Sunday, July 16, 2006

Connecting the Dots

The Hand That Feeds the Fire

There's little new here, but it offers a view of recent history, and is a useful tool for connecting the dots.

Bush's decision to invade Iraq as part of the "global war on terror" made America a party to the conflicts on the ground as never before. Saddam Hussein's regime, loathsome as it was, provided a strategic balance to the power of a radicalized Iran. Now the invasion has put Washington head-to-head with Tehran. The confrontation is military, economic, political, ideological, direct and indirect, overt and covert—and on several fronts the Iranians appear to have outmaneuvered the administration. Prominent Iranian journalist Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, who is also an expert on Lebanese affairs, suggests that Tehran's next step, far from making war, will be to present itself as a peacemaker. "This will present another opportunity to show its regional power," he said. [emphasis added]

At the foreign ministers' meeting in Paris last week, there was general consternation at the Iranian-backed violence on the ground in the Middle East. "But what can we do?" one senior European diplomat asked. "It's all part of the same problem [with Iran], but we cannot tackle it all 'cosmologically.' We have to take it on piece by piece." Each set of players linked to Iran has its own interests, and the Tehran regime itself seems seriously divided. The Iranian challenge is not a Gordian knot that can be sliced through in one bold stroke. It's a bag full of knots, each of which has to be untied and, if possible, untangled from the rest.


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