I have blogged about this possibility before. The gist was: if Iran has always been the real target and Iraqi democracy is doomed and was always mostly bullshit anyway--then what American Imperialists will decide to do is join the Sunnis against the Shia in the broader Middle East as Iraq falls apart. That would have been the fallback position all along. It would mean that longstanding ties with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan would be reaffirmed and reinforced. Bush and his boys and girl would have to eat a little crow behind the scenes but those old Arab autocrats would enjoy that. They would nod wisely and forgive the American innocents their naive experiment and offer an oil-drenched handshake in exchange for zillions more in advanced weaponry. They would seal the deal by getting serious about bringing bin Laden down. He's their enemy too, after all--and compared to Shia Iran and its growing network of allies, the splinter group that is Sunni Al Queda is actually peanuts.
That's been my speculation. I've got it classified it in my mind as semi-paranoid, but recent developments give me pause:
1) The Brits withdraw from Basra in what looks like a good old fashioned draw play. Isn't that retreat inviting Iraq to move more obviously into the Shia south?
2) Everybody's ganging up on Maliki now, including clueless stooges in the Democratic party. Is this, in effect, making room for Shia leaders more closely allied with Iran to replace Maliki?
3) All the wise men (plus Hillary) are cooing about how we can "redeploy" to bases in the Kurdish north, apparently a pro-American heaven/haven.
4) Bush lands in Anbar this morning to cement the US commitment to Sunni "tribal leaders" who are now killing Al Queda instead of us. Who are those leaders? A lot of them are former Saddamists, no doubt, and the rest of them are surely in touch with the Saudis, Egyptians and etc. One things for sure: they hate the Shia.
Pretend you're playing Risk or something. Look at those developments and then imagine bombing Iran in concert with those developments coming to a head. Suddenly you are looking at a map in which a bomb-blasted Iranian military gets to extend into the Shia south--but the net effect is a clear line of battle drawn between them and the Sunni west and Kurdish north, both of now firmly allied with the US and backed by the Sunni states and maybe even, at least eventually, the Sunni masses.
This is an insane idea, of course--but so what? Look who's in charge.