America’s third Middle Eastern war

Iran and the US are already engaged in a hot, or at least warm conflict.

November 10, 2010 22:56
3 minute read.
The reactor building of Bushehr nuclear power plant is seen just outside the city of Bushehr.

Bushehr Reactor 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Acertain stream of thought about American foreign policy holds that “the Israel lobby” or “the Jewish lobby” or just “the Jews” control or manipulate the US, in part so that it will fight wars on behalf of Israel.

The accusation is hardly new.

The early 20th-century forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion also spoke of the Jews’ purported ability to “respond with the guns of America.” More recently, Operation Iraqi Freedom ostensibly provided evidence of this ongoing control, even though polls of American Jews in 2003 indicated that they supported the push for war less than did the general American population, and even though at least some Israeli officials reportedly advised against the invasion, having predicted many of its likely side effects, including the strengthening of Iran.

The latest version of this conspiratorial canard has Israel and its supporters agitating for an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent or delay that country’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Among their many claims, some more convincing than others, opponents of such a move typically point out that an attack would embroil the US in an unnecessary third war with a Muslim state.

THIS ARGUMENT reflects a fundamental misreading of the situation.

Air strikes on specific targets with the limited goal of damaging or destroying them is a far cry from the American invasions and lengthy occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And, as the documents publicized recently through WikiLeaks demonstrate, Iran and the US already are at war.

The documents reinforce previous assessments, made public through media accounts, congressional testimony by military and diplomatic officials and Defense Intelligence Agency and Congressional Research Service reports, that Iran has played an important and active role in not just destabilizing Iraq, but in targeting American military personnel.

Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards al-Kuds Force and Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah have trained, equipped and directed Shi’ite Iraqi insurgents.

The New York Times and others have detailed some of these groups’ activities, which include the provision of sophisticated weapons systems (e.g., rockets, mortars, anti-aircraft missiles and explosively formed penetrators, the latter of which have been disproportionately lethal in roadside attacks against American forces); training in kidnapping, sniping and the use of explosives; and initiating and planning the assassinations of Iraqi officials.

In at least one case, Iranian soldiers allegedly engaged a joint American-Iraqi patrol on the Iraqi side of the border. Collectively, these actions are much more actively hostile than simply trying to undermine American foreign policy through diplomacy; Iran and the US are fighting a hot, or at least a warm war.

America’s involvement in Iraq has been much bloodier thanks to Iran’s efforts.

The “Israel lobby/wars of the Jews” crowd undoubtedly will see in Iranian involvement in Iraq a “natural” reaction to the war that Israel’s supporters “forced” on the US and its allies.

Or they will fantasize that without Israel as a US ally, there would be no enmity between Iran and the US. Certainly neither the WikiLeaks reports nor any other evidence will break the distorted, self-reinforcing logic of Jewish conspiracy theories.

Thoughtful, compelling arguments can be and have been made both for and against an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Concern that such an attack will start an Iranian- American war is not one of them. That war has been long under way, though today only one of the sides is armed with nuclear weapons.

The writers are research fellows at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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