Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't we have enough problems in the region, Joe?

Senator Lieberman is getting a lot of press in the last few days by suggesting that it might be time for us to make military strikes against Iran, not primarily because of its nuclear program or because it has detained Iranians who are also citizens of other countries (e.g., the US), claiming that they are in fact spies--this move is reminiscent of Iran's recent trials of its own clearly innocent Jewish citizens as spies for Israel--but because of their support for insurgent groups and militias in Iraq.

Now, I don't think that Iran's government is one with which we can have meaningful dialogue, but I also don't think that the wisest move in this region is to take on another (and larger and more populous) country to cap off the astounding success we have made of the Iraq invasion. If Iran is supporting militias (and they undoubtedly are), they are doing so with the blessing of at least some of the Shiite players in the government. And, recall, that we praised Iraq for electing just this government.

Moreover, attacking Iran for its role in conflicts in a third country could only be legally justified if we are requested to do so by the aggrieved party. Since we are consistently claiming not to be occupying Iraq any longer, but merely supporting its government, we would need to have such a request from the Iraqi government. It seems unlikely that this will be forthcoming.

Finally, many observers seem to think that the Iranian regime is not wildly popular with the very young population--young because of the lost generations of the Iran-Iraq War. That might just mean that Iran will ultimately fall to internal pressures. God knows if they didn't have oil revenues--not that we ought to limit our reliance on oil!--they would have fallen already; huge social spending is all that keeps the largely unemployed population content. However, an attack on their land would probably be just what the mullahs need to gain more support from the people. Even anti-Nazis cried when Dresden was fire-bombed, even opponents of the miliary dictatorship mourned the loss of naval cadets in the Falklands.

Saber rattling is fine and dandy when you don't need your saber in another battle. I'm not sure that shaking ours now isn't just what Iran wants.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Tyler: their current pogrom is to exterminate the land of Israel. How can we stand by and have them build whatever weapons of mass destruction or unified destruction at their will. We know they're progressing along, (unlike Saddam and Bush's validation to enter Iraq) and are a much larger threat then we could ever imagine. Without, spilling our own blood there, the reality is to continue to appeal to the country's secularists/ intellectuals to pull off an anti-1979 Kohmeini revolution. How can we do this??

Tyler Hower said...

That all seems well and good if you ignore the role that our intervention in Iran in the past had in leading to the Khomeini revolution--overthrowing their government and reinstalling the Shah didn't play out so well for us--and if we could accurately predict what would happen in Iran if we hit their bases. The big problem is that the current president of Iran, at least, is a millenialist, so he might just be willing to start a nuclear war. I think that we are most likely to do is radicalize that part of the Iranian population that is not already strongly anti-American. Moreover, I am pretty sure that we will once more fulfil all the claims that we really are engaged in a world-wide war on Islam. We will be fighting them there to guarantee that we have to fight them here. You assume that we will do this one right--I have seen so little evidence that we are capable of intervening in ways that lead to the desired consequences that I am suspicious that we should try.

Tyler Hower said...

If our reason for striking them is going to be a defense of Israel--and I do not deny that the current regime is a threat to the nation of Israel--we at least need to be up front about that. But of course, it might just seem better for us to promise our support for a strike by Israel itself. I know that that too would lower our esteem in the Islamic world, but at least it would be honest.

Unknown said...

Did anyone ever comment here that Putin did his doctoral work on forming a anti-OPEC aliance with Iran, Russia, and Veunezuela as primary suppliers to CHINA?

Short term issues of the annialation of Israel (I mean, for how many thousands of years have someone been trying that? It's so on-again, off-again.) aside, I think real posturing has to do with making sure that the United States, and our friendly western allies, have got the market cornered on oil for the next 30 years. Since presumeably we passed peak oil a while ago, and Africa is NEVER going to allow western countries to build (China's largest international development effort; in military and economic assistance, btw).

Bouncing the mullahs around is election year politics. The middle east is all about throttling china's economic development to the economic advantage of the United States, and to a lesser degree, our allies.