Well, the purpose of the surge was to provide a secure space, a time for the political change to occur to accomplish the reconciliation. That didn’t happen. Whatever the military success, and progress that may have been made, the surge didn’t accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is that the goodwill of the Iranians-they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities-the Iranians.
The quote apparently comes from audio at the San Francisco Chronicle; I’m relying on Commentary’s transcription. This is why I said yesterday that McMaster’s remarks to AEI are a must-read. This sort of willful naivete about Iran’s motives — in this case coming from a woman who not only felt compelled to meet with Assad but whom one House Democratic aide admitted would be “furious” upon hearing Murtha’s report of progress in Iraq — is right at the heart of it. Forgive the long excerpt but I know people aren’t going to read what he said unless I lay it right in front of them, so consider it laid:
I think what Iran has been able to do previously, it has been able to portray their motives [in] Iraq [as] defensive… I think what’s happening and this is one of the fundamental changes, is that the true intentions of Iran had been exposed and are more easily understood not just by us but also by the Iraqi people as really offensive in nature and really trying to keep Iraq deliberately weak so they have a weakened dependent government that has to look to them for support while at the same time they create organizations external to the government, political movements and especially militias, that can be turned against the government they ostensibly support, the Iranians ostensibly support, if the Iraqi government turns hostile to their interests…
When I traveled through the south on a last couple of visits, what I heard – and this is again on the point of militias being increasingly discredited, and this is from Iraqi Shiite leaders who were saying things like Iran is the true occupier of Iraq…
In the case of what Iran is doing in Iraq, it is so damn obvious to anybody who wants to look into it, I think, that is drop the word “alleged” and say what they’re doing, which is, we know for a fact organizing and directing operations against the government of Iraq and against our forces – the government of Iraq forces and our forces – we know they have done that, certainly in the past. We know that they are supplying them with weapons and the most effective weapons that they used to attack the Iraqi people and our forces and these include the long-range high payload rockets that have been coming in from Iraq as well as the explosively formed projectile roadside bombs that come from Iran.
We know that they have trained forces in the employment of these munitions – and in pretty large numbers. We know that they were concerned that their maligned hand being obvious in Iraq would alienate their Arab neighbors so they try Arabize these efforts by using Lebanese Hezbollah for a lot of the training but it’s a pretty cosmetic shift that they’ve made in some portions of the training.
We know for a fact that they have directed assassination operations. They have a reputation of being some of the best assassins in the world. They’ve trained Iraqis to do that. They’ve trained them in skills not only for roadside bombs and in long-range rockets but also in snipers and other skills used to intimidate or kill individuals. And we know that they have been sort of backing all horses to destabilize the situation and we know that their support is continued to key Badr officials who are in influential positions who remain on the payroll of Iran and to advance the interests of Iran and, in some cases, to provide leadership for other militia organizations that are stood up.
We know that they ostensibly have supported this government but have armed, equipped and trained a militia that has been attacking the very government they ostensibly support. And this is not just something in Basra, this is last year. This is in Nasariyah, this is Samwa, this is in Diwaniyahm, this is in Amarah and it was in Karbala in August 26th and 27th of last year. And now again in Basra.
So I think it’s very obvious. Now on this specific question you have – has it increased or has it decreased? I think it’s very clear that what Iran has done over the last year is try to develop a considerable latent capability that it could turn on in short notice. And I think that it may have been that this bold and very quick action by the Prime Minister in Basra foiled what was to be perhaps a much larger and coordinated effort, maybe even coordinated with efforts in other places in the region, like what we’re seen happening right now in Lebanon.
So, anyway, I think it’s very obvious what they’re doing. I think it’s very obvious to Iraqis, it certainly is. The Iraqis I’ve spoken to are incensed about it and I think it’s no longer alleged.
What’s left to say? The irony here is that it’s the left that’s forever insisting Iran’s a rational actor in the cold war mode, diligently advancing its strategic interests whenever the opportunity presents itself. That’s why, we’re told, we shouldn’t worry overly about them having the Bomb; they’re not going to do anything as nutty as launching preemptive nuclear strikes. Pelosi seems here to have abandoned that party line and embraced the flip side of the “apocalyptic Iran” theory: They are irrational, but only insofar as they’re irrationally benevolent in occasionally helping us clean up the quagmire by engaging in acts of “goodwill” — precisely the type of rose-colored idiocy conservatives are worried we’re going to see from President Obama.
Update: Karl chimes in that there is indeed something left to say: “[T]he other irony is that it’s the Left that denies what McMaster is saying about Iran’s meddling in Iraq. Iran is not fueling the conflict in Iraq, but for some reason, talking to the mullahs results in a ceasefire. Funny how that works.”