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Iran’s regional position is key to its strength
August 23, 2006 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Iran's influence in Iraq has superseded that of the US, and it is increasingly rivalling the US as the main actor at the crossroads between the Middle East and Asia... As a result, the US-driven agenda for confronting Iran is severely compromised by the confident ease with which Iran sits in its region... The report also looks into the ideology of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and unpicks Iran’s complicated power structure. It claims that despite his popularity, Ahmadinejad neither holds an insurmountable position within Iran nor commands universal support for his outspoken foreign policy positions... On hostility with the US, the report argues that while the US may have the upper hand in ‘hard’ power projection, Iran has proved far more effective through its use of ‘soft' power. The report also holds a cautious view of the Iran-Israel relationship. It outlines four future scenarios for the relationship between the two states, one of which is the creation of a ‘cold-war’ style nuclear stand-off should Iran achieve nuclear capability.
Iran, its Neighbours and the Regional Crises
(full report in pdf)
See also Iran now the key power in Iraq, says UK think-tank
See also Iran 'boosted by war on terror'
posted by y2karl (21 comments total)

 
Nuclear Apocalypse milder than expected
posted by homunculus at 11:58 AM on August 23, 2006


Nuclear Apocalypse milder than expected

I had no idea the Wall Street Journal had trolled such FOX News-like depths to be harbingers of doom. Either their circulation numbers are really bad or their readers really are nutty nuts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:06 PM on August 23, 2006


Kristol: ‘We Could Be In A Military Confrontation With Iran Much Sooner Than People Expect’
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on August 23, 2006


Just awesome diplomatic maneuvering by the Iranian government over the past few years. That thing with Hizballah last month was really a coup. It's alarming to see US foreign policy being run circles around with such alacrity. The strategy of non-engagement is serving to isolate us, not Iran.

How the hell did the PNAC strategists not see this angle? It really makes them seem like the naive foreign policy dilettantes we all suspect they are....


Anyway, here's my strategy for fighting the "war on terror". Probably would have worked five years ago; might still work, though I doubt it. First, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs to be put to bed. It is the central source of US/Muslim tension. In the first months of 2002 (back when we still had credibility), the US gov't should have been leaning as hard as diplomatically possible on both parties to reach a two-state solution. We could have had something concrete in place by now, maybe with UN troops guarding the frontiers. Next, Islamic radicalism needs to be turned against itself. Go all CIA on them if necessary: do everything possible to fuel Sunni/Shia conflict. Isolate Iran regionally, put Hizballah into conflict with local moderate Sunni governments, let Iraq go all to hell (it would have been blamed on Iran and Sadaam, instead of us). Meanwhile, engage with Iran diplomatically, making moderation and engagement with the West a favorable alternative to regional conflict.

It's probably too late, but I think that would have been a good idea.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2006


That thing with Hizballah last month was really a coup.

After the intelligence debacle of Iraq's "missing WMDs" our country no longer has any standing in the world. Worse, our American empire can't be seen to get its hands dirty with the blood and guts of a global conflict.

We carpet bomb countries when we don't like leaders of countries with natural resources our corporations need, and get other countries like Israel to do the bloody work of warring with other nations like Lebanon and Iran that don't bow down to our will.

This latest attempt to get Israel to declare war on Iran on our behalf failed miserably and is the only reason Bill "Propi" Kristol is now warmongering.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 PM on August 23, 2006


So far, I have yet to see a single proponent of the war with Iran that does not have protecting/strengthening Israel as its core component. Blazecock seems to think it's the other way around (that we're trying to get Israel to fight our war), but I am unsure.

It seems in general the entire world would benefit from Iran NOT having a nuke, that much is clear. What is less clear is who would actually benefit from a war designed to stop that.
posted by cell divide at 12:49 PM on August 23, 2006


It's alarming to see US foreign policy being run circles around with such alacrity.

