Maybe the real administration plan, all along, has been to precipitate a broad, regional sectarian war in the Middle East. "If we just nudge this domino," they might have thought, "the Islamic world will implode in Sunni-Shiite civil war, turning the violence inward."
No, I don't really believe that was the plan. But it might be what happens, anyway.
I haven't found a betting site that lists odds for such a conflagration, but tradesports.com has odds on:
(1) U.S. military action against North Korea (Current market: 15-20% chance this will happen by December '07)
(2) U.S. or Israeli overt airstrike against Iran (Current market: 20-25% chance this will happen by December '07)
One more thing:
I wonder whether the U.S. has a long-term strategy regarding nuclear proliferation, where I'm talking on the order of 50-200 years. The bomb has only been around for 60 years - that's an eye-blink in historical terms. Given that information "wants to be free" and simply tends to leak and spread over time, and given the course of development around the world, there is little reason to believe there will be many nations incapable of developing nuclear arms in 2100. To date, many have declined to develop them; maybe this will continue, maybe it won't. I have trouble getting my head around the "cognitive processes" of states, given that they really exist only in the minds of individuals. In any case, it seems to me that achieving stability in the long-term is a very different challenge from, say, avoiding nuclear holocaust during the cold war. Then, there was essentially one "enemy" command structure, with one authority to negotiate with, and they were known quantities. In a future where 200 different states have neutron-bomb caliber WMDs, the dynamic is completely different. I don't think MAD works, and I don't think comprehensive monitoring works.
So I don't know . . . functional missile defense plus a nation-blanketing network of nanobots with geiger-counters to prevent attacks via smuggled bombs?