Matthew Yglesias says:
[T]he president keeps insisting that one of his long-term goals in Iraq is to overthrow the governments of two of Iraq's neighbors. So--surprise!--they try to undermine his policies. And then the administration turns around and whines about it, before deciding down the road that he should once again re-iterate his goal of toppling the regimes.Matt's basically correct here, although a little generous in the terminology department. Policies? I do, however, think it remains debatable that the Iranians are actively and specifically working to undermine the dauphin's excellent adventure. When Mahmuod Ahmedinejad says that if Iran wanted to fuck us in Iraq, Iran'd fuck us in Iraq with all the tendresse of Rick Santorum sodomizing a tranny hooker (10 Thick Reasons to Call!) in a Hotel 8, I think we ought to take him at his word, not because he evinces honesty, but because the statement soi-même is so palpably true. While the attention of our newstalkers turns to the likes of Moqtada al-Sadr and other metonymic stand-ins for the various sectarian militia groups making like Indochine on the day Pyle fell in love with Phuong, there remains a gentleman named Ali al-Sistani who's lately kept his trap shut to the clear benefit of our efforts, such as they are, in Iraq, and I do use the word benefit self-consciously. There's a lot of wind-making lately about just how badly Iraq is going. I've engaged in it myself. But to some degree, the rose-tinted right wing is right indeed: as hybrid insurgency-civil wars go, Iraq could be going much, much worse. (Of course, the war-porn division draws the conclusion that so long as things could be worse, things are going well, which is like the old joke: "So I says to the guy: 'My wife's cheatin' on me, my dog got run over, I got a rash on my ass the size of my hand, and my kids are takin' all my money. But you know me, I can't complain.'")
It's another example of the immense, swollen Me that is America: to presume that our acts and intentions are the sun around which all things in Iraq orbit. But while we're the proximate cause of plenty of misery and conflict there, it's an error of cultural egocentrism to suppose that whatever actions Iran takes in Iraq are taken in direct response to what we Americans fancifully call our policy in the region. Iraq isn't a stage drama, and Iran isn't a mere foil to America. It's a complex nation with its own largely mysterious desires vis-à-vis its neighbor, and in pursuit of its own policies it sometimes props, sometimes undermines, and sometimes entirely avoids the United States' own projects there.
Meanwhile back in Kansas, putative liberal columnists make hay that the Grand Ayatollah and his (sic) Shiites are insufficiently gratefuly to "the world's most powerful nation--a country that has generously sent 140,000 of its finest sons and daughters to fight, suffer and die to free Iraq from the Baathist grip." Which raises the serious question of just how much psilocybin they've got in the drinking water down in the District? Because it appears to we provincials that they ran out of activated charcoal and started purifying their water by passing it directly through cakes of dried magic mushrooms. I begin to suspect these guys would bitch that the Arawak never properly thanked the Euros for all the blankets.