Remember when the answer to radical Islam used to be moderate Islam? Well, that’s changing. The new answer to radical Shiite Islam may be radical Sunni Islam. That’s right, al-Qaeda. We’ve come full circle since the CIA first created Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan all those years ago.
In a piece in this month’s The New Yorker, Seymour Hirsch describes the Iraqi conflict in terms of regional conflict involving not just the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq, but of neighboring countries as well: Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. Sunni countries fear runaway Iranian power in the region, now about to be backed by nuclear weapons. The only organization capable of withstanding the Iranians, the Iraqi army, has been disbanded by the U.S.
What’s more, the Bush administration policy towards Iran is changing as well.
In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.
Now imagine all of the power and money now being used for war in the region being used instead for peaceful purposes: schools, hospitals, cultural festivals, dancing the dubka and eating mansaf.