I think this is what David Ignatius meant on Sunday about Iran overplaying its hand. What a silly thing to say ahead of the Bush-Congress showdown. If you want America out so you can move in — and he does — why give U.S. hawks any leverage by announcing that fact publicly?

“The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly,” Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation.”

The Machiavellian read would be that he doesn’t want the U.S. to leave, at least not until he can bleed us some more, and this is his way of trying to buy Bush more time. Hard to believe that Iran digs having 160,000 American troops across the border, though, however easier it makes them to target. Maybe it’s just smoke he’s blowing back towards the west after Sarkozy’s saber-rattling yesterday and the U.S. going after the Revolutionary Guard last week? I’m at a loss. Theories are welcome.

Exit question: Will there be anyone left by the time they move in?

Update: Cooking with Islamist Nutjob!

“Of course what I make is delicious — ask everyone who has eaten it! I can make all the different kinds of soups and Iranian stews,” said the president.

Update: Another nugget from today’s presser. This one’s old news dating back to May, when ElBaradei said he thought “they pretty much have the knowledge about how to enrich.” The question is whether they have the capacity to enrich uranium highly enough to make it bomb-grade. Probably not yet, but that’s a matter of time.

Update: This won’t do Maliki any favors with Bush either, although it’ll score Iran some cheap points with Iraq’s Shiites.

“They rudely say (the Iraqi) prime minister and the constitution must change,” Ahmadinejad said. “Who are you? Who has given you the right” to ask for such a change, he added, addressing the U.S. critics of al-Maliki, who is also a Shiite.

Tags: Constitution