Saturday, August 16, 2008
Spengler on the Middle East
"America is stuck to the Iraqi tar baby, and becomes more entrapped the more it struggles. Iran's leverage inside Iraq, as I have warned for years, gives the Islamic republic room to bargain for its broader objectives. ... There are simply too many adherents of militant Islam to deal with the matter conveniently. Any solution today will be messy; a confrontation postponed for another half dozen years might cost eight figures' worth of lives. ... The outlook is grim, not least because the US State Department is repeating in Turkey the errors that helped bring Islamist governments to power in Iran and Pakistan. ... In advance of the November election, the Bush administration wants quiet in Iraq and quiescence in the oil market, and Tehran can help with both. That is why 'talks on Iran's nuclear program in Geneva indicated a shift of the US policy toward Iran on line with the Baker-Hamilton recommendations of 2006.' ... With all due respect to the US's military chief in Iraq and now also Central Command head, General David Peterus, diminished violence in Iraq is not due entirely to the skill of American arms. Without Iranian forbearance, the troop 'surge' would not seem as effective. ... As I wrote in October 2005 ... 'the probable outcome is that Washington will refrain from military action to forestall Iranian nuclear arms developments, while Tehran will refrain from disrupting Washington's Potemkin Village in Iraq. In this exchange, Iran gives up nothing of importance. ... What matters to Washington at the moment is Turkey's ability to create the appearance of progress in Middle Eastern diplomacy. ... The Middle East bears a strong comparison to Europe in the years before World War I. ... Israel is the only player in the region with the perspicacity and power to stop the slide towards regional war. The Jewish state may not have the capacity to eradicate Iran's nuclear development program, but it almost certainly has the means to set it back for a number of years. ... If Israel fails to act, the near-certain outcome will be a regional war on a scale dwarfing the Iran-Iraq war on the 1980s", Spengler at http://www.atimes.com/, 4 August 2008.
I love this guy. Why not? I agree with virtually every word he writes. We have no good options in the Middle East. Our troop "surge" only gave Iran "cover" to decrease the violence in Iraq temporarily. I doubt it did anything to further US interests.
Michael Rubin and John Bolton have been very critical of US policy with respect to Iran at the WSJ, 21 July and 5 August 2008. Bolton's piece is especially notable. Here's a link: http://online.wsj.com/article_print/SB121789278252611717.html.