September 04, 2009

Afghanistan: Back Door to War on Iran

By Stephen Sniegoski, September 7, 2009 - Excerpt

The major domestic supporters of an accelerated war in Afghanistan are the neoconservatives. As Ben Smith writes in a recent piece in “Politico” (Sept. 4, 2009), “Prominent conservative foreign policy thinkers and activists who backed the Iraq war are circulating a letter to President
Obama supporting his engagement in Afghanistan against criticism from left and right, and urging him to stay the course.”

Of course, these “conservatives” actually are neoconservatives. Signatories of the pro-war letter include such prominent neocons as: McCain’s major foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, “Commentary” editor John Podhoretz, Gary Schmitt, Iraq surge architect Fred Kagan, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, “Weekly Standard” editor Bill Kristol, former Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor, Eliot A. Cohen (who coined the term “World War IV”), Eric Edelman, John Hannah, and Joshua Muravchik. These neocons have been intimately involved in the neocon Middle East war agenda and are discussed in my book “The Transparent Cabal.”

In fact, neoocons have been supporting Obama on Afghanistan for some time. Neocon Max Boot wrote in late March in a “Commentary” blog: “The new Afghanistan policy that President Obama unveiled at the White House today was pretty much all that supporters of the war effort could have asked for, and probably pretty similar to what President McCain would have decided on.”

And Barron YoungSmith observed in a “New Republic” blog at the beginning of April:

“Kristol and Robert Kagan–the same duo who founded the Iraq War-boosting
Project For the New American Century–decided to create FPI [Foreign Policy
Initiative] in order to beat back what they perceive to be creeping
isolationism and domestic fecklessness (defined by them as military budget
cuts and troop drawdowns) in the face of existential threats. Ordinarily,
one would expect a group like this to oppose President Obama, but since he
unveiled his strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan last week, they have
become some of his biggest cheerleaders.”

Jacob Heilbrunn titled an article on this neocon support for Obama’s interventionist foreign policy, “The New Neocon Alliance with Obama.” (May 1, 2009)

One can ask why neocons have been so enthusiastic about Obama’s focus on Afghanistan since Afghanistan has not been one of their primary concerns. After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the neocons pushed for an immediate attack on Iraq rather than Afghanistan. Temporarily they lost this fight, but they were soon able to divert the US war from Afghanistan to Iraq. ( “The Transparent Cabal,” pp. 141-150)

Since the occupation of Iraq, the neocons have targeted Iran for attack. Iran is seen as Israel’s major enemy-even, allegedly, a threat to Israel’s very existence. So why do the neocons identify so strongly with Obama’s Afghanistan policy? Won’t that divert attention from the issue of Iran? I think there are fundamentally two reasons-one defensive and the other offensive-that explain the neocons support for an expanded war in Afghanistan, which they believe will facilitate their broader Middle Eastwar agenda.

If the US were to abandon a military solution in Afghanistan, it probably would, as an alternative, seek to bring about stability in that beleaguered country through diplomacy. To be effective, this would involve broadening Iran’s role in Afghanistan. If Iran were working to bring about stability in Afghanistan, it would be virtually impossible for the US to treat it as an enemy. American policy toward Iran thus would be decoupled from that of Israel. Moreover, abandonment of the war in Afghanistan could likely begin a chain reaction that would end American involvement in the entire Middle East/Central Asian region. This would mean that the US would abandon any effort to destroy Israel’s enemies. The neocons’ entire Middle East war
agenda would be completely undermined.

In an offensive manner, an accelerated war in Afghanistan could provide a back door to initiating war with Iran. As the American military became bogged down in a no-win war in Afghanistan, Iran could provide a convenient scapegoat. One can envision the neocons trumpeting allegations that American problems in Afghanistan are caused by covert Iranian support for the Taliban insurgents, and that the only way to an American victory in Afghanistan would be by eliminating the Taliban’s Iranian sponsors. Various intelligence reports citing evidence of Iranian weapons and advisors in Afghanistan would be highlighted in the media. The US government has, in
fact, already made these claims. General Petraeus, for example, has publicly claimed that Iran was supporting the Taliban. As it becomes more apparent that the American military is unable to pacify Afghanistan, US military commanders will have a vested interest in blaming their failure on the alleged involvement of the Iranians.

More than just providing a rationale for an attack on Iran, Afghanistan also can provide the physical opportunity to start a war. In pursuit of insurgents, American troops could enter Iranian border regions leading to incidents that could usher in all-out war. In short, it is quite
conceivable to see the United States going to war with Iran by way of Afghanistan. This would provide a back-door to war with Iran without any real consideration of the ramifications of such a war.

In short, the United States could be involved in a war with Iran without Obama actually intending to bring about such a conflagration. It would simply develop as a result of the expanded war in Afghanistan.