The Washington Post reports that President Bush has authorized a shoot on site policy for Iranian agents in Iraq. Iran and Iraq are neiboring friendly countries. Not just a little friendly but very very friendly, since most of those now in power in Iraq spent their exile in Teheran and the others were informally allied with Iran for years.
It is perfectly normal that Iranian agents are in Iraq, for example, as guests of the most powerful elected leaders of Iraq. Obviously, I mean that literally. The new policy has not been implemented on the ground. So far, US forces have restricted themeselves to arresting (kidnapping?) house guests of a guy who visited Bush in the White House not to mention the personel of a not yet official consular office to be.
Fortunately, sane people in the US government have decided to make Bush's insanity public knowledge. Also, so far, the military has declined to act on the authorisation to kill Iranian agents in Iraq, because they know such a move is completely totally absolutely insane.
Just for a second, try to imagine this from the point of view of international law. Officially, Iraq is a sovereign country, so the decision of which intelligence agents are allowed in Iraq, is, in theory, to be made by the Iraqi government. As a matter of law, George Bush has not more authority to decide who can be in Iraq than I do. As a matter of law, it is as if Iran authorised its military to kill CIA agents who had infiltrated the UK even if, sorry especially if, they were there on the express invitation of say Clair Short and were working with MI 5.
The legal justification of the clearly criminal order displays typical Bush administration contempt for the basic concepts of law and of objective truth The legal justification of the clearly criminal order
But in response to questions about the "kill or capture" authorization, Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the NSC, said: "The president has made clear for some time that we will take the steps necessary to protect Americans on the ground in Iraq and disrupt activity that could lead to their harm. Our forces have standing authority, consistent with the mandate of the U.N. Security Council."
Note that the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi government would normally be considered to change the UN Security Council mandate. That is, any normal person would consider the Security Council resolution null now that there is a new sovereigh government of Iraq. However, the still shocking aspect of the legal reasoning is the preventive execution without trial aspect that the President can order someone shot on sight if the person engages in "activity that could lead to their harm." In this case, it means support of the parties allied with the US army in Iraq and with personal of the health (Sadr organisation) and Interior (SCIRI) ministries.
The rational for the policy is that if Iran is pressed in Iraq they might give up their nuclear ambitions. This is the reducto ad absurdum of the Bush doctrine that if we kill some people their co nationals will magically do what we want. The reasoning is pure wish fulfilment. It would be a vast improvement if Bush followed my approach (of wishing on a falling star) which at least as effective and much less bloody.
It is obvously unwise for the US to confront Iran in Iraq where they have many well armed allies and we have none. This is a semi proxy war in which US citizens fight non Iranians who would be glad to kill us if the Iranians ask. Such Iraqis are those who are most nearly our friends. Those which control the US supported governement.
I was particularly struck by the truly psychotic effort to suggest that Iran is supporting both sides in the civil war in Iraq. They are crazy, but they are not that crazy (obviously George W. Bush assumes, as we all do, that he is sane and imagines that other people are as bloodthirsty and idiotic as he is).
The feeble rhetorical strategy is an equivocation based on the ambiguous word "insurgent" which is used to refer to the Mahdi army (which is hardly insurgent since it is the military wing of the largest party in the governing coalition part of the Iraqi governing coalition). For all I know, it also refers to the Badr organisation, the military wing of the party with the second largest parliamentary delegation. Maybe also to the militia of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan lead by the President of Iraq who is a long time ally of Iran.
R. Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, said in an interview in late October that the United States knows that Iran "is providing support to Hezbollah and Hamas and supporting insurgent groups in Iraq that have posed a problem for our military forces."
Normal sane people use the word "insurgent" to refer to the Sunni insurgency (largely secular in orientation) that is exactly to those who are fighting the coalition forces and the current pro Iranian government of Iraq. It makes no sense to refer to both sides fighting a civil war with the same word just as it makes no sense to refer to death squads serving the government as insurgents.
If the new policy is implemented, it will be the US armed forces who help the armed insurgency against the US and Iranian supported government.
Now the Post is being the Post, Dafna Linzer carefully refrains from asking Burns which insurgents he is talking about. She herself invents a bizarre category "Shiite militias connected to the Iraqi government, to the insurgency and to the violence against Sunni factions." What Shi'ite faction is connected to the insurgency ? Certainly not the Mahdi army. They are not insurgents, they are in power.
See post above.