Michael Makovsky offers up an example of where the hard-line obsession with Iran leads:
Indeed, the principal vulnerability of Iran’s regional strategy is its dependence on brutal regimes to rule lands riven by ethno-sectarian fissures. The United States should exploit this vulnerability by supporting those forces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen that oppose Iran’s domination and seek greater self-determination or independence from the capitals. The result could be transforming these failed states into loose confederations or new countries with more borders that more naturally conform along sectarian lines.
Makovsky dresses this up as a proposal for “countering” Iran, but all that this would do is further shatter existing states at a high price in loss of life. The end result would be mass killing and forcible expulsion of the people that don’t have a place inside the new extremely artificial states defined by sect and ethnicity. Besides being morally abhorrent and completely divorced from any discernible U.S. security interest, Makovsky’s proposal would almost certainly fail in its stated goal of reducing Iranian influence.
Each time that Iran hawks concoct a half-baked plan to hurt Iran and weaken its position in the region, it reliably backfires and increases Iranian influence. Iran is in the position it is today largely because of dimwitted, short-sighted hawkish American plans to upend the existing political order in the region, and Makovsky would have the U.S. do more of the same. Trying to carve up existing countries in the hope of turning new statelets into obstacles to Iranian influence is obviously self-defeating. If Iran already has significant influence in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon today, its position in these places will tend to get stronger if those states are weakened by separatism and instability. The more that the U.S. encourages challenges to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these states, the more dependent on Iran their governments will tend to become. Because of a fanatical desire to oppose Iran at every turn, Iran hawks like Makovsky would make it that much easier for Iran to retain and expand their influence.
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