Even after the carnage in the Lebanese town of Qana, the
administration continues its nonsensical rhetoric about seeking a
"sustainable cease fire" in Lebanon as Israeli military action
continues. Most casual observers employing any logic would conclude that
it would be difficult to determine the sustainability of any ceasefire
unless it was first attempted.
Obviously, the administration's rhetoric is designed to give Israel
more time to damage Hezbollah. Of course, Israel's original and
implausible goal was to eradicate Hezbollah without invading Lebanon and
becoming bogged down in another quagmire there.
Israel has found, however, much like the Bush administration has in
Iraq, that guerrilla organizations, especially ones as competent as
Hezbollah, are not that easily eliminated. Israel has found Hezbollah's
infrastructure and combat skills to be much more formidable than
The bombing of Qana has united the previously divided Lebanese and
much of the rest of the world against Israel's veiled terrorism. Israel
will have even less time to degrade Hezbollah, which is also committing
terrorist acts against Israeli towns
Soon world opprobrium will force the U.S. to stop Israeli military
action. And the thimble-full of aid the U.S. is offering Lebanon will
not win back any hearts for the cause. The paltry $30 million in U.S.
aid being offered to that war-ravaged country is like an armed gang
busting up someone's business and then leaving them $5 for repairs.
Hezbollah will survive Israeli attacks and its stature in the Islamic
world will be elevated. The group's weapons and equipment will be
replenished, and a stronger Hezbollah will reflect favorably on Iran,
its principal benefactor.
Once again, excessive or unnecessary foreign military action—by
Israel or the United States—has benefited Iran.
Iran's rise began when the United States took out one of Iran's major
adversaries—the Taliban regime—in Afghanistan. Then the ayatollahs in
Tehran received another and even bigger gift: U.S. taxpayers funded the
destruction of their principal rival—Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.
Even better for the Iranians, U.S. forces remained to protect what
became an Iranian-friendly, theocratically oriented Iraqi government
from Sunni insurgents. The quagmire also undermined U.S. leverage in
pressuring Iran to forgo its alleged quest for atomic weapons, while the
U.S. invasion of neighboring Iraq provided greater Iranian motivation to
acquire a nuclear deterrent to a future U.S. attack.
The United States needs Iranian help to contain Shi'ite militias and
death squads in Iraq. If the U.S. gets too feisty in demanding that Iran
get rid of its nuclear program, Iran could give the Shi'ites in Iraq the
green light to escalate action to a full-blown civil war. The U.S.
invasion of Iraq made it less likely that Iran—fearful of being the
target of a similar future U.S. action—would ever negotiate away its
In the eyes of the Islamic world, the U.S.-backed Israeli offensive
is making martyrs of Hezbollah fighters, which is icing on the cake for
the medieval Iranian regime.
Thus, U.S. conduct and support of militaristic foreign policies in
the Persian Gulf/Southwest Asian region have inadvertently caused the
already influential 400-pound Iranian gorilla to grow into an 800-pound
monster. With two-and-a-half years left in the Bush administration, even
more bungling in U.S. grand strategy may provide enough policy bananas
to create an Iranian King Kong.
Ivan Eland is a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute,
Director of the Institute’s
Center on Peace &
Liberty, and author of the books
The Empire Has No Clothes, and
Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.