Back in January a friend of mine from the US emailed that he believed the Iraq crisis would be kept alive until the next presidential election. I remember thinking when the tanks rolled that at least the Bush administration was not guilty of that level of breathtaking cynicism.
The Christian Science Monitor reports:
There is an unpleasant sense of d�j� vu in Tehran. In 2001, Iran helped the US oust the Taliban in Afghanistan. But not long thereafter, it was lumped into President Bush's "axis of evil" with Iraq and North Korea for allegedly pursuing nuclear weapons and sponsoring terrorism.
Tehran then remained neutral in the Iraq war, but welcomed Saddam Hussein's overthrow and sealed its border to prevent the escape of senior Iraqi officials.
Even so, increasingly hostile rhetoric emerged from Washington, with the Pentagon talking of covert efforts to "destabilize" the Islamic Republic in the hope of igniting a popular uprising.
It is, according to European diplomats and Iranian analysts, a "very crude" approach that could backfire by encouraging rival factions in Iran to close ranks against an external threat, effectively bolstering the very hard-liners in Tehran Washington hopes to undermine.
You cannot detect the Bush administration's policy by watching their lips. You can watch what they do. I am fast approaching a point where I believe that strengthening the Iranian hard-liners (as their current policy will surely do) is no accident. It took 14 months from the axis of evil speech to the invasion of Iraq. A similar timetable would mean they roll out their new product in August 2004.
My cynical friend from Arizona may have been right.