10 years ago
It has now become apparent that Iranian soldiers have been killed in southern Lebanon.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been found among Hizbollah guerrillas slain by Israeli forces in southern Lebanon, Israel’s Channel 10 television reported on Wednesday citing diplomatic sources.
It said the Iranians were identified by documents found on their bodies, but gave no further details on how many were discovered or when. Neither the Israeli military nor Hizbollah representatives in Beirut had immediate comment on the report.
A number of things converged on me at one time to cause me to remember where we are in this international war. My son will deploy to Iraq some time early in 2007, so I have been closely tracking things going on in Ramadi, Baghdad, and other places (mostly in the Sunni triangle). It is easy to become myopic when faced with the pressure of things like a son’s deployment to war.
I recently exchanged e-mail with Michael Ledeen, who reminded me that it was impossible to win the war in Iraq “first.” This is a regional war. I began to think about the very things that I had written, and the first thing that came to mind was my “The Iran War Plans” where I link to Michael Ledeen’s “The Same War,” in which Ledeen persuasively argues for seeing the war in the Middle East as running through Syria and eventually to Iran (and from Iraq, directly to Iran). As a side note, I discussed the difficulties of a war with Iran in my post, making sure to warn the reader that a war — almost no matter what form it took — would be costly. I intend to post in the future on suggestions I have for war with Iran, however pedestrian it might seem for me (a non-expert) to do so. As another side note, my post on war plans with Iran remains a popular hit with Google, coming up on the third page of links.
Next, I stumbled upon an interesting post that Michael Rubin placed on National Review Online, in which he says (in part):
As a post-script: A lot of writers have pretended to explore what went wrong in Iraq. Most use secondary accounts—some accurate, others pretty inaccurate—to reconstruct planning. Their conclusions are a product of their sources, which is why it’s going to take wholesale declassification of documents before we learn the real story of the Iraq war. Still, there’s opportunity to break new ground. One topic you’d think an investigative reporter would consider: Why did the Coalition not take action against Muqtada al-Sadr immediately after the April 2003 murder of al-Khoie? Who made the decision not to act? Based on what assessments?
Interesting, and similar to my (much more blue collar) post “The Biggest Mistake of the War,” where I charge the brass with failure to apprehend al-Sadr (or at least, question how it could happen that he has been allowed to go free all of these months). Also of interest is that the recent U.S. attack on some of al-Sadr’s killing squads was met with rebuke by the Iraqi Prime Minister, something I posted on (“Is the Iraqi Prime Minister Bullying the U.S.?”). I had known for a while that al-Sadr was Shia, and that there was a close connection betwen him and Iran, but I have failed to completely put two and two together to make four.
We simply cannot finish the job without first taking on Iran head-to-head. It is more than simply “we must take them on at some point.” Some point is now. I have been aware for a while that Iran has furnished the more complicated IEDs and associated technology to the insurgents in Iraq, and had believed, or wanted to believe, that the outposts that the U.S. manned on the border with Iraq-Iran would stop this inflow of weapons. But it might just be more complicated than sealing the border with Iran (although we have failed even to do that). There is money and people from Iran already in Iraq, and the failure of the government to cohere is a function of Iranian influence. In the same post on NRO, Micheal Rubin linked to an article over at the American Enterprise Institute, entitled “Bad Neighbor.” I will quote from it at length (the entire piece is recommended).
The Iranian government has not limited its support to a single faction or party. Rather, Tehran’s strategy appears to be to support both the radicals seeking immediate confrontation with the U.S. occupation and Islamist political parties like Sciri and Ibrahim Jafari’s Dawah Party, which are willing to sit on the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council and engage with Washington, at least in the short term. The Iranian journalist Nurizadeh wrote in April 2003, “[President Mohammed] Khatami [and other Iranian political leaders] … were surprised by the decision issued above their heads to send into Iraq more than 2,000 fighters, clerics, and students [to] the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and al-Dawah Party.” My own experience backed up his claims. This February, I spoke with a local governor from southern Iraq who wanted to meet me after he learned that I lived and worked outside CPA headquarters. The governor complained that the CPA was doing little to stop the influx of Iranian money to district councilmen and prominent tribal and religious officials. The money, he said, was distributed through Dawah offices established after a meeting between Jafari and Iranian security officials.
Twice in the last twelve years, large-scale Iranian destabilization efforts have confronted U.S. military interventions. In Bosnia, after significant internal debate, George H.W. Bush’s administration chose to block Iranian infiltration, risking revenge attacks against the United States by Iranian-linked terrorists. In September 1992, Tehran attempted to ship 4,000 guns, one million rounds of ammunition, and several dozen fighters to Bosnia. An Iranian Boeing 747 landed in Zagreb, where, in response to U.S. pressure, the Croatian military impounded the weapons and expelled the jihadis. Today, there is little threat of radical anti-U.S. Islamism in Bosnia.
Almost a decade later, the current Bush administration identified an Iranian challenge in Afghanistan. Speaking before the American-Iranian Council on March 13, 2002, Zalmay Khalilzad, senior National Security Council adviser for the Middle East and Southwest Asia, declared, “The Iranian regime has sent some Qods forces associated with its Revolutionary Guards to parts of Afghanistan. . . . Iranian officials have provided military and financial support to regional parties without the knowledge and consent of the Afghan Interim Authority.” Rather than combat this Iranian challenge, the Bush administration chose diplomacy. “Notwithstanding our criticism of Iranian policy, the U.S. remains open to dialogue,” Khalilzad continued. Today, visitors to Herat, a main city in western Afghanistan, consider Iranian influence there to be extremely strong.
In the wake of Sadr’s uprising, Washington is faced with the same choice: End Iran’s infiltration through forceful action, or wish it away. How long can we afford to keep choosing the latter?
Michael Ledeen also has a salient piece entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Impasse: Next Steps.” We are reminded that Iran wants to go nuclear, and that time is of the essence.
This convergence of things has caused me to realize that winning the war in Iraq, or in Lebanon against Hezbollah, or in Afghanistan against the radical elements there, requires cutting off the head of the snake. The head of the snake is Iran.
Once again, however pedestrian it may sound, I will post in the near future on my Iranian war plans. Why? Because it is not apparent to me that the U.S. brass has any good ones based on my earlier post on this subject.