Discover your inner supreme leader

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images It turns out that President Bush’s speech last night didn’t, for the most part, focus on Iran. And the parts that did focus on Iran gave little hint as to U.S. intentions, unlike Bush’s August 28 speech to the American Legion. Interestingly, Iran seems to have temporarily withdrawn its special operatives from ...

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599371_070914_iran_05.jpg

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

It turns out that President Bush's speech last night didn't, for the most part, focus on Iran. And the parts that did focus on Iran gave little hint as to U.S. intentions, unlike Bush's August 28 speech to the American Legion. Interestingly, Iran seems to have temporarily withdrawn its special operatives from Iraq, perhaps out of fear that they be captured. So maybe there was no need to repeat specific U.S. charges on that issue. But the president did issue a stern, more general warning:

To Iraq's neighbors who seek peace: The violent extremists who target Iraq are also targeting you. The best way to secure your interests and protect your own people is to stand with the people of Iraq. That means using your economic and diplomatic leverage to strengthen the government in Baghdad. And it means the efforts by Iran and Syria to undermine that government must end.

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

It turns out that President Bush’s speech last night didn’t, for the most part, focus on Iran. And the parts that did focus on Iran gave little hint as to U.S. intentions, unlike Bush’s August 28 speech to the American Legion. Interestingly, Iran seems to have temporarily withdrawn its special operatives from Iraq, perhaps out of fear that they be captured. So maybe there was no need to repeat specific U.S. charges on that issue. But the president did issue a stern, more general warning:

To Iraq’s neighbors who seek peace: The violent extremists who target Iraq are also targeting you. The best way to secure your interests and protect your own people is to stand with the people of Iraq. That means using your economic and diplomatic leverage to strengthen the government in Baghdad. And it means the efforts by Iran and Syria to undermine that government must end.

To which I imagine Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei might say, “Or what? Why would I do that?” And in fact, Khamenei declared victory at Friday prayers today in Tehran.

From Iran’s perspective, the strategy of bloodying America’s nose in Iraq is working. And on the nuclear front, the United States is having trouble convincing its European allies and Russia to back a third round of sanctions, at least for now. Iran’s leaders obviously have no moral hangups about slaughtering thousands of innocent Iraqis for raisons d’état, so it’s not as if they can be motivated by humanitarian concerns. Moreover, it would take a watershed moment or series of major confidence-building steps to get them to trust any U.S. security guarantees. So far, neither the incentives nor the disincentives have been great enough to get the Iranians to play nice. So why should they?

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