The New Cold War with Iran

[New York Times] Thomas L. Friedman - The next president is going to be a cold-war president - but this cold war is with Iran. That is the real umbrella story in the Middle East today - the struggle for influence across the region, with America and its Sunni Arab allies (and Israel) versus Iran, Syria and their non-state allies, Hamas and Hizbullah. For now, Team America is losing on just about every front. How come? The short answer is that Iran is smart and ruthless, America is dumb and weak, and the Sunni Arab world is feckless and divided. The outrage of the week is the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah attempt to take over Lebanon. The Shiite militia Hizbullah emerged supposedly to protect Lebanon from Israel. Having done that, it has now turned around and sold Lebanon to Syria and Iran. All of this is part of what Ehud Yaari, one of Israel's best Middle East watchers, calls "Pax Iranica." In the Jerusalem Report, Yaari pointed out the web of influence that Iran has built around the Middle East - including building up Hizbullah into a force - with 40,000 rockets - that can control Lebanon and threaten Israel should it think of striking Tehran, and its ability to strengthen Hamas in Gaza and block any U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace. "Tehran has created a situation in which anyone who wants to attack its atomic facilities will have to take into account that this will lead to bitter fighting" on the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Persian Gulf fronts, Yaari noted. That is a sophisticated strategy of deterrence.

2008-05-14 01:00:00

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