Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Iran.....

The Royal Institue of International Affairs at Chatham House in England has released a report in which they assert that Iran is now the key power in the Middle East and Iraq. It reports:

"There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the War on Terror in the Middle East," says the report from Chatham House's Middle East Programme.

"The United States, with coalition support, has eliminated two of Iran’s regional rival governments - the Taleban in Afghanistan in November 2001 and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in April 2003 - but has failed to replace either with coherent and stable political structures."

I bring this up on the heels of Republican representative Hoekstra's report criticizing America's lack of clear intelligence on Iran, or more cynically said, American intelligence not fitting Mr. Hoekstra's ideology. Mr. Hoekstra is in line with those who would like to pop the head off the snake in Iran, irregardless of what the facts on the ground are. Similarly to the situation in Iraq, even though Powell said in February 2001 that the sanctions worked and Saddam hadn't reconstituted his weapons programs, and that no WMDs were found in Iraq, these fearmongers and warmongers don't particularly care. Ah, the inconvenience of not having the facts fit the ideology.....

The problem, as is evidenced today in the Middle East, is that our own strategy, Bush's Doctrine, Cheney's One Percent Doctrine, gave the Middle East to Iran on a silver platter.

Saddam is a Sunni, and Sunnis are a minority in Iraq, at about 30% or so. The large majority in Iraq are Shi'ites, at about 60% or so. The remainder are Kurds and other smaller groups. Iran is 90% Shi'ite. The Shi'ites in Iraq have been looking towards help from Iran for decades against Saddam. Saddam was what kept the Iranians in check from dominating Iraq. Now Saddam is gone and through democratic processes, the Shi'ites with strong ties to Iran now control Iraq---or at least the Shi'ite portion. The Sunnis knew what would happen the moment Saddam was taken out: Iran would take revenge on them for their aggresive war against Iran. That's why they revolted against the US occupation and have been fighting so hard against the Shi'ites.

The stupidity of Bush's Doctrine is that it did not destroy terrorism, nor terrorists. As I've quoted numerous times, Porter Goss, head of CIA testified in front of the Senate that Islamic jihadists were using the War in Iraq as a recruiting tool for more recruits. The stupidity of Bush's Doctrine is that it exacerbated terrorism so now we are far less safer than ever before. The stupidity of Bush's Doctrine is that so much of our effort has been expended in Iraq at such a high cost that can we even afford or have the tools and recruits needed for a real fight against a real enemy anytime soon? The stupidity of Bush's Doctrine is that he has not asked Americans to sacrifice to pay for this war, and now we will be in red financially as far as the eye can see. Tell me what business can run on red indefinitely? How can a country run on red indefinitely? At some point, it will do us irreprable harm. When will that moment be? I doubt it will be in Bush's lifetime. I doubt he will be around to pay this debt. He'll leave it on future generations. The stupidity of Bush's Doctrine is that our children and our children's children will come to hate our selfish and selfserving generation. This will be considered the worst time in American history!

I am curious if conservatives can actually name one "success" in Bush's Doctrine so far. Yes, you've removed Saddam, but now Iran runs Iraq. Is that really a "success?" Yes, Lebanon broke the bands of Syrian bonds, but you sacrificed the Cedar Revolution on the altar of Israeli defense. Is that a success? The Taliban still kill Americans and foreigners and those who work for foreigners in Afghanistan. Is this a success? 3400 Iraqi civilians were killed in July of violent deaths. Is this a success? Is that what you view as a successful strategy? Three times British Muslims have attempted to murder their own or Americans, twice succeeding. Is this success? Take a look at the State Department's Travel Warnings pages and see what they say. For example, this is what they say about Iraq: The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq, which remains very dangerous. Is this success? Some might say, "we haven't had enough time yet." But, it took Roosevelt three and a half years to thoroughly defeat his enemies and fundamentally alter the entire world. We've now been in Iraq for three and a half years. Why is it still so dangerous to go into just one country? Is this success?

On Iran though, it seems that Republicans don't want peace. CATO's Justin Logan has the following to say about the neo-conservative strategy:

Neoconservative grumbling about diplomacy is nothing new, but this tone has become increasingly common. Regarding Syria, Iran, anywhere, if diplomacy can’t provide a slam-dunk, total, and complete resolution of all the issues, then it’s held out as a worthless exercise in jaw-jawing.

To some extent the point is well-taken: Diplomacy can be difficult, and can fail, and it always produces temporary, imperfect solutions. But that’s the point: all foreign policies produce temporary, imperfect solutions. Crusading in search of silver bullets puts us in predicaments like those of Iraq.

In the course of pooh-poohing talks with the Syrians, for example, we’re regaled with tales of how past dialogues have failed to wean them away from their client Hezbollah, and how the Assad regime is still, well, nasty. Since Iran hasn’t agreed to capitulate before even coming to the negotiating table, the supposed uselessness of diplomacy is demonstrated.

But the point isn’t to hold diplomacy out as the way to magically eliminate foreign policy problems. There is no way to eliminate problems in foreign affairs entirely. But diplomacy is a tool for managing crises, and for finding limited areas to cooperate or compromise.

By setting the standard for diplomacy so high as to demand a nice, neat, tied-up-with-a-ribbon solution in order to prove success, neoconservatives are framing the debate such that diplomacy is always a sure-fire “failure.” That’s harmful, because it misconstrues the choices and unnecessarily limits our options.

It makes it hard to see neo-conservatives interested in desiring anything but war. This is clearly the case when you read Max Boot articles and op-eds. They really think violence will solve their problems. The important question is, why are people listening to them?

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