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The Destructive Iran Obsession

Michael Makovsky offers [1] 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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10 Comments To "The Destructive Iran Obsession"

#1 Comment By Christian Chuba On December 28, 2017 @ 7:44 am

There is no problem in the M.E. that cannot be solved by an American who doesn’t have to live there. If the first solution doesn’t work, we can just shake the Etch-a-sketch board and try again.

#2 Comment By Dependencies On December 28, 2017 @ 7:47 am

“Indeed, the principal vulnerability of Iran’s regional strategy is its dependence on brutal regimes to rule lands riven by ethno-sectarian fissures.”

But Iran doesn’t depend on most of the brutal regimes in the region that are “riven by ethno-sectarian fissures”. It doesn’t depend on Egypt, for example. It doesn’t depend on Iraq. It certainly doesn’t depend on Israel. Or Saudi Arabia. Or Turkey. Or Yemen.

Sadly, it is America rather than Iran that depends on those brutal regimes. Indeed, it is past time that we acknowledged that we don’t know what we’re doing in the Middle East, that we have made a terrible mess of it, and that we left the cleanup to regional actors. We no longer have any constructive role to play in the Middle East.

#3 Comment By Cash On December 28, 2017 @ 10:13 am

We need an opening to Teheran. That the US is talking to the Iranians gives us leverage with Israel and Saudi Arabia. It becomes harder for those two countries to make us do their bidding in the region.

My family members who have visited Iran are shocked to discover it’s one of the few (only) countries where ordinary people love Americans.

Nixon went to China. We need a president to go to Iran.

#4 Comment By Playfair On December 28, 2017 @ 11:06 am

What puzzles me is all these people who have who seem to have swallowed the absurd proposition that the US must do something about the Middle East.

We don’t have to do a damn thing over there. We have no friends there, that’s for damn sure, and the only thing we need from them is oil, which we can buy from whomever is selling it. We may not even need oil too much longer.

#5 Comment By SDS On December 28, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

Yes, Cash…..but that requires reasonable adults in positions of power and relevance….

Doesn’t appear we’re that lucky this season….

#6 Comment By rayray On December 28, 2017 @ 7:25 pm

@Playfair
100% agreed. Thing is, the biggest industry in the world is the fossil fuel industry. Literally the biggest profits every recorded in the history of capitalism were recorded by Exxon-Mobil.

If it weren’t for the lobbying and interventions of the oil industry we could get aggressive and be largely done with fossil fuels within a couple years. Solar is already cheaper than oil or coal for generating electricity so…

There is a quiet (because politically a non-starter) consensus in the intelligence community that Putin worked especially hard on Trump because of Trump’s love of fossil fuels (both coal and oil) which certainly helps Putin, who desperately needs to keep that hunger alive worldwide.

If the US should become a solar and wind leader in the world, the game would up fast. China, seeing an opening here, is investing heavily in alternative energy with an eye to dominating the market with the next five years.

Needless to say, we all know that Trump is a tool, just to keep up: a tool of the military, AIPAC, the fossil fuel industry, and Mr. Vladimir Putin.

#7 Comment By Clyde Schechter On December 28, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

“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.”

Expecting neocons to consider morality, actual US security interests, or likelihood of success when formulating policy makes about as much sense as expecting elephants to show an interest in poetry.

#8 Comment By john On December 28, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

If we chuck a few Tomahawks at Iran, what happens? Basically nothing, except we strengthen the position of the regime hardliners, drive up the price of oil (good for Vlad) separate ourselves further from Europe (good for Vlad) increase Russian weapons sales to Iran (GFV).

If we go full on regime change?

#9 Comment By b. On December 29, 2017 @ 11:59 am

“completely divorced from any discernible U.S. security interest”

I continue to maintain that the unwritten “strategy” informing US foreign policy is “scorched earth”, the recognition that US impunity of action across the globe is no longer possible unless sovereign nations capable of any kind of resistance are forcibly turned into “failed” states.

Democracy at gunpoint cannot possibly fail to uphold the Peace of Westphalia, it can only be failed by the peoples so “liberated”. Nation building is an act of “creative destruction”, opened markets requiring first to tear down the existing local order – no matter how much this erodes what remains of the international order “undertaken” by the US.

#10 Comment By Youknowho On December 30, 2017 @ 12:23 am

If we had a sensible, rational foreign policy, we would make friends with Iran.

That’s a big IF these days..