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thedrifter
08-31-07, 06:45 AM
August 31, 2007
Iran's Big Plans
By Jeff Emanuel

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday said that "a huge power vacuum" was imminent in Iraq and promised that Iran would be ready to fill it. This plainly-stated desire by the totalitarian regime in Tehran to overtly interfere in the affairs of a sovereign nation -- while simultaneously accusing the US of doing so, despite the fact that coalition forces are still present in Iraq at official invitation of that nation's sovereign government -- should come as no surprise to any who have followed the course of the Iraq war (and postwar) to this point.

From establishing training and base camps for both Shi'a and Sunni fighters (further proof - as if more was needed that sectarian lines are not an obstacle to cooperation if there is a common enemy to be fought), to funding and equipping insurgents within Iraq, Iran's ever-growing involvement in the fight against Iraq, and against the United States within that country, has been both real and pronounced for several years now. That involvement not only includes sending soldiers from the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard across Iraq's eastern border, it also includes supplying terrorists in Iraq with rockets, assault weapons, and the materials necessary to assemble EFPs (explosively-formed penetrators -- an improvised explosive device which, in the past two years, has become the number one killer of American troops in Iraq).

Major General Rick Lynch, commander of the Ft. Stewart, GA's 3rd Infantry Division (whose 3rd Brigade is one of the ‘Surge' Brigades), which is responsible for the area of Iran from Baghdad south to Salman Pak and the Tigris River Valley, publicly stated that his soldiers are currently "tracking about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in [their] area," saying that, while none have been captured at this point, they "are being targeted" like any other insurgent fighters.

Recently, a Public Affairs officer within Multinational Force-Iraq privately expressed his concern to me that the media were spiking or deliberately misrepresenting reports made by the military about Iranian involvement and the capture of Persian fighters within Iraq.
"We would arrest three members of the al Quds force (part of the Revolutionary Guard), and the story that would come out in the papers the next day would be, ‘Three Iranian diplomats arrested from embassy.' I'd call the folks at the papers and say, ‘Look, these folks weren't diplomats, and they weren't at an embassy. They're Iranian soldiers and they were taken while fighting against the coalition in Iraq.' I'd say to them, ‘We have evidence - from weapons to ID cards to uniforms - that proves beyond a doubt who and what they are,' and I'd offer to bring them in and walk through each piece of evidence with them.

"They'd never take me up on it, and would never correct their stories."
Ahmadinejad declared that Iran would work with "neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia" to replace the US in Iraq should a withdrawal take place. Saudi Arabia has, as yet, issued no response to this claim, although common sense would suggest that any dealings the Sunni state had with Shi'a Iran regarding the future of Iraq would be approached with the lessons learned from Russia's 1939 treaty with Hitler's Germany freshly borne in mind. Given the demographics of Iraq (overwhelmingly Shi'a, especially in that southern area closest to Saudi Arabia) and of Saudi itself, whose sizable Shi'a population (located in its eastern oil fields) revolted during the Iranian overthrowing of the Shah, as well as Iran's highly-publicized calls for the destruction of a fellow United Nations member country, it is difficult to imagine the Saudis entering into any agreement with the Persian state -- a natural rival well before the Iraq situation became what it is now - without fully acknowledging the likelihood of the latter violating that good faith.

Add to this Iran's war on the Kurds in its northwest reaches -- a battle which has crossed over into Iraq, and which has caused a number of Iraqi Kurds to flee their mountain homes in search of safety from Persian artillery. Then consider the Iranian funding and arming of terrorists, both Sunni and Shi'a, in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and in Syria and Lebanon, and the picture of the Middle East becomes one of several states and regions. All of these are being interfered with, influenced, or taken on militarily by Iran. Iran appears to have far greater imperialistic and hegemonic designs than most in the area, let alone in the generally-out-of-touch West, have ever dared to contemplate and would ever dare to admit.

Further threatening the region is Iran's blatant pursuit of nuclear weapons -- something which is untenable not only to the US and to Israel, but to Saudi Arabia, which has long depended on America's nuclear capability to act as its own deterrent. Should a rival state in such close proximity suddenly arm itself with nuclear weapons, the balance of power in the region would be even further skewed, resulting in (as the least of our worries) a new nuclear arms race among Muslim states.

This does not even take into account the crisis such a development would cause for Israel, as a nation whose leader has repeatedly and openly called for their destruction would be able to reach them with weapons capable of making that Muslim fantasy a devastating reality. The response by too many in the West to this last, of course, is at best to ignore it, and at worst to applaud the unspeakable barbarism required to commit such an act. In the end, those who swore to "never forget" Europe's own horrific crime against the Jews -- the Holocaust -- and who swore "never again" to allow such an act, are sitting idly by as the next one rapidly approaches.

