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August 15, 2007

A Terrorist Is Who We Say It Is

The Bush administration is taking the extraordinary -- and unsettling -- step of naming a sanctioned armed force of a sovereign country a terrorist group. The designation is going to the Ahmadinejad-allied Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which receives a host of independent funding from outside sources, and which can now be targeted financially by the Bush administration. In other words, this is an intermediary -- and inflammatory -- step towards much tougher, more intrusive sanctions meant to target a key element of the Iranian state. Joe Cirincione, an expert on nuclear proliferation, comments:

It would tie an end to Iran's nuclear program to an end to its support of allies in Hezbollah and Hamas. The only way you could get a nuclear deal is as part of a grand bargain, which at this point is completely out of reach.[...]

Sanctions can serve as a prod, but they have very rarely forced a country to capitulate or collapse. All of us want to back Iran into a corner, but we want to give them a way out, too. [The designation] will convince many in Iran's elite that there's no point in talking with us and that the only thing that will satisfy us is regime change.

I don't know how much likelier this makes war, but it certainly doesn't render it less likely, and it's hard to imagine the causal chain wherein the angered Iranian Revolutionary Guard doesn't create a self-fulfilling prophecy and begin increasing strikes at American interests within Iraq, if they haven't already.

August 15, 2007 | Permalink


The only good thing you can say about this administration's handling of Iran is that we're not at with them...yet.

Posted by: ice weasel | Aug 15, 2007 8:36:01 AM

So Iran is a terrorist state, and we're working with Iran in Afghanistan. We're allied with terrorists. Time to invade and occupy ourselves. Should be cheaper, at least.

Posted by: davidmizner | Aug 15, 2007 9:13:40 AM

So far the only "evidence" that Iran is doing anything - at all - in Iraq comes from the U.S. government. The U.S. government has the means, motive and opportunity to lie about this. To my mind, the statement "Iran is engaging in terrorist activities in Iraq" is about as true as "there is a small sentient tea kettle in orbit around Mars".

Both may be true, but almost certainly aren't.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 15, 2007 9:24:02 AM

Any person who continues to support the Democratic party if they allow a war with Iran deserves to burn in hell for all eternity. At some point "More and netter Democrats!" has to be admitted to be bullshit if it turns out to be bullshit. Refusing to hold people accountable makes us no better than the Republicans.

Posted by: soullite | Aug 15, 2007 9:24:41 AM

In about 1989 an author in the Nation said she realized there would be a Balkan war when she visited her Serbian grandmother and found the old lady had stockpiled several hundred pounds of salt.

It's time to buy some salt. And some iodine tablets.

Posted by: serial catowner | Aug 15, 2007 9:59:42 AM

Any person who stays home in 2008 or votes for a third party rather than voting for the Democrat deserves to burn in hell for all eternity when the new Republican president attacks Iran. We already went through this in 2000, and anyone who thinks Gore would have invaded Iraq is not part of the reality-based community.

Certainly at some point "More and better Democrats!" has to be abandoned if it's not working. That doesn't mean we give up after a single election in which we managed to get a narrow majority dependent on Lieberman and Blue Dogs. Reforming the Democratic Party is a long-term and difficult process, just as the wacko takeover of the Republican Party was. There will be setbacks. Moving to Canada, voting for Nader, or ranting on the street corner doesn't help the situation.

Even if half the Democrats are worthless, the party is still preferable to the one where 99% are worthless. And until the system is magically reformed, those two parties are the only options, regardless of how frustrating that is.

Posted by: KCinDC | Aug 15, 2007 10:02:15 AM

I also presume it means that any Revolutionary Guards captured in Iraq or Afghanistan now fall under Gitmo rules. Permament detention, torture, no Red Cross, etc. IIRC, America is holding some Iranians under such conditions.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Aug 15, 2007 11:30:37 AM

bob, I think that's the major reason for the declaration. There's been a lot of effort spent recently -- FISA, e.g. -- retrospectively un-shitting the bed, and this is all of a piece with it.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina | Aug 15, 2007 12:10:55 PM

As I'm sure you've seen via Atrios, Will Bunch makes a prima facie convincing case that this is actually the legal pretext for attacking Iran:


Posted by: tinman | Aug 15, 2007 2:17:29 PM

"Even if half the Democrats are worthless, the party is still preferable to the one where 99% are worthless. And until the system is magically reformed, those two parties are the only options, regardless of how frustrating that is." KCinDC

If you want out of the war and to send a message to the Republican base, register republican and vote Ron Paul in the primary. You can then vote democrat in the election and but a double smack down on Washington.

Posted by: Hope | Aug 15, 2007 10:53:03 PM

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