Thursday, April 10, 2008

Iran's Stake in Iraq

One more rehashed thing that we saw come out of this week's hearings is the knee-jerk reflex from many on he right to blame the media Iran for anything bad that has happened in Iraq. These folks choose to ignore that it was Iran which acted as the intermediary in brokering the recent ceasefire. Or that it was our allies in the Iraqi government who rolled out the red carpet just last month when the much-reviled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came for an official state visit.

But also ignored, Matthew Yglesias argues, are the reasons why Iran might be getting itself involved in what is happening in Iraq. After all, the notion that Iran wants a destabilized clusterfuck of a country right next door is illogical. He writes-
"Iran is adjacent to Iraq. The United States has no diplomatic relations with Iran, and the U.S. government has branded Iran a member of the 'axis of evil' and suggested that we are aiming to overthrow the Iranian government. Under the circumstances, it would obviously be hugely irresponsible of Iran to just let us consolidate an Iraqi regime that's to our liking.

This is, simply put, a fight the Iranians can't back down from. It's the difference between us worrying about Iranian influence in Iraq (cause for concern) and us worrying about Iranian influence in Canada (panic!). The Iranians, in short, are never going to stop backing different Iraqi factions and trying to advance their interests there."

A fair point. He concludes that "staying in Iraq in force while also maintaining a hostile relationship with Iran is just a recipe for frustration." Of the many suggestions he has on what to do instead, the one that I see as most productive would be "to attempt a rapprochement with Iran on a higher level, which would lay the groundwork for US-Iranian cooperation in Iraq." This is basically what Sen. Obama has suggested we do, and would, in theory, help to cool tensions amongst all three nations.

Or we could continue to saber-rattle at them while simultaneously siding with their allies in Iraq. Whichever.

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