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Iran In Iraq: Clarity And Confrontation Or Appeasement?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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U.S. forces detained then released another group of Iranians in Iraq yesterday.  The president said yesterday that:

Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.

Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger before it is too late.

He added:

Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they’ve provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months — despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.

Some say Iran’s leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran’s leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.

What is Iran’s role in Iraq?  The Weekly Standard has just published The Iran Dossier,  by Kim Kagan.  The introduction:

Iran, and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, have been actively involved in supporting Shia militias and encouraging sectarian violence in Iraq since the invasion of 2003-and Iranian planning and preparation for that effort began as early as 2002. The precise purposes of this support are unclear and may have changed over time. But one thing is very clear: Iran has consistently supplied weapons, its own advisors, and Lebanese Hezbollah advisors to multiple resistance groups in Iraq, both Sunni and Shia, and has supported these groups as they have targeted Sunni Arabs, Coalition forces, Iraqi Security Forces, and the Iraqi Government itself. Their infl uence runs from Kurdistan to Basrah, and Coalition sources report that by August 2007, Iranian-backed insurgents accounted for roughly half the attacks on Coalition forces, a dramatic change from previous periods that had seen the overwhelming majority of attacks coming from the Sunni Arab insurgency and al Qaeda.

The Coalition has stepped-up its efforts to combat Iranian intervention in Iraq in recent months both because the Iranians have increased their support for violence in Iraq since the start of the surge and because Coalition successes against al Qaeda in Iraq and the larger Sunni Arab insurgency have permitted the re-allocation of resources and effort against a problem that has plagued attempts to establish a stable government in Iraq from the outset. With those problems increasingly under control, Iranian intervention is the next major problem the Coalition must tackle.

Today, Iran’s provocateur-in-chief, President Ahmadinejad, announced that “Today, Iran is a nuclear Iran. That means, it fully possesses the whole nuclear fuel cycle.”

Yesterday, Ahmadinejad went further:

“The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly,” Ahmadinejad said at a news conference, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation.”

Yesterday on the program, Thomas P.M. Barnett urged a regional settlement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, one that the U.S, could hurry along by ceasing all efforts to bring about Sunni-Shia reconciliation in Iraq.  When I pointed out that such a withdrawal from a portion of the U.S. mission could lead to genocide, Barnett asserted killing on a large scale was inevitable anyway, and that the killing had to precede the regional settlement.”[W]e’re going to get the same outcome whether it’s slow-motion or whether it’s fast,” Barnett argued.”[W]e need to compromise with the Iranians now to make the Iraq thing work, and squeeze them later on the Bomb as it ensues,” he went on. “By bundling those two things together, we’re guaranteeing that Iran’s going to fight us in Iraq, and I think that’s going to make our situation on a political basis untenable in the short run, and it’s going to, I’m more concerned about a reaction here in the United States than I am about the number of losses that I think are going to happen anyway in Iraq.”

His conclusion:

My argument would be if you do this in a slow motion, you’re going to get the same body count. It’s just going to be stretched over time. And I don’t know what the moral argument is on that one. 250,000 dead over a three year period versus over a six month period. You know, I don’t know where you come down morally on that one. They’re all preventable deaths, is my argument. We’re not making the diplomatic surge, which is unfortunate, in concert with the personnel surge, because I think we have been successful in Kurdistan, and continue to be, and I think we have been successful against Al Qaeda-Iraq. What we haven’t been able to do because we’re in the middle of a proxy war between Tehran and Riyadh is to stop those two powers from fighting. 

Barnett is a very smart guy, but there is in his recommendation more than an echo of indifference to a”a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing,” and a limitless belief in the efficacy of diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran.  There is also a rush to damn Bush rather than recognize that there wasn’t an alternative to toppling Saddam, and there isn’t an alternative now to confronting Iran.

And there is no way that America should countenance the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis because we are afraid to confront a fanatical regime next door led by a millenialist mullahs who clearly aim to remove Israel from the map in a blinding flash, a flash that will start a series of events too awful to contemplate.

When French President Sarkozy announced this week that we are approaching an unfortunate choice, “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran,” it was a candid and welcome assessment of where we are and the terrible choices ahead.  Iran does not want peace with the West, and Hezbollah on the north and Hamas to the south do not want peace with Israel, lying between them.  Both branches of militant, radical Islam do not want peace.  They want the war they have started to grow more intense and to spread.  Many within both branches of Islam oppose them.  We need to stand with our allies and confront the evil squarely, not run from it and hope it will moderate itself over a peace table that doesn’t exist, agreeing to terms that will never be written.

The alternatives for Americans are clarity about the war we find ourselves in and the nature of the enemy we are fighting, or appeasement followed by a renewed attack on us or a holocaust in the Middle East that won’t end as Dr. Barnett seems to think, with a few hundred thousand murdered in Iraq.

The hysterical anti-war group has completely cowed the Democrat Party, and the election of Hillary next year means the certain embrace of appeasement.  Either a Giuliani or a Romney presidency means the continuation of the resolve to meet the dual enemy on many fields with an American military much more experienced in the tactics of this war and with a growing number of allies in the Muslim world. 

I am hoping that reality and not wishful thinking governs the electorate a year from now.  The consequences of the return of the appeasement Democrats to the executive branch are too awful to fully imagine.

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