Win Win for Iran

Although on the surface, things have been going well lately for President Bush on Iraq-the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the installing at long last of a permanent government in Iraq, and a vote of support in the U.S. House of Representatives for the President's Iraq policy-it is easy to forget that even if the United States wins the war in Iraq, it loses. Even if the Bush administration eventually creates, in the words of the House resolution, a "sovereign, free, secure and united Iraq," the big winner there will be Iran.

The real driver behind U.S. policy in Iraq still remains murky. It certainly wasn't to enshrine the will of the people in Iraq. If that were the case, the administration would have agreed to the proposal of some Democrats to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from that country. The president and vice president of Iraq have requested one, and 80 percent of Iraqis want U.S. troops to go home.

Some analysts allege that the neoconservative elements of the administration wanted to knock off an enemy of Israel. Others allege that Bush and Cheney wanted to tidy up unfinished business from the first Bush administration and take down the Arab leader who had allegedly tried to assassinate Bush's father after the first Gulf War. Another possibility is that the United States knew that it was going to lose its military bases in Saudi Arabia and needed to find-or create-another friendly country near the Persian Gulf that would support such a military presence. But none of this really matters much because, whatever the administration's real rationale, it made a Herculean blunder by not focusing on the effects of the invasion on the key player in the region-Iran.

Iran has always been the regional superpower in the Persian Gulf area. This fact caused alarm in the West when Mohammed Mossadegh, the then-Iranian Prime Minister, nationalized Iran's oil industry in 1953. A coup engineered by the U.S. and British intelligence services restored to power the more Western-friendly Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Supporting Iran, because of its large population and abundant oil reserves, was the keystone of U.S. foreign policy in the Persian Gulf for much of the Cold War until Iranians became fed up with the brutality and corruption of the Shah and overthrew him. They replaced him with a radical theocratic regime hostile to the United States. So alarmed was the U.S. government about this new Iranian regime that it supported Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war during the 1980s. After that war, however, Saddam invaded neighboring Kuwait in response to Kuwait's slant drilling of oil from under Iraqi territory. Instead of warning Saddam against further moves against Saudi Arabia and deploying a few U.S. forces there to act as a tripwire against such further Iraqi action, President George H.W. Bush elected to demolish half of Saddam's army and his entire air force in the process of liberating Kuwait.

Of course, Desert Storm weakened Iraq as a counterweight to the 800-pound Iranian gorilla, but at least the current president's father realized that completely obliterating Saddam's regime would have given Iran free reign in the region.

So it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that invading Iraq to shoot the already wounded Iraqi army would make Iran-now ruled by the despotic Ayatollah Khameini-the dominant power in the region for years to come. During the occupation, President Bush proved that he was certainly no rocket scientist by dismembering what was left of the smashed Iraqi security forces.

General William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency and a conservative, opposed the Vietnam War because he believed U.S. involvement there helped the main U.S. adversary-the Soviet Union. Similarly, he opposed the invasion of Iraq because it helped the country most hostile to the United States in the Persian Gulf-Iran. Iran is now funding, training, and supporting Shi'ite militias in Iraq, some of which are slaughtering Sunni Arabs. Without Saddam Hussein holding the fractious Iraq together, Iranian influence there has skyrocketed.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration, oblivious to the stark geopolitical realities of the region, has been squandering U.S. lives and money - $320 billion so far-to help Iran expand its role as a regional superpower.

Ivan Eland is the Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and author of the book, Putting "Defense" Back into U.S. Defense Policy: Rethinking U.S. Security in the Post-Cold War World.

New from Ivan Eland!
THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed

Most Americans don't think of their government as an empire, but in fact the United States has been steadily expanding its control of overseas territories since the turn of the twentieth century. In The Empire Has No Clothes, Ivan Eland, a leading expert on U.S. defense policy and national security, examines American military interventions around the world from the Spanish-American War to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Buy It Today >>

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Older Comments:
Assalamou alaikoum dear brother Ahsan Raza. I share your opinion and feelings. Please keep in mind that crappy innuendos about destructive antagonism between Muslim sects serve well the propaganda of the modern crusaders, anything goes, even using respectful authors and respectful websites. I cite al marhoum Khomeini "Muslims UNITE!"

