Our Iran Problem Is Not a Product of The Iraq War
On www.globalpolitician.com, David Storobin (whom I regard very highly as an international political analyst) argues that Iraq War has not been worth its long term strategic cost because of our current difficult and dangerous situation with Iran and with remaining Islamist terrorist organizations.
A summary of the facts in the Middle East as presented by Mr. Storobin:
• Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are very dangerous, and maybe increasingly so
• Iran is not negotiating in good faith about their nuclear program and fully intend to develop a nuclear weapon
• For several reasons, Iran wants to destroy Israel
• “Iran is everything anyone ever said about Iraq and more”
• “US troops are stuck in Iraq...”
I do not disagree with any of this. Where I come to a different conclusion is in attributing the causation of these facts to the war in Iraq. Other than the US troops being “stuck” in Iraq, each of these facts would be at least as true had we not taken down Saddam.
The Hezbollah issue is exceptionally dynamic given the flux in Lebanon. Much will depend on whether Hezbollah chooses to side with Syria or with their “host” country. I do not believe terrorist organizations have gotten more dangerous due to the war in Iraq. I do agree that their getting a nuclear weapon from Iran is a frightening thought, but not one which has become more likely due to the war.
It is only because Iran has seen that we can occasionally be more than a paper tiger that they are even pretending to negotiate. Had we not gone to war Iran would likely be moving ahead much more secretly and rapidly with nuclear weapon development. I predict that we will see Europeans cautiously bringing out “sticks” to deal with Iran despite their usual predilection for doing whatever they think will annoy us most.
Although Iran probably understands that the United States’ military options are very limited at this time, both by military and diplomatic constraints, they understand equally well that there is a limit beyond which the US will ignore those restraining considerations. One of these limits would be proof that they had transferred a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group. Israel will likely have a much quicker trigger finger than we will, another thing which can not be lost on Iran and which is not substantially affected by our prosecution of the war.
If anything, a side product of the war has been removing some of the United States’ restraint of Israel. More than elsewhere in the world, Middle Easterners respect, fear, and respond to power...and nothing else. The fact that we have demonstrated our own power and our willingness to let Israel use theirs is a clear positive by-product of the war. Iran’s desire to destroy Israel is no more enhanced than is their realization that Israel and the US are more determined than ever to stop them.
Thus, although I agree with David Storobin’s analysis of the situation on the ground in and around Iraq, I reach a very different conclusion: I do not believe the war in Iraq has done anything but help us in our strategic position in the Middle East.
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