The X Factor in 2008 — Iran

After a weekend in which 29 Americans died and the
82nd Airborne deployed in Baghdad, what the Iraq war
will mean to the politics of 2008 becomes clear.

Hillary Clinton`s early Saturday announcement of her
exploratory committee was brilliantly executed and
captured front page, cable and network coverage all
weekend. But it was a decision forced upon her.

Barack Obama, the "rock star," has been
poaching on Hillary`s donor lists and offering
Democrats, in the style of New York mayoral candidate

John V. Lindsay
in 1965 ("He is fresh, and they
are all tired"
), a post-Bush-Clinton-Bush politics
that says, "Good-bye to all that."

John Edwards has pitched his tent in the

Cindy Sheehan
camp. The Sunday preceding

Dr. King`s birthday,
he rose in New York City`s

Riverside Church
, where King had

the Vietnam War, to decry President Bush`s
surge as "the McCain Doctrine," called for
immediate withdrawal of 40,000-50,000 U.S. troops and
threw down the gauntlet to Hillary, declaring,

"Silence is betrayal."

By midweek, Hillary was out with her own plan for


The Democratic nominee will likely be one of these
three. In every national or Iowa-New Hampshire poll,
they are first, second or third. But there is a wild

On Feb. 25, America will watch the

Academy Awards,
where the Oscar for best documentary
will likely go to "
Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore
wins the Oscar, addresses the nation for two
minutes on global warming and the war, then appears on
Oprah, Leno, Letterman, Stewart and Colbert, a
subsequent declaration of candidacy would put him in the
top tier. And unlike Edwards and Hillary, Gore opposed
the war in Iraq.

In the Democratic Party, the Iraq war is a lost cause
that ought never to have been begun and any candidate
who has not come to that position by February 2007 will
not be in the hunt.

In the Republican Party, the war is

less likely to bring about the unity
Democrats will
have achieved by year`s end. For by summer`s end, the
surge will be over. While there may have been a
temporary reduction in massacres by then, no one
believes an additional 21,500 troops in a Texas-sized
nation of 26 million can turn around a war Gen. Colin
Powell says we "are losing" and Bush concedes
"we are not winning."

Already, near a fifth of the Republicans in the
Senate, including

Chuck Hagel
and presidential candidate Sam Brownback,
have come out against the surge. The front-runners, Rudy
Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney, however, still
back the president.

But while McCain is far out in front in raising money
and lining up support, he is also the single national
figure, beyond Bush and Dick Cheney, most identified
with the least popular war in U.S. history. If McCain
wishes to be president, it would be best for him for
this war to be in its final act, one way or the other,
by 2008.

If the war has been lost by then, as many believe it
is already, McCain can say: Rumsfeld lost it because he
fought it the wrong way, and we shall never do that
again. But if the war is still going on, it will be the
issue of 2008, and it is hard to see America voting to
continue or embrace the

"McCain Doctrine"
and escalate by sending in
100,000 more troops.

The GOP is thus looking at a situation in 2008 where
the party will be as divided as Democrats were with

Eugene McCarthy
, Hubert Humphrey, Bobby Kennedy and

in 1968, while Democrats will be as united as
the GOP was under Nixon. Had George Wallace, who got 13
percent, been out of the `68 race, Nixon would have won
in a landslide.

Is there anything that might

alter the course of events
and affect the war
picture by 2008? Indeed: a pre-emptive strike on Iran.

Should it occur, writes Wayne White, an intelligence
officer at the State Department until 2005,

"such action would likely
involve not only taking out widely dispersed
nuclear-related targets and nearby anti-aircraft
defenses, but also portions of the Iranian air force
assigned to defend these targets. And that`s just for

"In order to reduce
Iran`s ability to retaliate in the Persian Gulf, such a
plan probably would also include taking out Iran`s array
of anti-ship missiles along the northern coast of the
Gulf, its Kilo-class submarines, other naval assets and
even some targets related to Iran`s long-range missile

US And Iran: Circling Warily,

June 30, 2006 Wayne White, Adjunct Scholar, Middle East
Institute Perspective

Is such an attack being considered? Nick Burns, No. 3
at State, was at the

Herzliya Conference
 this weekend. "Iran is
seeking a nuclear weapon — there`s no doubt about it,"


told the Israelis.
"The policy of the U.S.
government is that we cannot allow Iran to become a
nuclear weapons state."

Burns was cheered and echoed by ex-Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz: "The year of 2007 is the year of
decisiveness. … The free world doesn`t have the
privilege to drag its feet on Iran and hope for best."

Democrats failed to stop this war. Can they stop the
next one? Or do they suspect and support what they think
is coming?



Patrick J. Buchanan

no introduction
readers; his book

State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America

can be ordered from