For some mysterious reason known only to the polling gods, Polimom has never been asked for an opinion about Iraq, or Bush, or what I’m troubled by as an American. As a result, I generally take the latest, greatest poll results with at least a small grain of salt — including this one:
Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The finding that 51 percent of those surveyed see no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort was a jump of 10 percentage points since June. It came despite the regular insistence of Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans that the two are intertwined and should be seen as complementary elements of an overall strategy to prevent domestic terror attacks.
Okay… that’s fine. Iraq is off-target; people are starting to catch on, even if it is rather late in the ballgame. (So late, in fact, that some have made the rational argument that even if Iraq was not a hot-spot, it is now.)
That, and a dollar, will get you a cup of coffee (most places) but little else, because whatever it was that the Bush administration thought it was doing in March of 2003 is irrelevant now; the situation has changed radically.
A report published by Chatham House said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had removed Iran’s main rival regimes in the region.
Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and its invasion of Lebanon had also put Iran “in a position of considerable strength” in the Middle East, said the thinktank.
Unless stability could be restored to the region, Iran’s power will continue to grow, according to the report published by Chatham House
The study said Iran had been swift to fill the political vacuum created by the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The Islamic republic now has a level of influence in the region that could not be ignored.
In particular, Iran has now superseded the US as the most influential power in Iraq, regarding its former adversary as its “own backyard”. It is also a “prominent presence” in its other war-torn neighbour, Afghanistan, according to Chatham House’s analysts.
The report said: “There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror in the Middle East.
It’s hard to disagree that Iran has benefited enormously from events since 9-11, and while Polimom realizes that there are a number of folks who don’t think Iran is a risk, I don’t agree.
Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, says it will not give up what it says is its right to peaceful nuclear technology. The west suspects Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.
Count me among those who think Iran is after the weapons.
None of which gives an iota of a solution — particularly about Iraq, in which we’re hopelessly mired with few options. Thus far, the choices on the table appear to be:
1. “Stay the course”
2. “Get serious about the commitment”
3. “Get the hell out of there”
Polimom’s been thrashing about, hoping for some other possibility — and while I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a military strategist (I rely on DH for that kind of input), the likely repercussions from #3 would change the situation radically, particularly regarding Iran.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if the US takes door number three (“Get the hell out of there”), Iraq will dissolve into a conflagration that will spread to its neighbors, both immediate and regional. It’s a hideous thought, and many people will die.
But caught up in the conflagration would be… Iran. I can’t imagine anything that would distract them more.
I guess the real question is… how dangerous do we think Iran is, not just to Israel, but to the world in general, and the US specifically?
None of the choices now look good, but to unravel this mess (if it’s possible at all), the US is going to have to get very, very creative, because at the moment we’re stuck — knowing we created this catastrophe and utterly unable to fix it.