The Iraq Adventure is either madness or genius, either way the effects will be wide ranging and will significantly shape the rest of this century. These are just random, not necessarily connected thoughts floating in my head after reading a Stratfor briefing which opened my eyes somewhat.
Iran's non co-operation with the Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) inspectors shows that while it is easy to make agreements by dialogue (as was urged by the UK, France & Germany back in September '03) such a soft-power strategy does not necessarily reap rewards. ElBaradei's critical report which urges Iran to cooperate more fully highlights that it is almost two years since Iran's undeclared nuclear programme was brought to the attention of the IAEA. The IAEA is however powerless. Hard power to effect change lies with the U.N. Security Council and in particular the United States.
The possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable to countries willing to do more than negotiate and embrace diplomacy, in particular the U.S. and Israel. Both of which have the capability and the motivation to stop Iran from achieving nuclear status. Iran knows this. Agreement and half hearted compliance with the additional protocol took place while the situation in Iraq was looking like producing a neutral or pro-Iranian Iraq. The political sidelining of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Ahmed Chalabi and the dissolution of the Iraq Interim Governing Council co-incide with renewed Iranian posturing and defiance. But if the price of Iranian cooperation is skewing democracy in Iraq then that to the 'liberating' US is surely too high a price. So the alternative for Bush is to use or threaten hard force - with conviction, without losing an election and without further alienating the rest of the world.
Then there is Saudi Arabia and the necessity (if jobs are to be kept, food delivered, hospitals supplied etc.) to keep Saudi Oil flowing while it copes with a domestic terror campaign. The balls are in the air, how will they land? Perhaps more interestingly what really is the plan for where they land?