Charles Krauthammer repeats a goofy but increasingly popular argument:

This is the new Middle East. Its strategic reality is clear to everyone: Iran rising, assisted, astonishingly, by the United States.

Unsurprisingly, Krauthammer is wrong on both counts. The few governments in the region aligned with Iran or relying on Iranian support have been significantly weakened in the last few years, and they have lost control of large sections of their countries to insurgencies. Almost all regional governments are opposed to Iran’s allies and proxies, and the slightest suspicion that the Houthis were Iranian proxies has prompted the appalling Saudi-led, U.S.-backed attack on Yemen. That is not a description of a state that is on the rise. Yet opponents of negotiations with Iran want to keep promoting this false story that Iran is “on the march” because they think this story would make a deal that restricts Iran’s nuclear program appear less desirable. In fact, if Iran were making great gains throughout the region, that would make the case for reaching a final nuclear deal that much more compelling, but the reality is that this isn’t happening. Since it isn’t happening, the U.S. can’t be helping to bring it about. There is no evidence that this administration has any intention of reaching such an arrangement with Iran.

Not only is the U.S. not assisting a “rising” Iran, but it is so eager to “reassure” its regional clients that it isn’t reaching an understanding with Iran that it is disgracefully aiding the Saudi-led coalition in battering Yemen. The Saudis are attacking Yemen at least partly out of excessive, baseless fear of increased Iranian influence, and the U.S. publicly sympathizes with their paranoia. Contrary to Saudi claims, Iran’s role in Yemen is trivial, but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. from indulging its clients in their massive and unwise overreaction to an imaginary Iranian takeover. If this is what “assisting” Iran looks like, I wouldn’t want to see what hostility involves.

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