The terrifying implications of Iran’s drone attack on Saudi Arabia.
Escalation in the Middle East
That Iran is a bad actor on the world stage is a fact that few in the U.S. dispute, from the left or from the right.
The Iranian hard-line government is the leading financial and logistical sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East and it routinely tries to undermine and destroy the sovereignty of its neighbors with violence.
Some of whom, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are allies of the U.S.
It is also the stated goal of the powers that be in Iran to scrub the world’s only Jewish state from the map and, presumably, Jewish people from the face of the earth.
Iran is often mentioned in the same breath with North Korea; Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini is often compared with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
With good reason.
They are both countries in which an autocratic, all-powerful, draconian, government controls every aspect of public life, from the news they watch at night to what they eat for breakfast to what their children are taught in school. They are both countries that would very much like to impose their way of life on other countries unfortunate enough neighbor them.
By force if necessary. By nuclear force if possible.
Both Iran and North Korea, and their respective leaders, are would-be destroyers who must be kept at bay. Governments of the world interested in keeping the peace, and keeping trade flowing, use a number of methods to try to achieve this.
Most of these methods are monetary; sanctions, embargoes. Some are diplomatic; censure, expulsion from global government.
Other methods involve the threat of force; for example U.S. President Donald Trump expressing the extremely trite but completely true sentiment that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” in response to the recent attack.
Quite as Bruce Willis or John Wayne might have put it. Perhaps a bit more theatrical than your average world leader, but correct in essentials.
Ideally, you build an unassailable arsenal like the U.S. because you never want to use it. The threat is often enough.
It’s not what you have, or what you are willing to use. It is what the enemy thinks you have and are willing to use.
Consider the lengths the USSR and the U.S. went to during the Cold War to convince the other of its military might- cardboard cutouts were involved. Consider the lengths North Korea still goes to to convince the world, and its citizens, that it is much more dangerous than it actually is.
As it pertains to the U.S. however, what you see is what you get. The U.S. has a well-deserved reputation for being “locked and loaded”. What other countries know we have probably doesn’t even cover it.
Because there is one other way of dealing with dangerous would-be conquerers, of those who won’t play nice with others, no matter the incentive. Those determined on violence, whatever the concession.
If you are a reader of left-leaning news networks, you likely believe that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is simply ‘pinning’ this latest strike on innocent Iranians.
The fact that some Americans would believe the official denials of a nation that routinely stones people to death for homosexuality, over officials in the U.S. government under Donald Trump says any number of things about several American institutions, not least of which is the media.
For the rest us, we understand that Donald Trump is not, as the left-leaning pundits and papers would have us believe, the worst problem in the world.
Were that true, we could vote him out of office in 2020 and have done with it. Iran’s Ayatollah is significantly harder to deal with.
The evidence that Iran is responsible for this latest strike on Saudi soil is fairly overwhelming. Iran’s record on striking at Saudi Arabia is against it on this point. This isn’t even that unusual, though it is a decided escalation. In addition, letting Iran’s diplomats plead for peace while its autocrats beat the drums of war in the background is modus operandi for Iranian president Rouhani’s administration, and always has been.
That Iran is suffering under crushing sanctions is no secret. That the Rouhani’s sole accomplishment in office- U.S. President Barack Obama’s signing of the JPA nuclear treaty with Iran in 2014, a sweetheart of a deal that allowed Iran’s nuclear program to stay on-track- has gone up in flames is also well known.
As a result, Iran is pushing the world toward war.
It is intentionally provoking better-armed and more powerful nations like the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel into a violent and over-the-top response that can win over allies for Iran in the Middle East.
What is a nation weary of war, like the U.S., to do?
After a seemingly endless time in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. authorities have finally seemed to grasp that the U.S. military, like the Russian military and every other military force before it, could never have triumphed in the inhospitable and rugged mountainous region the Afghan soldiers knew only too well.
It’s the ultimate home-court advantage. Any outside military occupation was doomed from the start, as any student of Afghanistan history could have told two successive presidential administrations.
The U.S. is feeling deja vu.
The same images of Saudi Arabian oil fields burning; same type of madman, and probably more than one. Worse, a madman looking to expand his territory into neighboring regions that are allied to the United States. Delusions of grandeur, aspirations to world domination and weapons of mass destruction.
It’s your basic doomsday scenario.
There isn’t any doubt that this strategic strike on Saudi oil fields was a technologically and logistically sophisticated one, well-coordinated and armed with weapons made in Iran.
The question is what the has U.S. learned from its interminable wars in the Middle East.
Will the Trump administration fall victim to the same hubris that afflicted the last two administrations and invade Iran?
Perhaps this attack should be taken as the sign of something deeper that it most certainly is:
Iran is getting desperate.
The sanctions are working.
The U.S. must support its allies in the Middle East; but it must also display patience. Everyone has their breaking point; Iran’s Ayatollah and President Rouhani will reach theirs long before the U.S. and its allies.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)