In a TMV comment this morning, I said:
Just at this moment in time [..], indications are that leaving Iraq will result in regional war and wholesale slaughter. I have no faith, but I can hope, that time — however much we can gain — will bring different scenarios.
Evidently, things were shifting even as I wrote that. From WaPo:
The IRNA report said that U.S. forces entered the Iranian consulate in Irbil, in Iraq’s Kurdish-dominated north, and seized computers, documents and other items. The report said five staff members were taken into custody.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry appealed to the Iraqi government to obtain the release of its personnel.
U.S. officials have not confirmed the raid but did say in a press release that they had taken six people into custody in Irbil during the course of “routine security operations.” The release said the individuals were “suspected of being closely tied” to attacks on Iraqi and U.S. forces.
This is not a minor event. A nation’s embassy is considered an extension of itself — as sovereign and inviolate as its own borders — and while I suppose it’s remotely possible that the Iranians will choose to interpret a violation of this magnitude benignly, I doubt it.
[Added: Yes, it’s a consulate and not an embassy. I think I’m guilty of mentally associating the terms Iran and embassy — probably a function of my age.]
And who, exactly, conducted this raid? It would be very bad news if the Iraqis were also involved… but it’s worse if they weren’t.
Expecting that scenarios would change, and knowing that the situation is profoundly unstable, does not mean I wasn’t hoping for something better than this.
If there was a “tell” in Bush’s speech last night, it was the buried news that Bush is sending Patriot missile defense units to the region. The insurgents in Iraq don’t have long-range missiles.
But Iran does.
20,000 troops isn’t much of a surge, but outright war with Iran would bring things to entirely different level.
Maybe I’m over-reading the situation, but just at the moment, this is incredibly scary.
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More thoughts and reaction via memeorandum, here.