Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Monday that, “Iran will deliver a telling blow to global powers on Feb. 11.” What this “blow” will be is anyone’s guess, though it would seem safe to say that it will have something to do with the Iranian nuclear program and their development of an advanced missile armament. Ahmadinejad’s statement comes almost in perfect conjunction with the White House’s decision to deploy Patriot missile shields in the Middle East and to bulk up the naval presence in the Persian Gulf. What this is an example of though, and ultimately a result of, is the American habit of behaving like a bull in a china shop. The projection of American power in the Middle East has set into motion the law of unintended consequences.
If our nation’s leaders were more avid readers of Sun Tzu then perhaps they would better understand the possible repercussions of the actions they have committed to (saber rattling, sanctions, and war). We have misunderstood ourselves and horribly underestimated our enemies. The aggressive actions of the United States has caused a whole slew of new problems, from aggressive reactions from regional powers (Iran), to new nations seeking to project power into the region (Russia), to the dispersal of terrorist groups to other neighboring nations. Greg Scoblete outlines this problem in a post at Real Clear Politics:
But notice what has not happened as a result of the progress to date in Iraq: a diminution of the al Qaeda threat. Instead, that threat is where it always was, tied to a Taliban insurgency in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and creeping out into Yemen and Somalia.
The net result of the Iraq war from a counter-terrorism perspective has been to give Arab terrorists a first hand seminar in urban warfare, skills they are now delivering to the Taliban to sow death against U.S. and NATO forces. There is not much in the way of evidence that I’m aware of to suggest that progress in creating a democratic regime in Iraq is having any influence over the global terrorist movement. And at the end of the day, wasn’t that the point of the endeavor?
As the years pass from our initial invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the collection of errors grows, as well as their consequences. The destabilization of Iraq allowed Iran to grow as a regional power and act as proxy to Russian interests in the Middle East. Our nation-building efforts in Afghanistan have pushed Taliban forces into Pakistan causing great instability in both the Pakistani government (a nuclear power I might add) and among the villages that rest along the Afghan-Pakistani border. And now, we have become aware that Iran may be ready to announce membership to the global nuclear club, and Yemen has once again spiraled into becoming a hotbed for terrorists and international criminals. We are a bull in a china shop, or perhaps better, we are the anti-King Midas, everything we touch falls apart.