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March 6, 2006
Iran Gives US A Casus Belli, If We Want It

ABC News reports tonight that Iran has shipped improved explosive devices capable of defeating the body armor employed by US soldiers to the insurgents in Iraq. Brian Ross will tell ABC's World News Tonight that Iran is "knowingly killing US troops", according to former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke:

U.S. military and intelligence officials tell ABC News that they have caught shipments of deadly new bombs at the Iran-Iraq border.

They are a very nasty piece of business, capable of penetrating U.S. troops' strongest armor.

What the United States says links them to Iran are tell-tale manufacturing signatures -- certain types of machine-shop welds and material indicating they are built by the same bomb factory.

"The signature is the same because they are exactly the same in production," said explosives expert Kevin Berry. "So it's the same make and model."

U.S. officials say roadside bomb attacks against American forces in Iraq have become much more deadly as more and more of the Iran-designed and -produced bombs have been smuggled in from the country since last October.

"I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border and they are killing U.S. troops once they get there," said Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and an ABC News consultant. "I think it's very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops."

If this can be substantiated, it will present the Bush administration with a casus belli that opens up both a can of worms and a wide range of options that may have been out of reach before this.

The bad news is that the US military has a lot on its plate right now, attempting to train the Iraqi army quickly enough to start drawing down troops by the end of the year, when domestic politics demands that some real progress be shown. Attempting to broaden the conflict at this point towards Iran can complicate that effort, especially in regards to Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, with its heavy inclination towards Teheran. The bombing in Samarra made tensions escalate enough in Baghdad; an attack on Sadr's client could either cow him into submission or cause him to erupt in an attempt to draw American fire from Iran.

Also, after the political warfare at home for the past three years, the conclusions of intelligence experts will not likly carry much weight when it comes to another casus belli. The virulent anti-war movement may get stronger with another expedition of American force. That impulse will multiply if the White House lacks allies for the fight, and right now it doesn't look very good for convincing Europe to target Iran for any reason. We may hang onto Britain and Australia and a few Eastern European countries for diplomatic support, but that will probably be the extent.

However, this does open more options, as I said earlier. For one thing, the Democrats have used Iran to attempt a flanking maneuver on the right of the GOP, arguing for tough measure against Iran, up to the use of force. Now that Iran has been revealed as a major supplier of the IEDs that have killed and maimed our soldiers, they will not easily back away from their earlier hawkish positions. Also, Bush does not have to mount a full-scale invasion in order to get the point across. Bush could try a range of military actions in response, from targeted bombings on industrial plants that make the materials used, to a pre-emptive strike wiping out Iran's air defenses. It could -- and should -- include massive strikes against known nuclear-research facilities.

If this turns out to be correct, Bush has to act against Teheran regardless of the EU's position. The US cannot ignore provocations from a nation that directly results in our soldiers being attacked and killed.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 6, 2006 5:55 PM

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» Iran, Iran So Far Away from Decision '08
Wow, that’s about the 400th time that joke’s been pulled, eh? Nevertheless, Iran is on my brain. It’s quite worrisome. Captain Ed spotlights an ABC News report that gives us a pretty glaring casus belli, should there be any doubts... [Read More]

Tracked on March 6, 2006 8:53 PM


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