The report’s publication follows the administration’s formal designation on Monday of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s elite paramilitary and foreign espionage unit, as a foreign terrorist organization.
The case that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism has the very respectable General James Mattis attached. Quoting from General Mattis; Iran continues to sponsor terrorism; Iran, Iran, Iran,
“At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today,”
At the time I argued with use of the word:
I agree with all but the choice of words. Iran is in an expansionist, revolutionary phase, not unlike the early years of the Soviet Union. Unlike any other state adversary extant, it also exports an ideology, with the gleam of the caliphate, something we were hoping would not recur since the downfall of communism.
Iran has at times lead the world in assassinations on foreign soil, and continues to have a very active program. But so does Russia. Particularly hateful to Mattis is the slaughter of Marines in the Khobar Towers bombings in 1996. The principal Iranian controlled agent, Ahmed al-Mughassil was captured in 2015. (Brookings) Captured: Mastermind behind the 1996 Khobar Towers attack. Some say the Iranians deliberately betrayed him. This is possible, since at the time the moderates were ascendant.
The domino theory, so popular during the Cold War, is alive again. I might be one of the proponents, but unlike those who justified the Vietnam war with the fear that North Vietnam would take over Southeast Asia, I have no solution. If there is a row of dominoes, Iraq is first in line. This proposition is partly indexed in Trump wants U.S. military in Iraq to ‘watch Iran’: CBS interview. The blog search for Sistani brings up all the pieces.
The gist is that Iran, several times the center of an empire, will, with a certain degree of inevitability, swallow its politically weak neighbor. Complicating any U.S. effort to prevent this is the prediction that Iraq will in a few years become inhospitable to any U.S. presence. (2/4/2019 NY Times) Trump’s Plan for U.S. Forces in Iraq Met With Unified Rejection in Baghdad. Quoting,
President Trump’s unexpected announcement that he wanted American troops in Iraq to stay there to “watch Iran” achieved a previously unattainable goal on Monday: unity in the Iraqi political establishment….The unity was a collective rejection of his proposal, and added momentum to proposed legislation that could hamper American troops’ ability to operate in Iraq.
The Trump administration has innovated a number of aspects of U.S. foreign policy in positive ways. This is not one of them. As an author of the idea that Iran will absorb Iraq, I would certainly like to avert the event. But Pax Americana is done with, and we have to pick our battles. To declare the IRGC a terrorist organization offers advantages with respect to sanctions and rules of engagement, but not enough to overcome the hostility of a whole region, including the part to be defended.
Talk loudly and carry a small stick? Talleyrand (if you like him), or a Kissinger (whether you like him or not), were successful at statecraft in a world of diminishing influence, which Kissinger actually anticipated by 40 years. Both understood force, diplomacy backed by force, and had the bargaining skills of a union organizer. They also knew how to fold most advantageously.
Of choices to be made, with limited resources, I prefer Venezuela.