I have had long conversations on BlogCritics lately with Iranians who say there is no evidence that Iran wishes to destablize Iraq. It is, they say, in Iran's best interests to have a secure and stable Iraq as a neighbor. This logic, of course, flies in the face of every objective reality that exisits. I have come to suspect that some of the folks that propogate these "talking points" are trained operatives working on the Iranian government's behalf . . . possibly formally and officially.
In any case, the United States has instituted a new set of "rules of engagement" for the agents and military personnel they have been shuffling in and out of Iraq since the coalition invation in 2003. The new policy rejects the old "catch and release" program and replaces it with "kill or capture."
There is danger and risk in this approach, of course. The danger is that American troops might kill an Irani civilian with a legitimate reason to be in Iraq. The risk is that Iran could respond by redoubling its mischief inside of Iraq with a more agressive targeting of US troops and personnel for abduction or murder.
The capture and murder of four US soldiers in the Shiite city of Karbala on January 20 may, in fact, be related in some way or another. "A senior Iraqi military official said the sophistication of the attack led him to believe it was the work of Iranian intelligence agents in conjunction with Iraq's Shiite Mahdi Army militia, which Iran funds, arms and trains." Iran will not back down without a fight. It will push the level of violence and mayhem to the very limits. Indeed, it is in the interests of the most radical Irani leaders (including President Ahmadinajad) for the United States to attack inside of Iran.
Iran's role in Iraq is first and foremost to disrupt and destroy the effectiveness of any peace and security that might arise from the current democratic government; second, to stick its finger in the eye of the United States (which it is doing quite nicely… see the recent Democrat electoral victory as evidence of their success); and, three, to provoke the United States into attacking Iran directly.
I am convinced that we must not attack Iran unless provoked beyond anything our national interests can bear. Should Iran choose to flood Iraq and Afghanistan with trained sabateurs, the entire region could crumble very quickly into total chaos… including similar scenarios in Palestine and Lebanon. Response to this would be a difficult assualt on Tehran to cut out the heart of the Iranian revolutionary leadership within Iran itself.
I would rather see Iran stuffed into its box and shut tight than to give it an excuse to pour across international borders like a plague in full daylight.
This is one time when it would be best not to shout out, "Bring it on!"