allies to grab some power in the country or part of the immense oil wealth of the nation.
Iran all too well knows how to read the real limitations on American power in Iraq. They know that Bush is highly unlikely to take any real action against Tehran over their nuclear program because of the war in Iraq which has ruined any domestic support for the preemptive use of American military force for some years to come. Tehran also knows that American troops will soon be leaving Iraq, one way or another. Like a shark smelling blood in the water, Ahmadinejad cannot help but be pleased where the Iraq situation is headed. Ahmadinejad needs this success because he was losing support at home and with the religious leaders of his nation. Making Iraq a near satellite of Iran will certainly strengthen Ahmadinejad's questionable grip on Iranian political power and make him the major Mideast power broker in the region, giving Iran control of both sides of the narrow Strait Of Hormuz oil shipping seaway as well as access to Iraq's oil.
Bush raised the stakes way too high in the Iraq misadventure, and set the situation up to fall into a terrible failure by failing the understand the important caution that needs to follow careful foreign policy decisions. Now Iran is in the driver seat to pick up the pieces in Iraq unless Bush can make an unlikely case for a crisis to rally American support for military action against Iran But after Iraq, that is highly unlikely.
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