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September 6, 2009
A War on Two Fronts
I just finished reading The Places in Between by Rory Stewart, a chronicle of his walk across Afghanistan.
The most significant observation I learned from the book was the closeness between Iran and Afghanistan. Almost every young man Stewart met had worked at one time in Iran - whether to earn enough money to buy a wife, or just to have enough money to eat.
That inspired me to take another look at the map.
Afghanistan shares a long, flat border with Iran. Afghanistan also shares a long, very mountainous border with Pakistan.
All of the attention of the US military involvement in Afghanistan is focused on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the eastern and southern parts of Afghanistan. We're adding tens of thousands of soldiers there.
Critics of our policies, most recently George Will, discuss our involvement in Afghanistan only from the perspectives of nation building and rooting out terrorists who are dangerous to us.
Nobody mentions the Iran connection. Is this the elephant in the room?
We now have or will soon have 68,000 US troops in the country to the east of Iran. We have 131,000 US troops in the country, Iraq, to the west of Iran. Hmm.
Maybe I've read too many Tom Clancy novels, but here's my take: Al Qaeda was responsible for planning the Sept. 11 events that cost almost 3000 lives on American soil. We have waged very successful battles against Al Qaeda that has effectively neutralized them.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Iran has sponsored terrorist activities that have cost tens of thousands of lives in Iraq, including over 4000 US servicemen. During the same period, Iran has built a nuclear weapons and long range missile program that will soon bear fruit. Iran will soon be a nuclear power, capable of accurately firing nuclear-bomb-tipped missiles into Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the entire Middle East, and even Russia.
So, who is the bigger danger to the United States and our allies? A group that is capable of hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings or a nation whose objective is to destroy Western civilization, has the means to do so, and replace it with a fundamentalist Islamic nation that finds individual liberty repugnant?
I think the US military has a strategy in place to attack and defeat Iran and I hope it succeeds.
We can set up massive anti-radar stations in Iraq and Afghanistan, completely jamming Iran's anti-aircraft defense systems. Then, in the slip of the night, Israeli jets can fly into Iran and destroy their nuclear weapons and long range missile programs, effectively denuclearizing Iran for good. Bomb them back into the Stone Age.
If this is not our strategy, I hope it is. Iran is the real threat. Talk is cheap. It's time for action.