Monday, July 17, 2006

Klein and Kristol on Bush's failed Iran policy

I find myself agreeing with Joe Klein and Bill Kristol that the Bush adminsitration's policy toward Iran has been weak and ineffective. If nothing else, it certainly gives that appearance.

Says Klein:

But it is also clear now that a major consequence of George W. Bush's disastrous foreign policy has been an emboldened Iran. The U.S. "has been Iran's very best friend," a diplomat from a predominantly Sunni nation told me recently. "You have eliminated its enemies, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. You have even reduced yourselves as a threat to Iran because you have spent so much blood and treasure in Iraq."

Now Kristol:

For while Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel, they are also enemies of the United States. We have done a poor job of standing up to them and weakening them. They are now testing us more boldly than one would have thought possible a few years ago. Weakness is provocative. We have been too weak, and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak.

While I agree with Klein that our Iran policy has so far failed, I don't agree with him on the details. There is no doubt the elimination of Saddam on the west and the Taliban on the east has given the Iranian mullahocracy some breathing room. I'm sure the administration was aware that this would be case. I think the decision to take out two brutal regimes proves far more effective than propping them up to keep Iran boxed in to ensure the survival of the status quo. The latter would only create an illusion of stability, while the former can lay the groundwork for fundamental change.

He also condemns Bush et al for not being assertive in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I believe that all past efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully have been noble, but we have been too willing to concede that this is the ultimate source of unrest in the Middle East. While it is one of the most important, it is not the only reason for so much turmoil.

I tend to agree with Kristol's take. I intrepret it as claiming nothing is wrong with the policy, but that its implementation has conveyed weakness. Further, Kristol calls for US strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities much sooner rather than later. He adds a call for GWB to leave St. Petersburg and fly directly to Jerusalem to stand in solidarity with Israel.

One thing to remember, especially for Iran, is that in the past other hostile powers have percieved the US as weak. History has proven that what belligerants saw as weakness was actually the ponderousness of our system. Some of those past enemies are now among our closest allies and it's not because we were just a bunch of nice guys.


Blogger sam's notes said...

Then there's George Friedman, who says Iran is boosting Hezbollah because it sees American success in Iraq and against al Qaeda....

Blogger Glenn said...

While diplomacy has so far failed in reaching any type of solution on Iran, their confidence may be a facade. They have to know what we're capable of if we get serious.


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