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Iran’s Iraq strategy

This piece presents it as almost entirely defensive, which doesn’t account for Iran’s activities elsewhere in the Middle East. And it says nothing about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In those respects, it reminds me of the efforts to explain post World War II Soviet moves in terms of its "legitimate" defensive concerns.

Discussions - 7 Comments

We all recall how our academics portrayed every Soviet action as primarily defensive. J.F. Revel took that a priori disposition to task, in his magisterial "How Democracies Perish?" A book that is as instructive today, as it was then. AND THAT’S saying something....

Our establishment will do anything to avoid what can’t be avoided. We’re on a collision course with Tehran.

Instead of wasting time trying to diplomatically dodge what is inevitable, we should be making sure that when that confrontation occurs, it’s the regime in Tehran that gets flattened, and not us.

Of course, that’s a little too much common sense, that type of attitude isn’t apt to meet with the approval of the Ivy Leaguers.

Ya can’t help but get the idea that many an ostensibly educated person out there is trying desperately to carve some "solution" that doesn’t involve an American "victory." I placed victory in quotation marks because they’re fond of doing so. It smacks the right distance, the right pose, it takes the proper tack. It demonstrates that the author of the piece isn’t tethered to the success of the United States, but is in that rarefied air of internationalism, where he breathes an air that is pristine, untainted by nationalism, national interest or any other concern of a yahoo.

Why even post this nonsense? Why not link to something worth reading?

True Right, I think a lesson of the last five years is that certain forms of crafted nonsense can be very politically potent, and that foreign-policy moderates and conservatives are apt to underestimate them. In this article, besides the overall "legitimate interests" tone Joe notices, we notice two arguments being tried out. 1) One must make a very bright distinction between Iran supplying EFPs and other designed-for-combat-against-US-forces weapons, and Iran authorizing attacks by proxies. Of course it is a real distinction, upon which major diplomatic bargaining could ride, but note: in future disputes about Iran, "hawks" are going to be pilloried for loosely saying "Iran is attacking us," or "Iran is our enemy" when there is "NO PROOF" of "ordered attacks by proxies!!!!" That is, it’s going to be the accusation that "hawks" blamed 9-11 on Saddam and thus duped America all over again. 2) Look at the author’s last paragraph. He says Iran’s ability to control events in Iraq and to set-up new Hezbollahs there will remain in place so long as our forces remain there, but when we leave, Iran is likely to find it can’t control the situation. Therefore, we hurt Iran’s interests by high-tailin’ it home, and help them by remaining there.

We’re going to be hearing these arguments for a while. Best to take them seriously now the better to refute them.

I think you’re unfair to the author - he discusses Hezbollah in detail - but I do like your comparison, albeit for a different reason. U.S. GDP is more than 20 times greater than Iran’s GDP today; in 1950, U.S. GDP was about 2.5 as great as the USSRs. (See here.) Because of our policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran is now an important regional power, but still only a regional power. There is no wave of Shiite revolution sweeping the world. Iran’s defense budget in 2005 was $6.8 billion, whereas ours was $518 billion, or 76 times Iran’s. (See here.)
The U.S. and USSR were closer to parity in 1950. And, of course, there were those Soviet tanks in Berlin and elsewhere.

Given our overwhelming power and our recent history and rhetoric, don’t you think that a defensive narrative is plausible? Recall, as well, that we were the aggressor in Iraq, both as a matter of perception and, almost without dispute, as a matter of international law (and the war was, in fact, defended as such here at home - "Iraq and roll" and all that).

Strategic thinking requires a certain kind of sympathetic analysis. I wouldn’t trust Hugh Hewitt to do that, because he’d think it’s unpatriotic. I hope you’re not in that camp, Joseph!

Brett, Iraq violated the terms of the Cease Fire ending the first Gulf War. Thus by law, we were entitled to resume hostilities immediately, WITHOUT gaining additional international approval at the UN.

Just because George Bush didn’t highlight that particular aspect in his overall public relations case against Saddam, doesn’t mean that it should be ignored when speaking of "international law."

We didn’t want for any legal basis when we removed Saddam. Those that suggest so are either ignorant of the facts, ignorant of the law, or, being deliberately dishonest.

So which one are you?

Dan: Nice theory, but in dispute, and rightly so. Thanks for the insults.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=432561

Every single time that Iraq fired SAMs at our aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones they violated the cease fire. According to the terms of that cease fire, such violation allowed the United States to immediately resume hostilities, without additional international approval. Because such international approval was ALREADY encompassed within the terms of the cease fire.

You suggest that’s all "theory." It’s not theory. Just because the United States did not resume full hostilities for the various breaches of the cease fire DOESN’T mean the United States lacked the full legal right to do so. Failure to avail yourself of a legal right does not necessarily mean the forfeiture of such legal right, particularly when it comes to assessing the breach of cease fire obligations.

I don’t understand what you’re missing here. It’s rather cut and dried. We’re not talking securities regulations.

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