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Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

Bush Issues Fatwa Against Iran

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I truly believed that President George W. Bush was at least going to announce that Condi Rice was going on a shoe-buying tour of Tehran and Damascus, and I was also fully confident such a "diplomatic" trip would have been just another Karen Hughes-type PR campaign. If Bush were a sane person he would have taken the simple Karl Rovian step of an opening of negotiations, heeded that one tiny piece of the Baker-Hamilton study, and taken a little wind out of the war opposition's sails. (The mainstream media would have given him great press for it.)

Instead, Bush issued a fatwa against Iran and Syria. He is sending in an armed-to-the-teeth carrier group into the Persian Gulf and he is escalating the war in Iraq. Bush is pursuing Richard Nixon's Cambodia strategy: escalate and expand the war and try to "win" it. He'll probably ratchet up the air war too just as Nixon did.

The net-roots organization, the "World Can't Wait" (worldcantwait.org), which has been calling for Bush's removal from office for years, just got a shot in the arm with Bush's bellicose and insane speech tonight. Bush must be removed from office before he ignites a global catastrophe.

If Bush sparks a "Gulf of Tonkin incident" in the Persian Gulf, and gets us into a shooting war with Iran, or launches air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, he could easily create the conditions for the outbreak of a regional war, or even something we might call World War III.

Bush's speech tonight showed that he is a Neo-Con, right-wing Christian fundamentalist. He has not a clue about what is going on in Baghdad. He spoke of "neighborhoods" being secured and U.S. "check points" being set up. He talked of an attempt to block arms and other supplies coming from Iran. He will follow not one of his "Uncle Jim" Baker's suggestions; he's still rebelling against his daddy. Bush was speaking about Al-Maliki as if he is really going to move against the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr. A thousands times, Bush showed in this speech tonight that he is completely out of touch with reality. Bush has drunk the Kool-Aid, there is no turning back. His messianic fantasies about the Middle East were on display for the all world to see.

Kudos to Keith Olberman for latching on to Bush's statements about the U.S. stance toward Iran and Syria; that was the most important revelation of the speech tonight: Bush appears to be threatening a regional war. Arianna Huffington deserves our gratitude for a clear and forceful performance on Joe Scarborough's show. And even Chris Matthews did an adequate job following Olberman's lead on the Iran and Syria issue. The Democrats in Congress must stop this madness before Bush leads the United States and the world into an even bigger bloodbath in the Middle East, one that could make Baghdad look like -- to quote neo-con Kenneth Adelman -- a "cake walk."