The British Ministry of Defense has leaked a story that General Petraeus will damn Iran when he reports to the president and congress later this week, setting the stage for hostilities. The British fear that the all-too-political Petraeus is preparing to do the White House bidding to deal with the Iranian threat before Bush leaves office. Petraeus, who clearly is not thinking of sitting down and negotiating with the Mullahs, has already said that Iran is responsible for most of the violence in Iraq and is engaged in “proxy” war, a statement that is both absurd and remarkably unencumbered by any facts to back up the assertion. Now that Admiral Fallon is gone, the British government apparently fears that Petraeus-Bush-Cheney will have a free hand to engage in another cakewalk. The neocons are predictably also stoking the fires. In a bizarre opinion piece in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal entitled “The Second Iran Iraq War” Kimberly Kagan repeats the Petraeus claim that Iran is responsible for most of the violence in Iraq and then goes on to assert that the “US must recognize that Iran is engaged in a full-up proxy war against it in Iraq.” Poor grammar aside, Kagan’s assertion is based on nothing credible apart from a generalized neocon fantasy about what is going on along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. It cannot be that the liberated Iraqis viscerally dislike us, so it must be the Iranians. Kagan claims that Iran is controlling Iraqi militias and smuggling in sophisticated weapons to kill US soldiers in spite of the fact that the military spokesmen whom she cites as “proof” for her claims have produced little to nothing in the way of actual evidence to support either assertion. She also claims that the fighting in Basra two weeks ago pitted the central government against a rogue militia and “revealed new strengths of Iraq’s government and Security Forces.” Her view is not exactly unique as it is similar to what was coming out of Petraeus’s Multi National Forces headquarters and Ryan Crocker’s Embassy, though they subsequently distanced themseves from their initial support of al-Maliki. At the White House the Great Decider had also picked up the bouncing ball, describing the fighting as a “defining moment” for Iraqi democracy. But most other observers would disagree and would find Kagan’s analysis completely wrongheaded, almost the reverse of what is true. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suffered a major political defeat. His army, largely drawn from the pro-Iranian Badr Group militia, was trying to drive out rival Shi’ite Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi militia to obtain complete control over Basra, the choke point for Iraqi oil exports and a money mill for whoever holds it. Al-Maliki feared that al-Sadr would win local elections which will be held later this year, taking over the regional government and controlling the oil. The Iraqi army did very poorly in spite of US and British help and was stopped dead by the Mehdi before Iran helped negotiate a cease fire. Ironically, al-Maliki’s political coalition of Dawa and SCIRI is much closer to Iran than is al-Sadr, so Kagan is really boosting the cause of Tehran’s closest ally in Iraq. One last work on Kimberly Kagan. She is a classic neocon entrepreneur who relies on nepotism to work her way through the system. She studied ancient history at Yale under Donald Kagan and then married his son Fred, the American Enterprise Institute stalwart and the co-author of the “surge.” She is now billed as a “military expert” by the neocon media in spite of her lack of any actual military experience. She writes mostly about the Middle East, but does not have working knowledge of either Farsi or Arabic so presumably her analysis is not based on any primary sources and is only derivative. She is president of the Institute for the Study of War, which has a website www.understandingwar.org. It would probably be interesting to find out who funds the Institute for the Study of War. If I were making this stuff up nobody would believe it.