Despite the fact that Dick Cheney's fingerprints are all over every bad decision the current administration has made, much like a wounded B-Movie monster he refuses to stay down. Rather, he continually rises up to add suspense to a story that's hardly been worth the price of admission.
Word on the street, the street being Pennsylvania Ave., is that the pendulum is swinging -- if it hasn't already swung -- from diplomatic engagement with Iran (favored by Condi Rice and Bob Gates) to military intervention (favored by guess who). A report in the Guardian says that Bush does not trust the next president -- Republican or Democratic -- to deal with Iran.
Bush doesn't trust the next guy (or gal)?
Look, there is no upside to a cat like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his ilk having "the bomb." And in the frame work of the global community Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is illegal, having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The sum of all that would be a case for war: mad men with nasty weapons.
But that was the case made for first-striking Iraq.
It goes without saying, this time around, a better perspective on the situation might be in order.
Starting with the populace of Iran, one our president -- and at times the MSM -- seems unfamiliar with.
There is a sizable, young, middle-class in Iran. Two out of three people are below the age of thirty. A huge percentage of the population doesn't even remember the Revolution. In a recent survey conducted by an American think tank, 88% of Iranians listed the economy as their greatest concern. Only 29% listed nuclear weapons. In other words, "young Iran" just wants stuff. "Stuff" being all the commercial goodies that capitalism has to offer. Suffice it to say stuff is hard to get when nearly half the 800,000 Iranians entering the workforce each year can't land a job.
There is a reason why Ahmadinejad was rebuffed in Iran's municipal elections last December.
There is a reason why an ease in gasoline subsidies lead to rioting in the streets.
The reason being that Ahmadinejad was not elected to rattle sabers, but rather to deal with bread and butter issues.
And they need to be dealt with.
For all of Iran's oil reserves -- it has the second largest in the world of both gas and oil -- its refining capabilities are for crap. Currently it imports nearly 40% of its refined product. Surreally, by 2015 Iran could actually have a negative oil flow. That, their economy, and those bread and butter issues which are at the fore for 88% of the population will not improve without Western economic intervention to which American currently controls access.
The people of Iran both need and want (to varying degrees) partnership with the west. Realistically, I do not believe we can merely carpet bomb Iran with Justin Timberlake videos and wait for their leaders to capitulate in the face of our youth oriented/consumer dominated society. And, anyway, it'll be at least three years before they can make a bomb, and we've already got tens of thousands of warheads. What exactly is the rush to destroy them? Is the president that desperate to wreak havoc before he's shipped back to Crawford?
I do, however, believe there is an opportunity to encourage (let's even call it manipulate) their transition from rouge state to strategic competitor. As is China. As is Russia. They are hardly our allies, but nor is there a great fear we will suddenly engage them in nuclear war.
Let's save that fear for where it needs to be placed: a rapidly destabilizing Pakistan.
And with one other rapidly destabilizing entity: Dick Cheney.
- BONUS MINI-BLOG -
In case you missed it:
President Bush was recently (July 20th) asked if he would pardon border patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos who were convicted to multi-year sentences in a controversial case.
Bush's response? No.
Why? "These men were convicted by a jury of their peers after listening to the facts."
Feel free to add your own Libby cracks in your responses.