Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Our Friends the Iranians

Iran Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi recently was quoted by the AP as saying "Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club. This is an irreversible path." This is yet another reason for the U.S. to have a strong military presence is the Middle East. Negotiations with Iran, like our recent negotiations with Libya, will undoubtedly take a different tone with over 100,000 U.S. troops poised in the region.

Discussions - 2 Comments

I don’t disagree with your main point that a strong US military presence in the Middle East should be an important component of our foreign policy towards Iran and other nations. It seems crystal clear. At the very least, we’ve shown the countries of the Middle East that we are willing (and eager) to fight any fight that we deem necessary on our own terms; we’ve gained valuable practical experience and intelligence about operating in Muslim communities and territories in the Middle East; and we’ve established a physical presence in the area that could set the stage for future operations in other countries, if need be.

But at the moment 100,000 American troops don’t seem to be "poised" to do anything except continue their difficult work establishing a stable, peaceful, and democratic Iraq. I am not a pessimist about the situtation in Iraq, but your own posts make it clear that the work is difficult, dangerous, expensive, time-consuming, and far from over. It is work worth doing and worth doing right, but no one seems eager to take on similar challenges in other nations at this point, especially in a place where the work would probably be much harder than it is in Iraq. It seems reasonable to assume that the Iranians know this, too. I am not suggesting that the Iranians would actually try to go nuclear while we are occupied with occupying Iraq, but I am suggesting that they feel free at this point to engage in a certain amount of rhetorical posturing in order to attempt to gain some advantage in a negotiated solution.

David: There is obviously greater complexity to the situation than I was able or even trying to convey in a couple of short sentences. That said, I can tell you from the experience of troops near the Iranian border that the Iranians are clearly nervous about the new found military strength in the region provided by the Coalition. Iran had built itself up to the point where it was virtually unchecked in the region. While the Iranians certainly recognize the limitations of the current level of US forces, the US presence in Iraq certainly changes the negotiating posture from one in which the US would have to make a bold political move to assert its influence in the region, to one in which the US would need to shift more resources to an area where it already has a significant presence. As one leading Iraqi politician told me, the surrounding countries like Iran and Syria have put a great deal of pressure on Iraqis to limit continued US military control. As he said, they saw the pictures of Saddam detained, and feared for their own fate, given their own fanaticism. In his words, "Quadafi got the message." I am not so naive as to believe that it will be just that easy with Iran, but it does completely alter the dynamics of the negotiations from a situation in which the only alternative appeared to be a redux of Osirac (sp?) to one in which diplomacy may be able make some gains.

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