Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



How To Avert War With Iran

US President George W. Bush (L) performs with comedian Steve Bridges, who is impersonating him, at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, 29 April 2006, at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of Mandel Ngan and AFP.
by F. Stephen Larrabee And Peter A. Wilson
UPI Outside View Commentators
Washington (UPI) May 03, 2006
As the Bush administration wrestles with how to respond to Iran's latest challenge, it would do well to reflect on the lessons of its military invasion in Iraq. The toppling of Saddam Hussein was supposed to lead to a democratic Iraq that would ignite the fires of democracy throughout the Greater Middle East. Instead, regime change in Iraq has sparked regional turmoil and set off a chain reaction of unintended consequences.

Rather than being a beacon of democracy, Iraq today is wracked by deep-seated sectarian divisions and it is on the brink of civil war. There is a serious risk that the country could fragment, creating a power vacuum that could lead outside powers -- and terrorist groups -- to deepen their involvement in Iraq. Meanwhile, the United States finds its armed forces stretched thin and poorly prepared to deal with other possible contingencies.

The big winner from the invasion of Iraq has been Iran. Before the invasion, Iraq served as a Sunni-dominated counterweight to the expansion of Iranian power. The invasion destroyed that counterweight, opening the way to an expansion of Iranian power into Iraq and throughout the Persian Gulf. Today, Iran's intelligence services are actively supporting various Shiite factions in Iraq, and Iran's influence there has increased.

The prospect of a Shiite-dominated Iraq, closely allied with a Shiite Iran, is viewed with alarm by Iraq's Sunni neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia and Jordan. At the same time, Iran's nuclear ambitions pose new proliferation challenges. Faced with the prospect of a nuclear Iran, other countries in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, could be tempted to acquire nuclear weapons. Pakistan and Israel could also feel compelled to accelerate their nuclear programs.

The real loser has been Turkey. The invasion of Iraq has led to a weakening of Turkey's ties to the West, especially the United States, and sparked a reorientation of Turkish policy in the Middle East. Confronted with the prospect of the emergence of an independent Kurdish state on its southern boarder, which could ignite new separatist pressures among Turkey's own Kurdish population, Ankara has begun to recast its Middle Eastern policy.

Increasingly, Turkey's Islamic government headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to portray itself as a bridge between the West and the Middle East, a role many Turkish secularists fear will weaken Turkey's Western identity. At the same time, largely as a result of differences over Iraq, U.S.-Turkish relations have plummeted to their lowest ebb in decades. According to a recent poll, more than 70 percent of the Turkish population thinks the United States is a bigger threat to security than Iran.

The recent emphasis on the promotion of democracy has led to a strengthening of Islamic forces throughout the Middle East. The major benefactors of the policy have been radical Islamic forces such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority, while moderate, liberal forces have fared poorly in elections.

In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, the United States now faces a much more troubled and challenging environment in the Middle East. In light of these new geo-strategic realities, Washington needs to develop a new set of policies toward the region.

Three steps in particular should be high on the U.S. policy agenda.

First, Washington needs to begin to rebuild its relations with Turkey. As the security environment in the Middle East becomes more volatile, keeping a democratic, secular Turkey firmly anchored to the West should be a top U.S. priority. This is all the more important because Turkey's relations with the European Union are strained and could further deteriorate if accession negotiations with the EU bog down.

Second, instead of calls for regime change and threatening military intervention, the United States needs to begin a direct security dialogue with Iran that addresses Iran's real security concerns. The recent agreement with Iran to begin discussions about Iraq is a step in the right direction and could serve as a building block for a broader dialogue on other issues, including but not limited to the nuclear issue. Such an offer could strengthen the hand of the more sober-minded members of the Iranian regime who lately have begun to speak out more forcefully against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's extremist policies.

Third, after decades of dithering, the United States should embark upon a major effort to reduce its dependence on oil and natural gas from the Persian Gulf region. This effort should be considered a critical national security priority and should integrate both foreign and domestic policy.

F. Stephen Larrabee holds the Corporate Chair in European Security and Peter A. Wilson is a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
Follow the world's second virtual nuclear war at Nuke Wars

Norht Korean President Stands Firm On Sanction Threat
Seoul (UPI) May 03, 2006
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has recently revamped army units and industrial sites in an apparent bid to prepare for tougher U.S.-led sanctions, South Korean officials say.







  • US And Japan Adopt Roadmap For Military Revamp
  • Bush And Putin Fail To Agree To Disagree
  • US Military Illiteracy Serves No Good
  • US Military Shift To The Pacific A 'Hedge' Against China

  • UN Powers Divided Over Iran As America Threatens Sanctions
  • Iran Seeks To Win Over Gulf Arabs In Nuclear Row
  • US To Form Anti-Iran Coalition If UN Rejects Sanctions
  • Pakistan Says Nuclear Proliferation Chapter Is Closed

  • US Air Force Studies German Fuse For Cruise Missile
  • Pakistan Test Fires Long-Range Nuclear Capable Missile
  • MBDA And Raytheon Offer Anti-Aircraft Missiles For Estonia
  • Raytheon Awarded Contract For Patriot Upgrades

  • Canadian Prime Minister Harper Defies Ballistic Missile Defense Critics
  • LM Delivers Components For Missile Warning Satellite
  • Orbital Launches Second Missile Defense Target Rocket
  • Missile Defense Test Conducted At Hawaii

  • Test Pilot Crossfield Killed In Private Plane Crash
  • Aerospace Industry Slow To Embrace New MEMS Technologies
  • BAE Systems To Sell Airbus Stake, EADS Likely Buyers
  • DaimlerChrysler And Lagardere Cut Stake In EADS

  • Combat Balloon To Improve Communications
  • Second Afghanistan campaign for Canadian Forces Sperwer CU161 UAVs
  • AFRL Proves Feasibility Of Plasma Actuators
  • Northrop Grumman Opens Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Production Center In Mississippi

  • Corruption Still Major Problem In Iraq Finds IG
  • Iraq Partition Becomes Fashionable Policy In Washington
  • Rumsfeld Has A Responsibility To Resign
  • IG Outlines Challenges In Iraq In 2006

  • Australian Leading Edge Superconductor Mine Sweeping System Revealed
  • F-22 Raptor Flight Tests Missile Noise, Vibration
  • US Wants To Transform War From Massed Armies To Guerilla Warfare
  • Raytheon to Develop Hard-Kill Active Protection System for FCS Vehicles

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement