Monday, February 26, 2007

Could Tehran soon look like this?

I am becoming increasingly convinced that the question surrounding a bombing raid against Irans nuclear programme is not a question of 'if' but 'when'.

At the end of last year I visited Israel as part of a group of Conservative Candidates and we spent five days
meeting academics, policy makers, senior diplomats, miltary spokesmen and politicians from all sides and top of the agenda was the question of Iran; specifically, Irans potential threat as a nuclear power. None of the Israeli's we spoke to felt that Israel was politically unified or militarily strong enough at the moment to consider acting against Iran alone but universally they also said that a nuclear Iran was inconcievable to Isrealis.

They were also universally opposed to the US action in Iraq because they worried, I think wrongly, that the WMD fiasco had damaged US public opinion and their will to act in future.

Like most observers I could never see the point of toppling Saddam because the WMD thing never looked convincing. But I never believed that the Iraq invasion was about oil either.

But there is an alternative viewpoint the Iraq war that perhaps a historical 20:20 might reveal. In the future we may look back and see that the Iraq invasion was 'necessary' in order to make a move against Tehran a possibility; because it put 150,000 troops and a large part of the US fleet within striking distance; plus provides safe landing space for strike aircraft, either from Isreal or elsewhere, to refuel.

America knows through it's own experiences with Libya and Isrealis experiences with Egypt and Jordan that using force or being in a position to threaten force can work in the Middle East.

The US holds Iran to be the main enemy of peace in the region, the root cause of all that is unstable in their view.

So I have come to believe that Iraq and Afghanistan are in fact staging posts in a much more ambitious US plan - regime change in Iran.

And be in no doubt, a change of administration in the US won't make a difference. Although Democrats hate the Iraq conflict they have never forgiven the Iranians for costing them the Carter presidency which gave Ronald Reagan the chance to end the Democrats post-war domination of American politics.

So far as America's involvement in the Middle East is concerned, to use a Churchill quote, now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

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