Thursday, February 09, 2006

Iran: Be afraid, be very afraid.

"Cyrus the Great, the ancient Persian king who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and wrote the first charter of human rights, must be spinning in his grave."
Alister Heath, The Spectator, February 9, 2006

In "A Monster of Our Own Making", Alister Heath, writing in The Spectator (UK), says,
Once the world's most advanced civilization, Iran is yet again descending into barbarism under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the rabid fanatic who took power in a rigged election last year.
And guess who he blames?
The demise of Iraq, together with Iran's dash to nuclear capability, another development that the West has disastrously mishandled, has meant that the balance of power is changing radically in the Middle East, with Iran firmly in the ascendancy. Control of Iraq, together with the acquisition of the weapons of mass destruction that all serious experts believe to be the aim of its nuclear programme, would make Iran the Gulf's uncontested hegemon as well as the pre-eminent force within political Islam, a stunning double victory now within Tehran's reach.
I think he makes a good point. With Saddam Hussein in control in Iraq, the Mullahs in Iran had a check on their murderous intentions. With Hussein gone and a government in place in Iraq that is too weak to protect itself from even the Sunni murderers, the Mullahs are having a field day and Ahmadinejad, or Ahmadinejihad as I prefer to call him, is spearheading the march.

Heath says, and rightfully so, I'm afraid,
It is no wonder, therefore, that a senior retired State Department official has told this magazine that it is becoming clear that the invasion of Iraq was "the biggest strategic blunder in recent US foreign policy" -- not because of the failure to discover the expected weapons of mass destruction, but because by removing one of the main bulwarks to Iranian expansionism without replacing it with a viable alternative, the West has unleashed a hostile regional superpower it is unable or unwilling to contain.
He says that the only thing stopping the Mullahs from taking control of Iraq is the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani whom the Mullahs do not dare challenge. But al-Sistani is in ill health and the anti-American Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stands as the next in line in influence among the Iraqi Shia. Al-Sadr has already thrown his lot in with the Mullahs, promising to support Iran against the US if, or rather, when war breaks out. Heath continues:
With propaganda rife on Iranian TV, an official policy of Holocaust denial and presidential calls to wipe Israel off the map, it beggars belief that anybody can still think that Iran poses no threat to world peace
Heath is correct in his assumption that the Israelis cannot stop the Mullahs. Any attack would probably be unsuccessful and the resulting uproar would make the ongoing Mohammed cartoon violence look like an afternoon tea party.

However, questions remain. What, exactly, should we have done in Iraq? Is it Heath's position that we should never have attacked at all? He is unclear on this. I don't think anyone, up to and including President Bush, can call the Itaq war a success, at least in the short term. Too many mistakes, too many dead and wounded Americans, too much political uproar in the Middle East and now a disaster in the making with the ascendancy of the murderous Mullahs all show that the way that we did it was wrong. As to the what that we did, I think it was probably to correct thing to do. The world of Islam needed to see a show of force. I think that now it needs another, unfortunately.

And that is, probably, our fault. If the Iraq affair had gone more smoothly, had it been better planned and executed, then maybe we wouldn't be in this predicament. The world of Islam would have seen what the exercise of American power and political will could wreak rather than wreck. That did not and has not happened. I don't know that it will ever happen relative to Iraq.

There's no sense crying over spilled milk, I guess. But we may be down to the exercise of power, that is, massive and overwhelming firepower, as our only remaining option. And what an unpleasant option that will prove to be.

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