Salam. Although I do not totally agree with this article, it is an interesting persepctive, and I repsect the authors opinion. However, I am disgusted at the fact that the author said that Iran was training Shiite militias to slay sunni arabs. Please get your sources and facts right. The world now does not need Shiite and Sunni disunity, that is exactly what the enemies of Islam are aiming for. And yet, articles like these that give riduculous facts about Iran will create unnecessary division between the Muslim Ummah. For a website that is known for its islamic wisdom and knowledge, i am surprised you would post an article that gives false facts about Iran without any sources.
Thank you

Anyone who has some familiarity with the culture, civilization and contribution to human history should wonder why it has descended into a state of barbarism in the past 25 years under the rule of Mullahas and the present loose canon - president Ahmedinijad . Can any one call this another pearl of Islamic Paradise on earth? What a shame!

US had one mission to keep Israeli alive and Arabs states continue to fight each. Bush/Cheney
they didn't want no stinking peace in the Middle
East. While the Israeli continue to kill the Palestinians, US looked the other way.

Ancient persia consists of both modern day Iraq and Iran. Therefore, iran and iraq will always influence eachother. Iran is THE nation which has long been the thorn against U.S interest and long-term evil plan for mid-east. Unlike other mid-eastern nations, Iran historically proven difficult for U.S to dominate or control. There is something mysterious about iran. Both Iraq and Iran have some really keen and shrewd politicians. People of both iraq and iran got lots of potential. They naturally deserve to be the superpowers of that region. I personally think iran,iraq, syria probably are the best of muslim nations and despite all their internal problems today, the defeat of U.S and zionists in future lies at the feet of these nations . God bless iran and iraq.

I think the article was doing great until there was the implication that Iran was funding militant groups IN ORDER to subdue and kill Sunnis in Iraq. We know that there are crooked agendas in play from the West however, if we read the letter that President Ahmadinejad wrote to President Bush, we will realize that funding groups to INCREASE violence in Iraq would be against the pricipals and contradict the actions of the Islamic Republic. Instead of making this a Sunni vs Shia issue, we should focus more that Muslims are under attack and we should unite in order to bring forth the beautiful message and life that God has ordained for us through Islam. Thank you for your excellent website, and please I hope that such articles will only serve to unite Muslims, and educate non-Muslims. We dont have time to point fingers right now.

in peace

USA had her skirmish with Asia.First with Japan.They couldn't handle them and they were about to lose the war to them.The solution they opted for?Two nuclear assaults on two unexpected cities destroying their innocent population.An act of cowardice fitting the bastard nature of the American administration.Second was Korea.It ended in a truce, an unresolved issue that keeps on biting them in the ass up to date.Third was Viet Nam, ended in the victory of the red army and the US had to ship out from Saigon, tail between legs and head drooped.The Arabs were always having a problem to fight.If you observed Islamic history,Europe was not afraid of the Arabs. Europe trembled at the sight of the Ottomans(Turks), Temur Lenk's army(Mongols) and Mameluks(Burji dynasty,Caucassians;Bahri dynasty,Tatar). Iran, the ancient Persia, was enamy #1 of the Greek empire.Only Alexander the Great obtained a significant victory against them.

My thought to USA and Israel is this, you might fight the Arabs and have a feeling of winning,momentarily,but by not reaching an agreement you will have no peace or resolution. This situation will persist as long as you occupy their lands. As concerning, the Iranians(Caucassians) and the Koreans(Mongols),think thrice before starting any armed hostility toward them.They will have no mercy and your defeat will begin with the start of any war against them.Sorry guys but you are not invincible and by wanting too much you might lose everything including your own implanted despicable colony of Israel.

Things that expired need change.The American cowboy attitude does not belong in the modern world,in fact it worked only in the lawlessness of the onslaught of the Natives.I can imagine how an honest American might feel.But to judge an individual after the stupidity of one country's government would be wrong.

Peace out!

Good argumentation. I believed that while the United States had noble objectives for invading Iraq,I was against it. With the lack of a democratic past, no concepts of free speech, and with severe sectarian hatred, The U.S. objectives in Iraq were naive. The governement in Iraq quite frankly is not different then the vast majority of governments in th Middle East. Mr. Eland gives another good arguement against the liberation of Iraq.

However the facist government of Iran is far from being respected and loved by Iranians. It's source of power is fear, so therefore the possiblility of internal change is very likely. When this does happen, I believe that truly great things will be possible in the Middle East.