Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cold War 2.0

This is it....this is where Bush's stupidity is heading, a new Cold War and the US instigating a "Green Curtain" in the Arab world (i.e. are the Soviets this time?).

A must read (and long ponder) article from Robin Wright in the Washington Post. This the real legacy of Bush, not Iraq.


After three decades of festering tensions, the United States and Iran are now facing off in a full-fledged cold war. When the first Cold War began, in 1946, Winston Churchill famously spoke of an Iron Curtain that had divided Europe. As Cold War II begins half a century later, the Bush administration is trying to drape a kind of Green Curtain dividing the Middle East between Iran's friends and foes. The new showdown may well prove to be the most enduring legacy of the Iraq conflict. The outcome will certainly shape the future of the Middle East -- not least because the administration's strategy seems so unlikely to work.

Gates and Rice, former Cold Warriors (very 20th century in their [non]thinking) are doing the only thing they know how to do--re-run the game plan from the 70s/80s. Except that they don't realize the obviousness of what the analogy is.

They are going to sell massive arms to Sunni Gulf States. As part of their "moderates versus extremists" '08 Tour. Stops include: West Bank--Fatah over Hamas; Beirut--Fouad Sinora over Hezbollah; funding anti-Iranian terrorist organizations like MEK; backing the Saudis at any price.

Problems with this Cold War Reunion Tour (any and all of the following):

1)The Saudis, push come to shove, will deal with Iran (pan-Muslim identity) as was evident in the Saudi-Iranian backed deal to form the Palestinian Unity government.
2)The Saudis will still never accept the Iraqi Shia Government. The Iraqi Shia government has already had talks with Syria and Iran. It can't help but be a strong ally of Iran.
3)Hezbollah can not be "de-fanged"
4)Syria controls strong levers in any Palestinian-Israeli deal. No peace with the Golan Heights. And they will not deal unless they get back into the game.
5)The American support for Sunni extremist groups against Hezbollah has already back fired (surprise, surprise) in the recent attacks on the Lebanese government and the rise of al-Qaeda like cells in Lebanon amongst Palestinian refugees.

The roots of Cold War II lie in the Bush administration's decision to remove regimes it considered enemies after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The first two targets were the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq -- coincidentally, both foes of Iran that had served as important checks on Tehran's power. The United States has now taken on the role traditionally played by Iraq as the regional counterweight to Iran.

i.e. We set this train in motion and there is no going back on it now. This was the point of acute observers prior to the Iraqi invasion: if you want this to work you are going to have to normalize relations with Iran.

The basic U.S. premise -- isolating regional foes behind the Green Curtain -- is in trouble even among Washington's closest allies. "The United States is trying to define the main line of confrontation as the extremist camp versus the camp of moderation, a division which does not exist," Pillar said. "It may be reflective of our rhetoric and the way Americans see the world, but it is not reflective of the realities in the Middle East." The geography of Cold War II is also not as neat as that of Cold War I. Some of Iran's proxies (such as Hezbollah) operate in pockets within countries (such as Lebanon) whose governments are aligned with the United States. "The problem with the administration's portrait," Riedel said, "is that it would take multiple Green Curtains."
The only good, seems to me, that can come off this is a Truman-like establishment of NATO, defense of Turkey & Greece and then later administrations start the market connections into Iran (i.e. take the ceiling off the embargoes) and then Iran gets the bomb and then falls within a longer time frame.

But I just don't see it working with Iran's very shrewd diplomacy and connections across the region.


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