Monday, June 13, 2005

What's the deal with Iran?

On Tim Russert's Meet the Press, Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania started to decry Iran as the real reason why we're having so much trouble in Iraq. But that confuses me, so let me think through it. Iran is a Shi'ite religious state. The dominant political force in Iraq right now is the alliance between secular and Shia politicians. Sunni agitators represent the major source of the insurgency, according to most non-Weldon analysts. Here's Weldon's description of the situation:
In fact, as we talked with the Iraqi officials and we met with the speaker of the parliament, the prime minister, the defense minister, the two generals in charge of the Iraqi military, the chairman of the constitutional writing authority, we heard a common theme, that Syria may have the largest number from outside of Iraqi country, but Iran overwhelmingly has the quality behind the insurgency. And we've got to come to grips with that.

So is Iran's strategy: "Bog down American forces in Iraq with an insurgency"? That would make sense. Actually, this is making more and more sense as I think about it. You give aid to a "Sunni" insurgency in order to bloody the United States, but keeping the insurgency small enough to prevent it from ever posing a serious threat to the incoming Shi'ite government. Then, once the United States is out, you pull the plug on the insurgency in a way that makes the Shi'ite government seem more effective at protecting Iraqis than the Americans. That's a huge propaganda victory, and fuels anti-American feelings coupled with pro-Iraqi back-patting, the kind of nationalism that can really cause problems for us big super powers.

Well, if that's the Iranian strategy, then I'm impressed—that's a complex waltz of tactics to put in motion. If Rep. Weldon's blowing smoke up our collective asses in order to foment American feelings against Iran, then he's pretty jam stupid. Somehow I don't think that's what he's doing. And maybe Iran doesn't have the long-term strategy in mind that I laid out. Maybe they just enjoy screwing with us.

P.S. I'm going to be posting regularly now.


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