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NYT: Iran Glad To Be Surrounded By US

I bet you didn’t know that being surrounded on two sides by the US military is viewed as a great thing by Iran’s ruling mullahs. You didn’t?

Well, sit back and let the New York Times explain to you how this is a terrible situation for us and just the ticket for Iran:

Explosions rock Saddam Hussein’s complex in central Baghdad during the U.S.-led “shock-and-awe” aerial campaign.

Guess Who Likes the G.I.’s in Iraq (Look in Iran’s Halls of Power)

By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: January 29, 2006

NOT long after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in 2003, a top aide to L. Paul Bremer III, then the head of the American occupation authority there, excitedly explained that Iraq had just become the front line in Washington’s effort to neutralize Iran as a regional force.

If America could promote a moderate, democratic, American-friendly alternate center of Shiite Islam in Iraq, the official said, it could defang one of its most implacable foes in the Middle East.

Iran, in other words, had for decades been both the theological center of Shiite Islam and a regional sponsor of militant anti-American Islamic groups like Hezbollah. But if westward-looking Shiites — secular or religious — came to power in southern Iraq, they could give the lie to arguments that Shiites had to see America as an enemy.

So far, though, Iran’s mullahs aren’t feeling much pain from the Americans next door. In fact, officials at all levels of government here say they see the American presence as a source of strength for themselves as they face the Bush administration.

In almost every conversation about Iran’s nuclear showdown with the United States and Europe, they cite the Iraq war as a factor Iran can play to its own advantage.

"America is extremely vulnerable right now," said Akbar Alami, a member of the Iran’s Parliament often critical of the government but on this point hewing to the government line. "If the U.S. takes any unwise action" to punish Iran for pursuing its nuclear program, he said, "certainly the U.S. and other countries will share the harm."

Iranians know that American forces, now stretched thin, are unlikely to invade Iran. And if the United States or Europe were to try a small-scale, targeted attack, t he proximity of American forces makes them potential targets for retaliation. Iranians also know the fighting in Iraq has helped raise oil prices, and any attempt to impose sanctions could push prices higher.

In addition, the Iranians have longstanding ties to influential Shiite religious leaders in Iraq, and at least one recently promised that his militia would make real trouble for the Americans if they moved militarily against Iran.

All of those calculations have reduced Iranian fears of going ahead with their nuclear program — a prospect that frightens not just the United States, Europe and Israel, but many of the Sunni Muslim-dominated nations in the region, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

In recent days, Iran has moved aggressively to restart its nuclear program, insisting that it is aimed only at research and producing energy. The United States and Europe, who remain suspicious of Iran’s intentions, are trying to block it, with cooperation from Russia and China, and have threatened to take Iran to the United Nations Security Council.

Disagreement between the West and Iran on this issue is not new. But Iran’s apparent confidence that it can move ahead with little risk of serious punishment is. It is part of a change in the way Iran has decided to address the world, abandoning a strategy of diplomatic compromise pursued by the reformist president Muhammad Khatami, who served from 1997 until last year.

The hard-line conservative, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was elected in June to replace Mr. Khatami, has joined the religious leadership in a policy of confrontation.

With the Americans stuck fighting a protracted, murky war in Iraq, the Iranians felt they were in a position to defy the West even over the nuclear issue.

A Western diplomat based in Tehran said that Iran’s recent behavior has been infuriating, an apparent effort to undermine the diplomatic process. The envoy said that in August, when Europe was about to offer what it called a compromise, the Iranians balked even before seeing the proposal.

"Before we even met, they said: ‘We know what’s in it. We know what we are looking for is not there,’ " the diplomat said, insisting on remaining anonymous so as not to antagonize Iranian authorities.

The West has tried to push back, but Iran has barely budged. Part of the reason, the diplomat said, is that "what was seen as power then may be seen as weakness now," referring to the American presence in Iraq.

This month, Iran welcomed the Iraqi cleric Muktada al-Sadr in a way that helped send just that message. The cleric’s militia, the Mahdi Army, rose up twice in 2004 against the American military. Mr. Sadr and his followers have since joined the political process in Iraq, but during his visit to Tehran he warned that any attack on Iran could inspire a response from his militia.

"If neighboring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the target of attacks, we will support them," he said in comments reported by The Associated Press. "The Mahdi Army is beyond the Iraqi Army. It was established to defend Islam."

Not all Iranians think their country’s aggressive drive to resume its nuclear program will work as a long-term strategy.

Iran’s influence in Iraq and Afghanistan has limits, said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a political science professor at Tehran University. "It might work as a deterrent for a military strike against Iran but it is not a deterrent to lift the pressure against Iran’s nuclear program."

Still, there is near unanimity in the government that the nuclear program should not be canceled. Nasser Hadian, a political science professor at Tehran University who said he has close ties with many in government, said there was a compromise among the core factions over how far to go in the nuclear program. Basically, he said, there is agreement to develop a weapons capability, but not to go as far as building a bomb.

The logic, he said, is based on an assessment that if Iran builds a bomb, it could set off an arms race in the Middle East that could "eventually undermine Iran’s conventional superiority if others, like Syria and Egypt, get the bomb."

 

Is there anyone in their right mind who doesn’t realize how much better positioned we now are to face down Iran than we would be if our closest military forces were "over the horizon in Okinawa"?

In fact, if we weren’t in Afghanistan and Iraq we’d be up the proverbial creek and paddle-less in the extreme in providing any credible deterrence to Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

Happily for everyone but America-haters like the Timesmen, we are actually in a fairly good strategic position to call the shots in Iran. But not to those military experts at The Times.

And mind you, this NYT article is not an editorial. It is presented as a news report. Yet it is laced with belly laughs like this:

And if the United States or Europe were to try a small-scale, targeted attack, the proximity of American forces makes them potential targets for retaliation.

This is simply Orwellian.

But the article does provide one insight.

It tells us just how far The Times is willing to pervert reality to try to aid and comfort our country’s enemies.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Sunday, January 29th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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