Sadly, Tehran has chosen this course for itself, entirely independent of international action or of any need to do so. Their "foreign policy" of kidnapping soldiers, diplomats, and tourists for use as bargaining chips, of calling for the annihilation of fellow UN member states, and of sending money and materiel across their western border into a separate and sovereign nation, in hopes of killing as many American soldiers and Iraqi people as possible, is entirely -- and sickeningly -- self-directed.

No third parties or overly aggressive rivals are forcing them to act in such an overtly hostile manner not only toward their neighbors, but also toward the West. Iran has made every one of these choices on its own.

Given this, it is of the utmost importance that the people of America and her fellow Western nations begin to pay attention to the aggression being demonstrated by a hostile Iran. It is time to choose to accept, rather than to obfuscate, through chosen ignorance or through media distortion, the indisputable fact that, whether we like it or not, Iran is not only at war with the sovereign state of Iraq, as well as with America. We must also acknowledge tjay Iran has designs much grander and much more terrible than simply being a force of influence in its neighbors' internal politics.

Iran, quite simply, seeks regional hegemony and their oft-stated second goal of the utter destruction of Israel, along with every one of its citizens.

Iraq is simply the first battleground in a much larger war not only for the Middle East, but for the West as well. Along with this larger war (as has been repeatedly promised by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself) a second Holocaust is coming.

To all of those who promised "never again": wake up now - it is coming. It has already begun in Iraq, and will only grow from there. It is not too late to stop it; however, if the West does not overcome its complacency in the very near future, then it may not be too long before it is in fact too late.

Ellie

thedrifter
08-31-07, 08:12 AM
August 31, 2007, 5:00 a.m.

Don’t Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran
For now, we should avoid a smoking Tehran.

By Victor Davis Hanson

There’s been ever more talk on Iran. President Bush — worried about both Americans being killed by Iranian mines in Iraq, and Tehran’s progress toward uranium enrichment — is ratcheting up the rhetoric.

But so mirabile dictu is French president Nicolas Sarkozy. He suddenly, in the eleventh hour of the crisis, reminds the world that bombing Iran is still very possible (and he doesn’t specify by whom):

An Iran with nuclear arms is, to me, unacceptable, and I am weighing my words…And I underline France's full determination to support the alliance's current policy of increasing sanctions, but also to remain open if Iran makes the choice to fulfill its obligations. This policy is the only one that will allow us to escape an alternative, which I consider to be catastrophic. Which alternative? An Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.

Note especially the French president’s reference to “us” and the logic of his syllogism: Iran can’t and won’t have the bomb; one catastrophic remedy is bombing; therefore someone must increase sanctions or someone will bomb Iran, as the least bad of two awful alternatives. He can say all that — without the global hatred that George Bush would incur had he said half that.

Mohamed Ahmadinejad is still ranting, but with more a sense of false braggadocio than ever: Iran will inherit the mantel of Middle East hegemony; America is running from Iraq; our policies have already failed in Iraq — blah, blah, blah.

So what exactly is the status of the crisis?

Recall the current U.S. policy — which, I think, so far remains bipartisan except for a few unhinged calls for full diplomatic engagement with this murderous regime:

Show the world that Americans tried the European route with the EU3 (Britain, France, German) negotiations that have so far failed; let the U.N. jawbone (so what?); help Iranian dissidents and democratic reformers; keep trying to stabilize Iran’s reforming neighbors in Afghanistan and Iraq; persuade Russia, China, and India to cooperate in ostracizing Iran; galvanize global financial institutions to isolate the Iranian economy; apprise the world that an Iranian nuclear device is unacceptable — and hope all that pressure works before the theocrats have enough enriched uranium to get a bomb and, as Persian nationalists, win back public approval inside Iran.

The degree to which Iran has neared completion of bomb-making will determine to what degree all of the above has hurt, helped, or had no effect.

But there are subtle indications that U.S. policy is slowly working, and that a strike now on Iran would be a grave mistake, in every strategic and political sense — not to mention the humanitarian one of harming a populace that may well soon prove to be the most pro-Western in the region.

It is surreal, after all, that a French president would confess that Iran getting the bomb is “unacceptable.” Sarkozy seems to recognize that a nuclear Iran won’t be happy with bullying neighboring oil producers and carving up Iraq, but will be soon blackmailing Europe on issues from trade to war.

So finally a French leader seems to allow that if the Europeans would just cease all financial relations with Teheran, freeze their assets, and stop sending them everything from sniper rifles to machine tools, then the crippled regime would start to stagger even more. And because France has been the most obstructionist in the past to U.S. efforts in the Middle East, its mere rhetoric is nearly beyond belief.

