Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Did the Iraq war help Iran?

Pat Buchanan:

A preliminary list of winners and losers from our invasion seems to show that it is our enemies who have prospered and our friends who have suffered. As of today, the principal winner of the Iraq war is Iran.

While our invasion of Afghanistan smashed a Taliban regime hostile to Iran, our invasion of Iraq was even more beneficial. It brought down a Baathist regime that had inflicted hundreds of thousands of casualties on Iran in their 8-year war in the 1980s. In power in Baghdad today, in place of Saddam, is a Shia regime that looks to Iran as patron and ally.

In 2001, Iranians had demonstrated in support of the United States after 9-11, and in successive elections, a moderate presidential candidate had carried 70 percent of the vote. The Tehran mullahs were on the ropes.

But with Bush declaring Iran an "axis-of-evil" nation, which was to be denied, even if it meant preventive war, any nuclear program or weapon of mass destruction, Iranians responded as nationalists. A hard-liner won the presidency, and Tehran's defiance is now a popular policy. Meanwhile, the U.S. threat of military strikes to effect the nuclear castration of Iran becomes less and less credible the longer the war next door goes on.

With Iraq smashed and perhaps splintering after we depart, Tehran is set to fill the power vacuum. History may yet record that the U.S. Army did all the heavy lifting in the Persian Gulf to make Iran its pre-eminent power.

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