Saturday, July 07, 2007

Iran's Middle East Offensive Against America

Senator Joseph Lieberman published a powerful essay in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Lieberman chronicle's Tehran's proxy offensive against the United States, and asks if Congress will respond. Top U.S. military officials reported this week that Iran has been sponsoring Hezbollah militants as fighters in Iraq, and Iran's elite Quds units have been training Islamist terrrorist cells in bases near Tehran:

These latest revelations should be a painful wakeup call to the American people, and to the U.S. Congress. They also expand on a steady stream of public statements over the past six months by David Petraeus, the commanding general of our coalition in Iraq, as well as other senior American military and civilian officials about Iran's hostile and violent role in Iraq. In February, for instance, the U.S. military stated that forensic evidence has implicated Iran in the death of at least 170 U.S. soldiers.

Iran's actions in Iraq fit a larger pattern of expansionist, extremist behavior across the Middle East today. In addition to sponsoring insurgents in Iraq, Tehran is training, funding and equipping radical Islamist groups in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan--where the Taliban now appear to be receiving Iranian help in their war against the government of President Hamid Karzai and its NATO defenders.

While some will no doubt claim that Iran is only attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq because they are deployed there--and that the solution, therefore, is to withdraw them--Iran's parallel proxy attacks against moderate Palestinians, Afghans and Lebanese directly rebut such claims.

Iran is acting aggressively and consistently to undermine moderate regimes in the Middle East, establish itself as the dominant regional power and reshape the region in its own ideological image. The involvement of Hezbollah in Iraq, just revealed by Gen. Bergner, illustrates precisely how interconnected are the different threats and challenges we face in the region. The fanatical government of Iran is the common denominator that links them together.

No responsible leader in Washington desires conflict with Iran. But every leader has a responsibility to acknowledge the evidence that the U.S. military has now put before us: The Iranian government, by its actions, has all but declared war on us and our allies in the Middle East.
Be sure to read the whole thing. Lieberman's a national treasure. I wish he was one of the frontrunners for the presidential nomination next year, party identification be damned. But check out the additional, incisive analysis on the nature of Iran's global gambit over at Jules Crittenden's page. Here's some flavor:

We are engaged in an evolving, multi-generational war. It’s about oil, though not in the way the disengagement camp likes to say it is. It’s about ideology, domination and imperialism, but in exactly the opposite way that the disengagers like to say it is.
Via The Oxford Medievalist, I also liked this probing entry from the Washington Examiner. The Examiner suggest there are two options for dealing with nuclear-armed rogue states, like Iran and North Korea, negotiation or the use of military force. Here's more:

The problem with negotiation is that the political leverage that comes with being a nuclear power is simply too great....

For the fanatically driven Iranian regime, acquiring nukes has equal appeal but for different reasons. Nuclear power would give Tehran the means of raining destruction on its enemies, beginning with Israel, a nation the United States is absolutely committed to protecting. Iran’s lunatic leaders thus see having nukes as giving them a power more desirable than any monetary or diplomatic compensation the United States could ever hope to provide.

But does that mean America should use its military power against these rogue nations? The United States theoretically has more than enough technological and military might to defeat foreign aggressors in most conceivable scenarios. The problem is that over the past 40 years, many of the elite ranks of American leadership have demonstrated an avowed preference for avoiding unpleasant engagements, regardless of the consequences. This determination to avoid conflict at every turn and the inevitable unpopularity of conflicts we do engage in (such as Iraq and Vietnam) makes us less threatening to those who constantly seek to measure the depth of our will.
I've been advocating on this page precision military airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. But as The Oxford Medievalist has noted (in comments at Tiger Hawk, and elsewhere), limited airstrikes would only delay Iran's weapons development program, not eradicate it. To completely eliminate Iran's nuclear threat we'd need to mount a full-scale invasion of the country, holding back nothing in a campaign of scorched-earth devastation. That sounds intense, but it's something to contemplate, in any case.

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