Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Doing Iran's bidding

In her most recent post, Movies and Dreams..., Riverbend lays out a thesis I'm hearing a lot of these days — that the unintended consequence of the Iraq was has been to advance Iran's power in the Middle East.Baghdad Burning:

The agony of the long war with Iran is what makes the current situation in Iraq so difficult to bear- especially this last year. The occupation has ceased to be American. It is American in face, and militarily, but in essence it has metamorphosed slowly but surely into an Iranian one.
I heard Richard Clarke on an KQED broadcast making the same point. And other Iraqi bloggers see it the same way. We have done what Iran failed to do in the Iran Iraq war. Allow me to quote extensively from the broadcast:
What were the war aims of Iran (in the Iran Iraq war)? They were:
  • To throw Saddam Hussein out of office.
  • To eliminate the Iraqi military threat, including its weapons of mass destruction
  • To take the Shia religious group inside Iraq, which was the largest religious group, and have it become the largest influence in the running of the government
  • To allow the Iranian people to come and visit the shrines in Najaf and elsewhere
  • And finally, to have the revolutionary government in Tehran have great influence in the government in Baghdad
Those were the war goals. [...]

We have no created the circumstance, at the cost of all of our dead and all of our money, we have now created the circumstance where all of the Iranian goals have been achieved. And Iran, probably at this point, is either the second or third largest contributor to the coalition, although it's not formally a member of the coalition. But Iran probably has, after the United States and Great Britain, more troops and intelligence officers in the country than anybody else -- covertly. And overtly giving billions of dollars in assistance to the new government in Baghdad -- the new government in Baghdad that consists of so many people who spend the last twenty years in Tehran.

When the defense minister of Iran visited Baghdad earlier this year, he held meetings with his Iraqi counterparts, and they all spoke Farsi. And the Iranian defense Minister said, "The United States will eventually leave. And when it does, we will still be there." So we have made Iraq safe for the Ayatollahs in Iran.

Clarke makes many good points about our goals and our options in Iraq. His views are pretty close to mine, and not too far from the phased withdrawal plan that people like Kevin Drumm, and now John Kerry have been advocating. If you have the bandwidth, I recommend downloading the broadcast and listening to the whole thing.

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