Reasons why Iran may well prevail v. US....
Best hope for stopping Obama's bad Iran deal--which just got worse, as Obama is prepared to allow Iran to stiff inspectors for several years: a report says Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu is working with France, by far the most hawkish of the allied governments in the Iran talks, to stop the deal. Today is the negotiating deadline.
But instead, the US is, writes Max Boot, acting as Iran's air force in bombing Tikrit; and the 3,,000 US spec ops advisers in Iraq may be hostages in the Iran nuclear talks. In effect, Obama is a 21st century Milo Minderbinder, playing both sides in war.
Geopolitics maven Robert Kaplan sees Iran's mixture of state & non-state traits auguring its triumph on the Mideast:
The modern state of Iran is heir to the imperial civilization of ancient Persia. Its territory broadly aligns with the Mede, Parthian, Achaemenid, Sassanid, Qajar, and Pahlevi states and empires, whose spheres of influence often extended from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. Persia was the ancient world's first superpower, and a bold if sometimes broken line connects the Persian monarchs of antiquity to the ayatollahs of today, whose very aggression is rooted in the geopolitics of their forebears. There are many Arab states, but there is only one Persian state - a state that has historically dominated its immediate Arab neighbours with its ample resources of cultural wealth and political organization. It took nothing less than the suffocating totalitarianism of Saddam Hussein to keep Iran out of Iraq. In the absence of such a dominant influence, Iraq must revert to its default, heavily Persian-influenced normal.
At the same time, Iran's regime bears all the hallmarks of a sub-state - and all the advantages. Like Hezbollah, the various Shiite militias, and al Qaeda, the regime binds a close-knit, determined band of believers that has come to represent an ideology due to the revolutionary clarity of its ideas. Hezbollah, the various other Shiite militias, and al Qaeda have all been effective and innovative because they represent fervent sub-state ideologies. Meanwhile, the Iraqi army and other conventional forces in the Middle East have generally performed less impressively. This is because Arabs, with some exceptions, never really believed in their states, so they never believed in their state armies. Just ask the Israelis, who defeated those armies in the 1956, 1967, and 1973 wars.
Civilizations represent a thick depository of language, culture, and values. The sub-state represents a dynamic solidarity group. Put the two together, as they are in revolutionary Iran, and you have a formidable adversary to ossifying Arab states.
The Baathist states of the Levant represent a failed secular belief system. The more successful Arab states are family monarchies such as those ruling in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, Jordan, and Morocco. Yet for the most part even these regimes stand for comparatively little beyond the social peace and security they have been able to provide. They have no exportable revolutionary ideology, in other words, which the Iranian sub-state has in abundance. Saudi Arabia has exported its Wahhabi ideology, but Riyadh has never been able to control its religious supporters beyond its own borders to the degree that the Iranians have.
Kaplan sees one chance at best that Iran will be checked: it may overextend its reach. Absent from his calculus is any intimation that a resurgent United States could possibly redress the balance. Given the present administration his calculus is eminently defensible.
Retired CIA director Gen. David Petraeus sees Iran as a dangerous enemy, writes economist Larry Kudlow:
The general adds, "Longer-term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran."
. . . .
. . . . These Shiite militias are being run by Iran's top military man, Gen. Qasem Soleimani. He's the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard. He has been spotted and filmed on the ground in Iraq. And he has been making battlefield tours the way Petraeus did during the surge.
In the Post interview, Petraeus relates a remarkable story: In the midst of the surge, the general got a note from Soleimani: "General Petraeus, you should be aware that I, Qasem Soleimani, control Iran's policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanhttp://www.nationalreview.com/articles/415791/obama-tries-invent-whatever-excuse-he-can-break-israel-elliott-abramson, Gaza and Afghanistan." Petraeus told the intermediary he could tell Soleimani to "pound sand."
[Petraeus says that Iran] . . . "is not our ally in the Middle East ... part of the problem, not the solution . . . deeply hostile to us and our friends."
Worse, one year may not be enough time to detect a clandestine Iranian breakout. Possible violations require months to check out, multiple verifications, protracted disputes over what to do in response, with the US never having used force to penalize an arms violation. One example: Team Obama's disregard of evidence that Iran can breakout quickly--in stark contrast to the Obama Pentagon's recently confirming Israel's nuclear bomb program. Thus the only way to stop Iran, at this late date, may well be what John Bolton suggests: bomb Iran.
Claudia Rosett recounts a cautionary tale: how getting an ally, South Korea, to curb illicit nuclear financing an Iranian bank, Bank Mellat, in Seoul, took years, with limited results at best; clearly, in the wake of a nuclear deal with Iran, getting banks in Russia, China & Europe would prove far more difficult:
Bank Mellat’s staff has dwindled, he said, from some 40 people prior to sanctions, to 12. That includes 11 South Koreans and one Iranian who was deputy manager before the sanctions, and holds the same job today. The bank has about $45 million worth of capital held perforce in South Korean won, and does no lending, according to the senior official who spoke with me. Any activity by the bank, he said, is subject to frequent and “very serious monitoring” by South Korean authorities.
He would like to see sanctions lifted, so Bank Mellat in Seoul will be able to resume normal operations: “That’s why this branch in being maintained.” In Europe and the U.K., Bank Mellat has been succeeding step-by-step in challenging sanctions in the courts. But what lies ahead for the branch in Seoul, he said, depends on the results of the Iran nuclear talks.
What lies in the not-so-distant past is a lesson for U.S policy makers: Even when the U.S. is convinced that Iran is immersed in sanctions-violating proliferation traffic, it can take years to persuade even a close ally such as South Korea to target players already on the U.S. blacklist.
In all, edge to Iran.
Bottom Line. Iran's cultural duality is constructive, giving its leaders tactical flexibility married to cohesiveness of geostrategic purpose. Fragmented, demoralized Arab states & a retreating, irresolute America--the latter a given until if and when a new, more resolute president steps in--are a weak bet to prevail over Iran's fanatical mullahs.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, National Security, WMD, Nuclear Proliferation, Conservative Politics