In a warning to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, President Bush said Thursday that Iran was a danger to the Middle East, and promised that if Maliki did not share that view, the president would have a "heart to heart" talk with him.Of course Maliki is not the only independent puppet in the region. Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai is not with the program either.
Appearing at a White House news conference, Bush denounced Tehran for what he said was its support of terrorist groups, and for its nuclear program and threats to Israel. The president, who says that Iran provides explosives used against U.S. troops in Iraq, warned that Tehran would face unspecified "consequences" if such activity continued.
His comments came as Maliki wrapped up a visit to Iran, where he held apparently harmonious meetings with top Iranian officials. Bush said he presumed that Maliki shared his critical view of the Tehran government, but he added that "if the signal [from Maliki] is that Iran is constructive, I will have a heart to heart with my friend the prime minister, because I don't believe they are constructive."
Bush's comments pointed to the continuing challenges his administration faces in trying to deal with the ever-closer relationship between Tehran and the predominantly Shiite Muslim government in Baghdad.
Blitzer quoted US Ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood, who recently blamed Iran for the deteriorating security situation. According to Wood, "there is no question that weaponry of Iranian types has been entering Afghanistan for some time, in amounts that make it hard to imagine that the Iranian government is not aware that this is happening."Meanwhile, General Petraeus hints at decade-long Iraq presence and Iraq war Czar, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, says we might need a draft to do it. That has to leave the Republicans in congress shaking in their boots.
"We have had reports of the kind you just mentioned," acknowledged Karzai. However, he went on to defend Iran strongly, saying, "Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan in the peace process that we have and the fight against terror and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan. ... We have had very very good, very very close relations. ... Iran has been a helper and a solution."
As they prepare a PR spin fest around the Petraeus report in September Sidney Blumenthal says the administration wonders if there is a roadside bomb in their future in the form of Collin Powell.
Behind the display of bravado, the West Wing is seized with anxiety. Any rustle in the brush, any sudden noise, upsets the president's aides. As they try to regain their composure and confidence, recalling the glory days when they constituted themselves as the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, a P.R. juggernaut before the invasion, they know who and what they have buried along the way and fear their return.Yes Mr Powell, you might be able to save a bit of your legacy by stepping forward now and speeding up our exit from this quagmire.
The release of a documentary on the administration's failures in Iraq, "No End in Sight," directed by Charles Ferguson, has the White House spooked. Bush's aides are not worried because the film is brilliantly shot and edited, or because it is compelling, but because of what -- or whose appearance -- it might augur to upset their September rollout.
The film features three former administration officials speaking on camera as unreserved critics of prewar and postwar planning: Powell's former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson; Powell's former deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage; and former U.S. ambassador Barbara Bodine, a senior member of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq, closely aligned with Powell.
Wilkerson and Bodine have spoken out before. But Armitage's debut in particular has the White House fuming and fretting that it somehow signals Powell's emergence as a full-throated critic in the middle of the September P.R. offensive. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, according to sources close to him, has voiced anger and concern about whether Powell will step forward and what he might say, and other presidential aides are wondering how to cope with that nightmarish possibility.