Better Late Than Never?

President Bush announced today that he has authorized our forces in Iraq to take actions against Iranians who are committing acts of war against us in that country:

President Bush has authorized U.S. forces in Iraq to take whatever actions are necessary to counter Iranian agents deemed a threat to American troops or the public at large, the White House said Friday.
“It makes sense that if somebody’s trying to harm our troops, or stop us from achieving our goal, or killing innocent citizens in Iraq, that we will stop them,” Bush said. “It’s an obligation we all have … to protect our folks and achieve our goal.”
The aggressive new policy came in response to intelligence that Iran is supporting terrorists inside Iraq and is providing bombs – known as improvised explosive devices – and other equipment to anti-U.S. insurgents.
“The president and his national security team over the last several months have continued to receive information that Iranians were supplying IED equipment and or training that was being used to harm American soldiers,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
“As a result American forces, when they receive actionable information, may take the steps necessary to protect themselves as well as the population,” Johndroe said.

The fact that Iran is arming insurgents with IEDs and otherwise supplying and leading them is hardly a news flash. It is hard to believe that until now, our policies gave Iranians in Iraq some sort of immunity. As we noted earlier today, there is evidence that Iran’s role in the current violence is central, not peripheral. While the extent of Iran’s influence over, support for and participation in the Shia insurgency is hard to judge from a distance, giving our troops a green light to retaliate against Iranians in Iraq who are trying to kill them–if that’s really all the new policy means–is much too little, much too late.
UPDATE: The National Council of Resistance, an Iranian opposition group headquartered in France, claims that thousands of Iraqis are paid Iranian agents. The group “released the names, alleged dates of recruitment by Iran and the supposed salaries of 31,690 Iraqis.”
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