The Retreat of the West?

International affairs is a zero sum game.  When power is withdrawn by one state, another state or group will fill that power vacuum.  History has proven this in the past.  When British hegemony declined, American power filled that gap in the western world.  Communism similarly filled power vacuums left after America's withdrawal from Vietnam and President Jimmy Carter's defense spending cuts, and diminished American influence in Africa, South America, and Asia.

The same rules of international affairs hold true today.  Should America withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that power vacuum will be filled by some state or group.  In the Middle East, it is clear that Iran is filling power vacuums that the Iraqi government has not filled when authority was handed to it by the US military, and in Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan where there is weak political leadership.  Iran has further expanded its power through its allies and affiliated organizations in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.  Iran will continue to do so until they are countered with force or by a competing political influence.

The Gaza Strip is now firmly in the control of Hamas, a radical terrorist group funded by Iran and Syria.  Some have called Gaza "Hamas-stan", expecting that the area will become an Islamic quasi-state askin to Iran where Sharia law is strictly enforced.  The influence of the West and America in the Middle East appears to be in decline because of a lack of political will in Washington and European capitals. 

The consequences of retreat from the Middle East will result in Iranian and/or Islamo-fascism filling the power vacuum left by the West in the region.  This probability will have dire consequences for the West politically, economically, and strategically. 

It is imperative that the West, led by the United States, counteract the offensive taking place against Western interests in the Middle East.  Fostering democracy is a worthy goal, but it must follow, not precede,  the defeat of Islamic extremism on the battlefield and in the hearts and minds of the people in Muslim countries. 

Should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, the balance of power will fundamentally shift in the region.  Other Arab states may also pursue nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Iranian aggression.  Israel would also be under an ever present threat of annihilation by a country whose leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has suggested he is willing to martyr his entire nation for the sake of destroying the Jewish state.

President Bush seems to have ruled out a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Despite the trouble in Iraq, this is the wrong position for the Bush administration to take.  Failing to confront Iran military on the nuclear issue would all but guarantee the West's retreat from the Middle East and would pave the way for radicalism throughout the region while extinguishing all hope for democracy and peace.

Before taking military action, America and the West can take many other steps to prevent the expansion of Iranian power and influence.  The Iranian economy is weak and vulnerable.  A concerted effort of industrial sabotage would greatly weaken Iran's ability to export terror and work towards weapons of mass destruction.  An intensive effort at promoting democracy through radio broadcasts and the internet would also go a long way to help dissidents inside Iran.  Radio Free Europe gave hope to millions behind the Iron Curtain in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia and helped spur individuals like Lech Welesa to stand up to Soviet oppression.  There is no reason why such efforts cannot work in the Middle East as they did in Eastern Europe.  Western intelligence agencies could also drastically increase their support of groups in Iran that are working for the overthrow of the Iranian and Syrian governments.

The West does not have to be in retreat, but it appears willing to accept defeat and decline because of war weariness, lack of political will, and an absence of strong leadership in the region.  The consequences of retreat are unacceptable to Western interests and values. 

Jonathan D. Strong is proprietor of The Strong Conservative website
International affairs is a zero sum game.  When power is withdrawn by one state, another state or group will fill that power vacuum.  History has proven this in the past.  When British hegemony declined, American power filled that gap in the western world.  Communism similarly filled power vacuums left after America's withdrawal from Vietnam and President Jimmy Carter's defense spending cuts, and diminished American influence in Africa, South America, and Asia.

The same rules of international affairs hold true today.  Should America withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that power vacuum will be filled by some state or group.  In the Middle East, it is clear that Iran is filling power vacuums that the Iraqi government has not filled when authority was handed to it by the US military, and in Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan where there is weak political leadership.  Iran has further expanded its power through its allies and affiliated organizations in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan.  Iran will continue to do so until they are countered with force or by a competing political influence.

The Gaza Strip is now firmly in the control of Hamas, a radical terrorist group funded by Iran and Syria.  Some have called Gaza "Hamas-stan", expecting that the area will become an Islamic quasi-state askin to Iran where Sharia law is strictly enforced.  The influence of the West and America in the Middle East appears to be in decline because of a lack of political will in Washington and European capitals. 

The consequences of retreat from the Middle East will result in Iranian and/or Islamo-fascism filling the power vacuum left by the West in the region.  This probability will have dire consequences for the West politically, economically, and strategically. 

It is imperative that the West, led by the United States, counteract the offensive taking place against Western interests in the Middle East.  Fostering democracy is a worthy goal, but it must follow, not precede,  the defeat of Islamic extremism on the battlefield and in the hearts and minds of the people in Muslim countries. 

Should Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, the balance of power will fundamentally shift in the region.  Other Arab states may also pursue nuclear weapons as a deterrent to Iranian aggression.  Israel would also be under an ever present threat of annihilation by a country whose leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has suggested he is willing to martyr his entire nation for the sake of destroying the Jewish state.

President Bush seems to have ruled out a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.  Despite the trouble in Iraq, this is the wrong position for the Bush administration to take.  Failing to confront Iran military on the nuclear issue would all but guarantee the West's retreat from the Middle East and would pave the way for radicalism throughout the region while extinguishing all hope for democracy and peace.

Before taking military action, America and the West can take many other steps to prevent the expansion of Iranian power and influence.  The Iranian economy is weak and vulnerable.  A concerted effort of industrial sabotage would greatly weaken Iran's ability to export terror and work towards weapons of mass destruction.  An intensive effort at promoting democracy through radio broadcasts and the internet would also go a long way to help dissidents inside Iran.  Radio Free Europe gave hope to millions behind the Iron Curtain in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia and helped spur individuals like Lech Welesa to stand up to Soviet oppression.  There is no reason why such efforts cannot work in the Middle East as they did in Eastern Europe.  Western intelligence agencies could also drastically increase their support of groups in Iran that are working for the overthrow of the Iranian and Syrian governments.

The West does not have to be in retreat, but it appears willing to accept defeat and decline because of war weariness, lack of political will, and an absence of strong leadership in the region.  The consequences of retreat are unacceptable to Western interests and values. 

Jonathan D. Strong is proprietor of The Strong Conservative website