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An elite group with ties to the highest leadership of a nation — we’ll call it A — supplies arms to people in country B, knowing that those arms would be used against country C, a country that country A just hates.

This description might be A) Iran, B) Iraq, and C) the United States. Certainly, that was the impression George W. Bush gave in his Valentine’s Day presidential press conference, when he said (he gave one of his trademarked self-congratulatory chuckles at the end of this quote, emphasis added):

THE PRESIDENT: What we do know is that the Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that. And we also know that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. That’s a known. What we don’t know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did.

But here’s my point: Either they knew or didn’t know, and what matters is, is that they’re there. What’s worse, that the government knew or that the government didn’t know?

But you could just as easily swap those country assignments around: A) the United States, B) Iran, C) Iraq.

Travel back in time to the mid-1980s. Ronald Reagan is president. Lt. Col. Oliver North and his secretary Fawn Hall are operating out of a National Security Council office in the White House. The Iran-Iraq war is raging. More than 1,000 TOW anti-tank missiles and a variety of other arms and military parts were sold to Iran, at first through Israel, then directly.

When the plan was exposed, pressure from Congress forced Reagan to appoint former Senator John Tower (R-TX) to head a commission in late 1986. Reagan — who had been politely labelled since his first years in office by Calvin Trillin as “disengaged” — used a “poor memory” defense. Vice President George H. W. Bush claimed he was “out of the loop” publicly, although he admitted more knowledge of the sales and shipments to the FBI.

Or, let’s just for the sake of argument, use a couple of different countries: A) the United States, B) Afghanistan, C) the Soviet Union.

In 1979, after the Soviets moved into the neighboring country of Afghanistan to prop up a Communist coup that had seized power the year before, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski convinced President Jimmy Carter that it would be a great idea to draw the Soviets into a “Vietnam trap” by supplying arms to the mujahadeen and getting Moscow bogged down in a war zone on their own border that they couldn’t ignore. Carter and Brzezinski rarely get credit for their scheme, though, because they denied any involvement in the matter, getting so far up their high horses that they cancelled the US’s participation in the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. After Carter lost to Reagan (something I think the killjoy effect of not letting the athletes go to the Olympics had a hand in), Reagan got to make the aid overt and get the glory (along with Rambo III).

So yeah, it is kind of bad when weapons from country A start showing up and their leaders deny all knowledge, say they forgot, or claim nobody ever tells them — the former head of the CIA — anything.

Maybe it’s the Quds Force — although I don’t think any actual proof of that has been shown — and maybe the Iranian leadership in part or toto knows about it, but I have to wonder if they’re not telling the truth. If I controlled the factories where the weapons were made, I’d leave off the serial numbers or change them to incriminate someone else.

And there’s another possibility, which comes to mind after Russian President and former KGB man Vladimir Putin’s speech about the US overstepping our boundaries. I suspect the man has a long memory; better than either Bush, Reagan, or Scooter Libby. Nor would I be suprised if a lot of his old buddies do, too. Buddies who might have lost friends and family in Afghanistan. People who blame the US for bringing down the Soviet empire, either rightly or wrongly. As I pointed out a year and a half ago, I’m not going to be too shocked if, in a few years, we finally find out that the fake documents that led to the Iraq war and the idea that the Iranians are sponsoring attacks on US soldiers weren’t egged on by Russian intelligence operatives looking to get a little payback.