Road to Damascus Runs Through Tehran

(National Interest) Amitai Etzioni - The best way to deal with Iran's various attempts to dominate the Middle East is not to face it indirectly in one arena after another, but to go after the mainland. If Iran were defanged, Hizbullah's military arm would soon run out of funds and top-of-the-line weapons, and it would lose its capacity to checkmate other Lebanese parties and forces. If Iran were defanged, Hizbullah would be forced to withdraw its forces from Syria. The Iraqi Shia would be less emboldened, and might be more ready to come to terms with their Sunni compatriots. In contrast, engaging indirectly in a proxy fight with Iran in Syria is a very tricky maneuver. As many have pointed out, it is not clear whom to support, what we can safely give them and whether whatever we do give them will suffice. The U.S. will have to engage Iran in any case if President Obama is to live up to his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Granted, the election of a smiling "moderate," Hassan Rowhani, makes confronting Iran more difficult. The U.S. should hence give him a chance to withdraw Iranian support for terrorists, insurgents and tyrannical regimes and live up to Iran's commitments under the Nonproliferation Treaty. But if Iran's next president does not change its present course, we must face the possibility that the Middle East will be dominated by Iran. This threat may only be stopped by going after the head of the creature, rather than each of the various tentacles that it is planting throughout the region. The writer served as a senior advisor to the Carter White House and is professor of international relations at George Washington University.

2013-07-19 00:00:00

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