A number of blogectuals (Lenin's Tomb, Ddjango, Catherine, and Pilger over at Z-Net) claim that the U.S. is gearing up for an attack on Iran. I must confess that the current mis-administration's calls of "Wolf!" fail to get my adrenaline running at this point. These are, after all, the same people who had farmers in North Dakota sealing their windows with duct-tape in preparation for the coming chemical attack.
But I have a hard time reading between the lines of the state propaganda on this one. My prediction on Iraq is that we're just seeing (or to be more precise, "hearing about") the tip of the iceberg at this point. Iraq's falling apart and there's absolutely nothing the U.S. can do to stop it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the current numbers of refugees and Iraqi civilian casualties would, projected over time, predict the complete depopulation of Iraq if the U.S. were to maintain the occupation for a couple decades. The only hope Bush now has is to bring in more troops and attempt to maintain the perception of control until the Republicans get tossed out of office. That way, after the fall of Iraq, Fox news "experts" can pontificate on how it was the whimpy Democrats who took all the fun out of the adventure.
But I digress. Let's return to the original question--whence the war-drumming over Iran? One interpretation is that it's a bluff meant to keep Iran on its toes and mollify Uncle Sam's current bed-partners--the Sunni dictatorships in the region (especially Saudi Arabia). Another scenario is that there are plans for a bombing (carried out by Israel?) of various facilities in Iran so as to weaken and destabalize the Iranian regime. (Americans, having watched far too many James Bond flix, have an undying faith in the power of technology to vanquish the foe without the need to get their hands too dirty in the trenches.)
I personally can't imagine a full-scale invasion. The fall-out of such a move would be extensive. As the Iraq debacle has demonstrated vividly, there is so much anomosity towards the U.S., Israel, and Britain on the Arab street that the U.S. will find it increasingly difficult to play wedge politics through open support for various factions within a destabalized Iraq or Iran. At the same time, a further attack on Iran would flood the recruitment offices of every anti-U.S. guerrila faction in the region. (And Iran is culturally much more cohesive than Iraq or Afghanistan--it won't succumb to divide and conquer tactics.)
But I would suggest even more radical consequences. From a cynical geopolitical perspective, expanding power tends to encourage the formation of opposing coalitions. I cannot imagine that a rapidly expanding China is going to passively allow the U.S. to sit atop the number 2 petroleum reserve (Iraq) and a leading supplier of both natural gas and petroleum (Iran) while maintaining close alliances with Saudi Arabia.
In the end, I think we'll soon witness first hand the inability of military might to secure hegemony within a world of global economic networks. Unfortunately, the current group of wizened wise-guys steering U.S. policy are intently focused on political survival at this point, and aren't behaving very rationally even when evaluated according to their own stated objectives.