The whole article is at antiwar.com
The headline seems a bit misleading. As noted in the part of the article here the whole policy is contradictory. The "democratisation" of Iraq put the Shia (plus Kurds) in power and for the most part the Shia have been allies and certainly keen for deBaathification and they want to curb the Sunni insurgents. The new policy is to contain Shia and particularly Iran's influence. However there are Sunni groups such as Hamas that do not fit into that equation well and also it is going to be very difficult to restrain Iranian influence when the Shia in Iraq are the largest group and also have close ties to Iran. Increasing Iran's hostility and refusing to negotiate with them is hardly a clever strategy. Pandora's box is just beginning to open.
Why Is the US Backing
An interview with Seymour Hersh
by Charles Goyette
Interview recorded Feb. 27, 2007. Listen to the interview.
Although we've talked about this issue, your article in The New Yorker, "The Redirection," a couple of times, Mr. Hersh, would you give us a thumbnail sketch of your story?
Hersh: Yeah, basically, it's a story saying that we've changed our policy in a very dramatic way in the last few months.
It's awfully hard to know when and where. We are involved in a war now in Iraq, and it is not going well. So the president has decided we are going to expand this. What we want to do is – our target now is Iran. We want to isolate Iran. We want to run operations against Iran. We've been doing that for a year, and we also want to escalate against Iran's buddies in Syria and Lebanon.
So we are now… The United States has joined forces with the Brits, Israelis, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan – the moderate Sunni Arab countries – in a coalition designed to beat back the Shia. They are a minority, but a very powerful minority. As you know, Iran is Shia. Right now in Lebanon, the Sunni government, controlled by a man named Prime Minister Siniora, is under much pressure from a coalition headed by Hezbollah – which is Shia. It's got Christians on it too, but the coalition wants a bigger share of the pie in Lebanon – more power.
So, there is a standoff there.
The U.S. is throwing in – all the way – with those who want to stop the Shia anywhere in the Middle East. That is a huge escalation because, among other things, the growing contradiction of the policy is that we have made the Shia in Iraq our allies. It is not quite clear how strong that relationship is anymore, but that's… So you've got… It's sort of like the yellow submarine, you know? They disappear.
The policy is so complicated, so contradictory and so ad hoc, you just wonder what these guys are thinking of.
Goyette: I've described it on my show – Bush and these people – as the sorcerer's apprentice. They've unleashed these forces that they cannot contain – they cannot foresee. But isn't anyone in the administration overcome with shame in not foreseeing the obvious: that the de-Ba'athification and the invasion of Iraq would have contributed substantially to the a Shia power block? I mean, that seems like it would have been foreseeable back in 2002.
Hersh: You know, you've got to understand how obdurate these neocons are. When the war began, by June of 2003… You know, I'm tuned in. I've been writing critically about this. I've written no other story since 9-11, only this one insane crummy subject – it's driving me nuts.
But within two or three months [of the beginning of the war in 2003], my buddies on the inside were saying, "We are beginning to hear the insurgency ditty bopping." We could hear them communicating with each other. We couldn't break the code, but we picked up messages. It was Iranian signals gear. It was pretty sensitive stuff. The Iranians were passing along communications gear [to Iraqis]. By the way – why shouldn't they? I mean, that's not a sin. Why shouldn't they [Iran] help their ally and weaken us? That's the way the world is.
In any case, the neocons refused to listen to the idea that the Shi'ites in the south – whom they were pushing, because they wanted to de-Ba'athify: get rid of the army and anything in connection with Saddam, which is really stupid. They [neocons] would say to the military and the intelligence service, "Don't worry about it. Don't forget that there was an eight year war in the eighties between Iraq and Iran – very bloody by the way – where twenty thousand people would die on any given day. There were horrible battles. The Shia in Iran and the Shia in Iraq hate each other."
That was the theory: there is no way the Iraqi Shia are going to support Iran after that war. This is what the neocons said. It didn't matter how many times the [intelligence] community would report and say, "we've got real problems here. We notice five thousand Iranian intelligence officers."