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The Iran Obsession Is Getting Worse

President Trump and Supreme Leader Ali Khameinei. CreativeCommons, Shutterstock.

The Trump administration’s Iran obsession threatens to drag the U.S. into new and unnecessary conflict in Syria:

U.S. officials are wrestling with where and how to repel what they describe as a significant Iranian military expansion across the region, a development of increasing concern in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

“Our leadership has set as an objective not to allow Iran and its proxies to be able to establish a presence in Syria [bold mine-DL] that they can use to threaten our allies or us in the region,” one senior U.S. administration official said. “There are different ways to implement that, and we are still working through them.”

Syria is Iran’s main regional ally, and Iran and its proxies have firmly established their presence there over the last five years and more. It is the height of hubris to imagine that the U.S. is in a position “not to allow” something that has been happening at least since 2011. Even if it were within America’s power to keep Iran and its proxies out of Syria, it would come at an unacceptably high cost and it would be completely unnecessary for U.S. security. The “allies” that may be threatened by the presence of Iran and its proxies in Syria are more than capable of providing for their own defense. More to the point, they aren’t actually our allies and the U.S. is under no obligation to police Syria for their benefit.

I call the Trump administration’s fixation on and hostility towards Iran as an obsession because it is so clearly irrational and separated from any discernible U.S. security interest. If Iran and its proxies have an ongoing presence in Syria, that poses no threat to the U.S. American forces shouldn’t be put at risk to put a stop to it, and the sooner all American forces are withdrawn from Syria the better.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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