Robert Tracinski thinks Bush needs to widen his approach beyond the insurgents in Iraq and go after their state sponsors.
Going wide means recognizing that Iraq is just one front in a regional war against an Islamist Axis centered in Iran–and we cannot win that war without confronting the enemy directly, outside of Iraq.
Going wide means recognizing that the conflict in Iraq is fueled and magnified by the intervention of Iran and Syria. One of the reasons the Iraq Study Group report flopped was that its key recommendation–its one unique idea–was for America to negotiate with Iran and Syria in order to convince these countries to aid in the “stabilization” of Iraq. This proposal wasn’t so much argued to death as it was laughed to death, because it is clear that Iran and Syria have done everything they can to de-stabilize Iraq, supporting both sides of the sectarian conflict there.
It is obvious that both regimes have a profound interest in an American failure and retreat in Iraq. After all, if America can successfully use force to replace a hostile dictatorship with a free society, then the Iranian and Syrian regimes are doomed. So as a matter of elementary self-preservation, they have done everything they can to plunge Iraq into chaos, supporting guerrillas and militias on all sides of the sectarian conflict. Just today, a US official confirmed new evidence “that Iran is working closely with both the Shiite militias and Sunni Jihadist groups.” Most ominously, Iran has brazenly provided training and weapons to the Shiite militias–who carry rifles straight off the assembly lines of Iranian weapons factories–and these militias have emerged in the last year as the greatest threat to US troops and to the Iraqi government.
How can we quell the conflict in Iraq, further suppress the Sunni insurgents, and begin to dismantle the Shiite militias–if we don’t to anything to stop those who are funding, training, and supporting these enemies? Just as we can’t eliminate terrorism without confronting the states who sponsor terrorism, so we can’t suppress the Sunni and Shiite insurgencies in Iraq without confronting the outside powers who support these insurgents.
Every day, we see the disastrous results of fighting this war narrowly inside Iraq while ignoring the external forces that are helping to drive it. To fight one Shiite militia tied to Iran–Sadr’s Mahdi Army–we have recently signaled our support for an Iraqi political coalition that includes another Shiite militia tied to Iran, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim’s Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its Badr Brigades. And so it should be no surprise that a US military raid on Hakim’s headquarters last week netted two Iranian diplomats and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards–the outfit responsible for supporting global terrorism. That’s what happens when we fight the symptoms in Iraq rather than fighting the disease.
Going wide also means recognizing that more is at stake in this war than just the fate of Iraq. This is a war to determine who and what will dominate the Middle East. Will this vital region be dominated by a nuclear-armed Iran, working to spread Islamic fascism? Or will America be able to exert its military influence and political ideals in the region?
He’s clearly right, but he isn’t going wide enough.
Behind Syria and Iran, you find China fishing in troubled waters in order to thwart American “hegemony.” China is Iran’s arms supplier (often via North Korea) and soon to be leading trading partner. But we are China’s number 1 trading partner.
We have a far more powerful weapon to use against China to force her to withdraw support from her surrogates operating against the US than arms. We can threaten to deny China our trade.