A reader writes:
I mostly agree with your musing about Iran perhaps being the target of our disaster in Iraq.
I believe that Iran was the real target of the Bush-Cheney administration all along. Iraq was just a very good excuse. I believe they were looking toward Iran as soon as, or before, Bush announced "Mission Accomplished" on the aircraft carrier. To me there can be no other explanation for the disastrous way they began the occupation.
Cheney expected to put Chalabi in place, build a few bases to make it look like we were going to protect democracy and then fire up the propaganda machine for the invasion of Iran. They had the forces in place, the supply routes and ports in Kuwait, and a ready and eager public to support them. Unfortunately, they didn't plan on the insurgency. The result is the situation we are in now.
I can think of no other explanation for their "incompetence". These are not dumb people. (With one obvious exception.) They believe there is no limit to their power, that the world, and in particular the oil rich Middle East, needs to be controlled, and from Cheney's point of view we need to teach the mullahs a lesson after the hostage crisis in 1979. The man has a long memory and doesn't fail to act.
I predict that once the surge is approved and the additional money is appropriated you will see an increase in the rhetoric about Iran. Bush and Cheney had a 7 year time frame to deal with Iran after 9/11. The mess in Iraq has slowed them down, but hasn't stopped the war drums. I think Bush still holds out hope that a neo-conservative Republican (is there anything else nowadays) will be elected in 2008. Whoever that may be is likely to find Iraq the least of their problems. The disaster in Iran will keep them more than occupied.
Remember, Bush and Cheney have never worried about accountability. It doesn't matter to them that someone else will have to clean up after them. If there is a chance to make a profit for their friends, demonstrate how "tough" they are, and show the world that you don't mess with America, while extending democracy, they will take it.
I'm not sure it was all that closely worked out in advance. But it may be Cheney's best improvisation after the success of the Iraq insurgency, especially if Bush can now tie that insurgency to Iran (after the link to al Qaeda has done the work required by it at home).