In the last few months, Bush has subtly hinted that he made a mistake the first time, and went after the wrong country. A change of one letter from Iran to Iraq is understandable; I got on the Q train once when I should have waited for the N instead.
The problem is that Bush can’t just say “I was wrong.” He’ll blow whatever support for more wars he has left. So instead, he raids an Iranian consulate in Arbil, and then plays along with the new designation of the building as a proto-consulate. That on the one hand signals to everyone who’s paying attention that he’s going to get even more aggressive with Iran, and on the other gives him plausible deniability with the voters.
Iran is an even greater tragedy of American foreign policy under Bush than Iraq. Iraq changed from a dictatorship where the regime murdered about 10,000 people every year to a proto-dictatorship where the proto-dictators and the US murder 200,000 people every year. Iran remained a theocratic dictatorship, where it could’ve become a democracy by now.
Lindsay explains how Iran stopped supporting the US’s war on terror only after Bush branded it part of the Axis of Evil. It’s important to note that that happened years before Ahmadinejad was elected; Iran’s drift away from pro-Americanism happened under Khatami’s watch.
If the US loses its mind and invades Iran, the situation will be completely different from the one with Iraq. First, Iraq had sectarian bitterness going back 15 years; Iran doesn’t. Second, Iraq was defenseless and relatively undeveloped; Iran is neither. Third, Iran has vibrant domestic politics that US pressure is stunting. Fourth, Israel has a far greater interest in seeing Iran destroyed than it did in seeing Iraq destroyed. And fifth, Iran backs terrorists to levels Saddam’s Iraq never did.