Deadly Persian Provocations

[Newsweek] Reuel Marc Gerecht - Two weeks ago, the Bush administration announced it may designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. European allies see the steps as a prelude to war and fear they will make ongoing nuclear diplomacy with Tehran much more difficult. Such fears are unfounded, however, and rest on several basic misunderstandings. For one thing, the terrorist label is nothing new, and thus will do little to change the current state of play. For another, Iran represents a much greater threat than Europe typically recognizes. It is not a status quo state that favors stability, as most pundits and governments portray it. Iran is, instead, a radical revolutionary force determined to sow chaos beyond its borders. The mullahs don't want peace in Iraq - just the opposite. The widespread belief (shared by the Iraq Study Group, among many others) that Iran wants stability in Iraq is wrong. The Europeans, who are among Iran's largest trading partners, must agree to biting measures - something these states, which are as addicted to noncoercive diplomacy as they are to commerce, seem unlikely to do. Washington can try to exercise soft power - through sanctions, resolutions, diplomatic isolation and rougher rhetoric. But the Islamic Republic, especially its radical president and praetorian guard, are accomplished practitioners of hard power. They are unlikely to be overwhelmed by moderate tactics. Instead, they seem set to continue killing Americans in Iraq, waiting to see if and when the United States gives up and run for the exits. The writer, a former Middle East specialist at the CIA, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

2007-08-28 01:00:00

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