Toward the end of last night's speech on Iraq, President Bush outlined preliminary steps for dealing with Iran and Syria, to interrupt their support for terrorists. He promised to interdict the flow of support from both countries, and destroy the terrorist networks they sponsor inside Iraq.Read it here.
Mr. Bush also proposed new security initiatives to protect U.S. interests in the Middle East, including the recently-announced deployment of a second carrier battle group to the region. Then, he dropped this minor bombshell, which has been all-but-ignored by the pundits and the MSM:
"We will expand intelligence sharing, and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region."
True, Patriot batteries can provide an important symbol of our willingness to protect our friends. But they're most useful in defending key facilities and population centers from air and ballistic missile attacks. It doesn't take a military analyst to understand that there's something larger at work here. The U.S. seems concerned that our military build-up--or a preemptive Israeli strike--could trigger a backlash from Iran, prompting missile attacks against our allies in the region (air strikes are a much lesser threat, given the limited capabilities of the Iranian Air Force). Deploying Patriot batterys now would illustrate U.S. resolve, while providing a missile defense capability in areas that are currently unprotected.
The spook also notes:
It's also worth noting that countries which may "host" a Patriot deployment also have military facilities that could be used in a military campaign against Iran. Bahrain is already home for the U.S. 5th Fleet; Oman and the UAE have airfields that would be extremely useful in defending the region against Tehran's military forces, or if necessary, launching attacks on Iran.One of his commentators also notes that the reference to the Turkish and Iraqi border situation is also suggestive. Both countries share a problematic border with..., guess who.
I would add that the Bush diplomatic team has been busy lining up Sunni states in the region to form a united front against possible Shiite expansionism. It is not impossible to imagine that such an anti-Shiite alliance could also be useful in an effort to bring about regime change in Iran.