A new report ("Iranian Influence in the Levant, Iraq, and Afghanistan") published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank purports to show the reach and scope of Iranian influence across the Middle East...Co-written by AEI fellows Fred Kagan and Danielle Pletka, and Kagan's wife, Kimberly, who heads the Institute for the Study of War...
... it warns: "Much as America might desire to avoid war with Iran, continued Iranian interventions... might ultimately make that option less repulsive than the alternatives." The report relies entirely on open-source material, international and domestic media, non-governmental and government reports, as well as interviews conducted by Fred and Kimberly Kagan, who respectively visited Afghanistan and Iraq.
While President Bush may share AEI's view on Iranian malfeasance, his influence is waning. In a National Public Radio interview this month, Defence Secretary Bob Gates appeared to contradict his boss's view that Iran posed a "threat", instead saying that Tehran posed "significant challenges".
"When I think of a threat I think of a direct military threat, and while the jury's out in terms of whether they have eased up on their support to those opposing us in Iraq, I don't see the Iranians in the near term as a direct military threat," he said.
It seems the scholars at AEI have caught on, as they have attempted to shift the focus of the debate from Iranian motivations and intentions towards an "empirical study" of Iran's influence. In the final analysis, it reflects a tactical shift away from openly beating the war drums as do scholars like Ledeen, whose most recent book is entitled, "The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots' Quest for Destruction", and towards an attempt to highlight the extent of Iranian influence in the region. The conclusion to be drawn is that, even without the nuclear issue at the forefront, Iran continues to exert a negative impact on U.S. interests.
But perhaps the authors should do some fact-checking of their own. On page three, the incorrectly identify the former President of Syria as "Hafez al-Hassad," who died in 2006. Assad died in 2000.
Well they never were the brightest, or the most honest, or...ok they are just scumbags. Obviously angling for that sweet spot of the bipartisan imperial ego that cannot bear any power other than its own to dominate and the arrogant presumption that America has any business (interests)thousands of miles from 'der Homeland'. Give them enough time and they will cook up a report saying Iran causes restless leg syndrome & wrinkles. Keeps them wealthy and after all isn't that the most important function of war and 'think' tanks for the neocon organism?