Fighting Iran in a Regional Mideast War
Written by Herbert London
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
If it wasnt clear before, it is crystal clear now that the war in Iraq is a regional war. At stake are the tyrannies that hold sway over the Middle East. At the epicenter of this tyrannical world is Iran, a nation feverishly panting for nuclear weapons and simultaneously funding and supporting terrorist organizations of every stripe. Iran is terror central. The mullahs in this peculiar nation realize that a stable Iraq on its border that will make strides economically challenges willy-nilly the very existence of the present Iranian government.
That, of course, explains why the Iranian leaders send arms and money to Muqtada al-Sadr and why the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been sent across the border to attack American troops. The mullahs are intent on reducing U.S. influence in the region as its own broadcasts proclaim.
The pursuit of nuclear weapons is merely an extension of this general policy since WMD serve as a counterweight to American conventional weapons superiority. With nuclear weapons in their possession, the mullahs assume probably rightly that punitive strikes by the U.S. would be restrained and U.S. forces would be hostage to nuclear terror. In this scenario, Irans terror masterminds can go about their bombings and assassinations with impunity.
Should Iran undermine the U.S. position in Iraq, it would serve as a checkmate in the regional chess game. Nearby nations might seek pragmatic agreement with Iran in order to forestall terrorist groups, and U.S. prestige would be dealt a major blow. Moreover, the war on terror would be far more difficult to control than it is at the moment.
What then can the United States do? First and foremost we must deploy our forces in Iraq in a decisive way. Deals with the terrorists cannot be brokered. We must display the full lethality of our fighting force not only to secure Iraq but to send a message to Iran.
Second, the United States must insist on transparent nuclear weapons inspections by the I.A.E.A., the organization discharged with this responsibility. The dispersal of weapons sites in Iran is an ipso facto suggestion that weapons grade plutonium is probably being concealed. Despite tense relations with western European capitals, this U.S. administration should point out at every opportunity how dangerous nuclear weapons in the hands of the radical Islamists would be.
Third, Im convinced that Secretary of State Colin Powell should tell the Iranian leadership that we are more capable of disrupting the Iranian government than the Iranian government is capable of disrupting Iraq. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. It is time for tough talk since diplomatic speech does not appear to be working.
Fourth, the U.S. should be prepared to deploy non-military sub rosa means to undermine the Iranian government and embolden the many liberal groups in the country eager for regime change. The State Department gives lip service to this notion, but neither State nor the CIA seem to have a clear strategy to bring about this result.
As I see it, Iran is the wild card in the region. Unrestrained, it will cast an ominous shadow over Syria, support Hamas in the Palestinian territory, send troops into Afghanistan, and foment terror in Turkey. Some of these conditions already exist and others could be moving in an ominous direction.
Iraq is the first step in forestalling Iran. We must realize that and realize as well that this is a regional war in a high stakes effort. To fight half-heartedly wont send the appropriate message. There is much more at stake here than some barren desert land.
The future of mankind is contained in this cradle of civilization. History has anointed the United States as global protector. We cannot shun this responsibility. In fact, as I see it, there isnt any alternative other than defeating Iranian extremists and radical Islamists so that we can win the war on terror.
About the author: Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute and John M. Olin Professor of Humanities, and author of the recently published book "Decade of Denial," from Lexington Books. He can be reached through http://www.benadorassociates.com.
Iran gives mixed signals on nuclear intent
By GEORGE JAHN
The Associated Press
6/16/2004, 8:59 a.m. ET
VIENNA, Austria (AP) Iran's president said his country had no "moral" obligation to stop enriching uranium even as support grew for a resolution reprimanding but not punishing the country for blocking a U.N. probe of its nuclear activities.
President Mohammad Khatami stopped short of saying Iran will resume enrichment or stop all cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.