If nothing else, I hope this serves to re-mystify the Presidency and the various cabinet posts to report to it as well as the entire U.S. diplomatic apparatus. I think Powell, Albright and their predecessors made a lot of incredibly difficult work look too easy. Thinking you could put a hack like Condolleeza Rice in there, who can do nothing but kowtow to the President, was a huge error (among many) in management and judgment.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 12:53 PM on August 23, 2006


the creation of a ‘cold-war’ style nuclear stand-off should Iran achieve nuclear capability

Would that be likely with two states like this?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:54 PM on August 23, 2006


It's hard to see any option for the Bush administration other than bombing and/or invading Iran. By that I mean, it's the only way to muddle the obvious foreign policy failures they've made. For the neo-cons, what's the downside in prompt (maybe post mid-term election) military action against Iran? It's not like they'll be particularly less electable. The political group it will hurt the most is traditional conservatives.

Is the recent call up of IRR marines a warning sign on this?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:55 PM on August 23, 2006


It was obvious to many people who think about such matters that Iran would be the winner once we got Saddam out of power. As for Iran and its nukes: alas, they hold all the cards now. They are swimming in oil money; they are now dominating the region among Muslim nations. We can not have a land war withthem and bombing ils not going to remove nuke facilities (too widespread in where they are); and, clearly, they have no intention of giving in to sanctions--even if Chin a dn Russian side with us, which is not likely...sanctions do not work.

An earlier comment suggested that we should have pressed for pece between Israel and the Palestinians. We did with the Road, but that for a variety of reasons did not happen, through fault of the American govt.
posted by Postroad at 2:19 PM on August 23, 2006


Postroad, why do you think we can't have a land war with Iran?

Oh, and I'm thankful that Iran is too busy trying to oppress the Kurds to realize that if they recognize Kurdistan as a free state (both within their own borders in Kurdish dominated regions, and within Iraqi borders), the wheels would really come off in Iraq. Iran could easily arm Kurds to create a proxy war with America in Iraq, and also weaken the Sunnis. If Kurdistan ever seceded from Iraq it might allow for a Shi'ite secession as well. At that point we might be hard pressed to keep the Shi'ite territory from joining Iran.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:41 PM on August 23, 2006


Postroad, why do you think we can't have a land war with Iran?

Probably has to do with it being between Quebec and Alaska in size (over 3.5 times larger than Iraq). ...well, I guess we could have a land war with Iran, the same sense that we could nuke London.

the wheels would really come off in Iraq.

Not to mention in Turkey.
posted by MikeKD at 3:10 PM on August 23, 2006


Is land size a factor in modern warfare? If anything, I'd think it would almost be a disadvantage in tank country. Larger more porous fronts to punch through and exploit. The arguable 15 million men fit for military duty between 18 and 49 seems like it would be more of a factor, but we have a huge force multiplier with our military technology advantage.

The real issue is that we could achieve no lasting victory in Iran without permanant occupation and/or genocide.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:42 PM on August 23, 2006


I'd think it would almost be a disadvantage in tank country

Iran isn't good tank country. Iran is one of the world's most mountainous countries (map 1, map 2).
posted by kirkaracha at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2006


Thanks, I just read that on the case for invading Iran, and felt rather silly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:58 PM on August 23, 2006


Jesus, I just read the case for invading Iran, and it's completely, barking mad. If this is representative of the the thinking in the White House, there's a good reason a substantial proportion of the world considers the USA to be the greatest threat to world peace.
posted by salmacis at 1:03 AM on August 24, 2006


Those opposed to nuclear annihilation are appeasers and guilty of "handwringing"
posted by homunculus at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2006


homunculus: Oh, man I can hardly express how furious that Walter Williams article makes me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:16 PM on August 24, 2006


Yeah, I couldn't even finish it. Bleah.
posted by homunculus at 3:08 PM on August 24, 2006


Deja Vu?
posted by homunculus at 3:08 PM on August 24, 2006


Yes To India, No To Iran: Bush Administration Sends Contradictory Message On Nuclear Programs
posted by homunculus at 3:28 PM on August 24, 2006


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