We have no leverage with China and Russia, of course. Their general foreign policy is reactive, based on the principle that anything that disturbs the United States and diverts its attention is de facto a positive development — excepting perhaps having another nuclear nut in Asia to go alongside North Korea and Pakistan.

Still, the recent humiliating disclosures about China’s 19th-century “Jungle”-type industry, and the growing anger at what Mr. Sarkozy called Russia’s “brutality,” show that neither country has earned much respect, and that either could pull in its horns a bit concerning Iran, with deft Western diplomacy.

There are other symptoms of progress. The Sadr brigades have purportedly announced a cessation of military operations — no doubt, because they are losing the sectarian kill-fest. But it may also be because Shiite animosity against them is growing. Perhaps too they are learning that Iran’s interest in Iraq is not always theirs, but simply fomenting violence of any kind that persuades the U.S. military to leave, including arming their enemies, both Sunni and Shiite.

Every Shiite gangster should note that Iran’s envisioned future is not one of coequal mafias, but rather a mere concession in the south that takes orders from the real bosses in the north. The jury is still out on whether it is true that Arab Shiites are Shiites first, and Arabs second or third. But at some point someone will start to figure out that Iran also gave arms and aid to al Qaeda to kill Iraqi Shiites.

No one knows quite what is going on in Iraq. Yet news that the surge is working and that violence is declining is also bad news for Teheran. Its worst nightmare is that Sunni tribes are no longer aping al Qaeda, but helping Americans. That will only turn attention back to Iranian-back killers. Meanwhile Sunni masters in the region — arming themselves to the teeth — are reminding their kindred Iraqi tribesmen that Iran, not America, is the real enemy of the Arab world.

And what is our stance? The United States calmly continues to arrest and “detain” Iranian agents inside Iraq — acts, of course, that enrage a kidnapping Iran. Apparently the only thing galling to an Iranian hostage-taker is the very idea that someone else would try such a thing openly and publicly and within the bounds of the rules of war. And by labeling the Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization, the United States is finally institutionalizing what the world already knows: Iran is a criminal state whose government and terrorists are one and the same.

There is also the ever-present, ever-unreliable news out of Iran itself of gas rationing, strikes, and a deteriorating economy. If all that good for us/bad for them news is true — with oil prices still sky-high, and sanctions as yet weak and porous — then it suggests that should financial ostracism be stepped up and become really punitive, and oil recede in price by even a few dollars, the regime would face widespread disobedience.

It would help things if Western elites started seeing Iran as Darfur. Teheran has butchered thousands of its own, kills the innocent in Iraq, and has stated that it would like to see the equivalent of a second Holocaust — all surely some grounds for at least a dig from Bono or a frown from Brad Pitt.

It doesn’t help Ahmadinejad that his supposedly successful, rocket-propelled proxy war against Israel a year ago, not only was not followed up by a round-two jihad this season, but seems on careful autopsy to have been a costly blunder that nearly destroyed the infrastructure of his southern Lebanese allies. No Iranian in gas line wants to learn that his scrimping went to pay for rebuilding the atomized apartment buildings of Arabs in Lebanon.

The oddest development of all is Iranian outrage at the U.N. — a sentiment almost impossible to entertain for any such corrupt, anti-American regime. But Iran’s chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali-Ashgar Soltanieh, keeps screaming about international monitoring. He threatens this and that, which can only mean Iran fears the global humiliation of having inspectors expose the fact that puritanical, live-by-Koran clerics are serial liars.

Of course, there is no reason yet to believe that Iran’s megalomaniac plans are stalled. There is much less reason to think that the world is galvanizing fast or furiously enough against the loony Ahmadinejad. But there are some positive signs that Iran is not nearly as strong as it thinks, and the general winds of the world are blowing against it, ever so slowly — and thanks in large part to careful U.S. policy and the innately self-destructive tendencies of Iranian theocracy.

Note that the loud Democratic 2008 candidates have ceased calling for direct talks with Iran (the inexperienced Obama, the exception proving the rule). They can offer no policy other than the present one. For all the dangers, the spectacle of Ahmadinejad has been a great gift to the Western world — loudly embodying, in its raw, pure form, the evil which Iranian theocracy inevitably produces.

So we should continue with the present path — and not bomb or have surrogates bomb Iran. That option is still down the road. For as long as it is possible, the best-case scenario is not a smoking Iran, but a humiliated theocracy that slowly implodes before the world, displaying in their disgrace what the mullahs did to themselves — and perhaps a small reminder of those helpful shoves from us.

Ellie