To Win in Baghdad, Strike at Tehran

[Michael Ledeen makes the same point in The Time May Have Come]

Bush has been offered three options, “Go big, go long and go home”. Robert Tracinski (The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com. ) offers a fourth, “Go wide”.

[..]Going wide means recognizing that Iraq is just one front in a regional war against an Islamist Axis centered in Iran–and we cannot win that war without confronting the enemy directly, outside of Iraq.

Going wide means recognizing that the conflict in Iraq is fueled and magnified by the intervention of Iran and Syria. One of the reasons the Iraq Study Group report flopped was that its key recommendation–its one unique idea–was for America to negotiate with Iran and Syria in order to convince these countries to aid in the “stabilization” of Iraq. This proposal wasn’t so much argued to death as it was laughed to death, because it is clear that Iran and Syria have done everything they can to de-stabilize Iraq, supporting both sides of the sectarian conflict there.

It is obvious that both regimes have a profound interest in an American failure and retreat in Iraq.

[..] How can we quell the conflict in Iraq, further suppress the Sunni insurgents, and begin to dismantle the Shiite militias–if we don’t to anything to stop those who are funding, training, and supporting these enemies? Just as we can’t eliminate terrorism without confronting the states who sponsor terrorism, so we can’t suppress the Sunni and Shiite insurgencies in Iraq without confronting the outside powers who support these insurgents.

[..] Going wide also means recognizing that more is at stake in this war than just the fate of Iraq. This is a war to determine who and what will dominate the Middle East. Will this vital region be dominated by a nuclear-armed Iran, working to spread Islamic fascism? Or will America be able to exert its military influence and political ideals in the region?

[..] The big picture is Iran’s attempt to establish itself as a regional superpower, spreading its system of religious totalitarianism and rule by terror across the Middle East. Iraq is one piece in this malignant mosaic–but it is only one piece. The Iranians seek to extend their control over the region by supporting Shiite Islamist militias in Iraq. But they are also trying to achieve their goal by propping up the Assad regime in Syria, by arming Hezbollah in Lebanon, by arming and funding Hamas in the Palestinian territories, by hosting Holocaust denial conferences in an attempt to justify a war to destroy Israel, by harboring fugitive al-Qaeda leaders, and by supporting terrorists and anti-American strongmen (such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez) around the world.

In this context, to try to win the war just by sending more troops to Baghdad is like trying to save a patient by removing a tumor in his lung–when the cancer has already metastasized through his entire body.

A few of our leaders have put together the big picture. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, for example, Senator Lieberman warned that “while we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States.” Similarly, President Bush warned us last year that “the Iranian regime has clear aims: they want to drive America out of the region, to destroy Israel, and to dominate the broader Middle East.”

But these leaders have so far avoided advocating the use of military force against Iran. No one is willing to follow the implications of the big picture to the only rational conclusion: we are already in a regional war with Iran, and we need to start fighting it as a regional war. And the most effective place to fight that war is at its center, by targeting the Islamist regime in Tehran.

[..] The fact is that we are fighting the wrong war in the wrong place–though not in the way critics of that war complain. We are trying to fight a regional war by limiting ourselves to a local conflict–and we are fighting that war in Baghdad, when it has its source in Damascus and Tehran.

There is only one way to correct this massive strategic blunder–and that is to go wide.

January 5, 2007 | Comments Off on To Win in Baghdad, Strike at Tehran

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