Leave it to Dick Cheney to dash hopes for any cooler heads to prevail between Washington and Tehran.
Remember, it was Cheney who did everything in his power to hype the Iraq War and scuttle any possibility of a diplomatic solution prior to that conflict.
Now he's doing the same with Iran.
Even as the State Department and the National Security Council are at least exploring the possibility of talking with Tehran, the Vice President of the United States, in typical fashion, is sabotaging that effort.
On Friday, aboard an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Cheney rattled a saber at Ahmedinejad.
Cheney said: "With two carrier strike groups in the Gulf, we're sending clear messages to friends and adversaries alike."
In case anyone missed what he was referring to, Cheney spelled it out: "We'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region."
By "with others," Cheney was referring to Israel, which has already threatened to take out Iran's nuclear facilities. Back in January 2005, Cheney sympathized with Israel's desire to attack Iran first:
"One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if in fact the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had a significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of the state of Israel, that the Israelis might well decide to act first."
Cheney also may have been referring to Saudi Arabia, which doesn't want to see an ascendant Shiite Iran across the gulf.
In any event, Cheney's message got through.
Ahmedinejad, who thrives on rhetorical clashes with Washington, warned that Iran would retaliate if the United States attacked it.
And that's no idle threat, either.
If Bush and Cheney are crazy enough to bomb Iran, and there's no reason to suspect they're not, Iran would make life even more miserable for the United States in Iraq, and it could also destabilize the world oil markets, with devastating consequences for our economy.
But Bush and Cheney have shown us already that they don't consider the consequences.
Prior to the Iraq War, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt warned that toppling Saddam would create "100 bin Ladens."
Mubarak just warned Cheney again, this time saying that a war with Iran would have "grave repercussions on the region."
This warning may have as little impact as the last.
Matthew Rothschild is editor of The Progressive.
© 2007 The Progressive. All Rights Reserved.