It's Time to Get Tough on Iran

(Foreign Policy) Michael Eisenstadt and David Crist - An increasingly belligerent Tehran may be the one that makes the move that sparks a conflict with the U.S. - whether by an act of terrorism, by facilitating insurgent attacks in Iraq or Afghanistan, or by a military provocation in the Gulf or elsewhere - unless Washington, acting with both caution and firmness, moves to avert such an eventuality. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have proclaimed on numerous occasions their belief that the U.S. is a declining power, that the international order that underpinned U.S. influence is crumbling, and that U.S. strength has been sapped by long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran appears to be stepping up support for insurgent attacks against departing U.S. troops in Iraq, in order to create the impression that the U.S. was forced out of the country. Iran has also been reassured by Israel's growing isolation, which it sees as part of a long-term process leading to the demise of the Jewish state, and has been emboldened by the slow but steady progress made by its own nuclear and missile programs. Thus, sensing weakness in its enemies and perceiving an opportunity, Iran's leaders might be tempted to hasten this process of "decline" by making a move intended to humiliate the U.S. and highlight the limits of American power. Ahmadinejad's new defense minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, made his career in the Quds Force - the branch of the Revolutionary Guards involved in terrorism and the export of the Islamic Revolution. He was personally implicated in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen, as well as other acts of terrorism. Michael Eisenstadt is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. David Crist is a Pentagon historian and visiting fellow at the Washington Institute.

2010-08-13 09:46:02

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