OpinionIran in the World PressBush and Iran, again

Bush and Iran, again

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ImageWall Street Journal – REVIEW & OUTLOOK: The Bush Administration is once again pointing to Iran as the source of trouble in Iraq, and rightly so judging by all the evidence. Note to the White House: The Iranians aren't likely to stop unless the U.S. starts doing something about it.

The Wall Street Journal

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

April 15, 2008; Page A18

ImageThe Bush Administration is once again pointing to Iran as the source of trouble in Iraq, and rightly so judging by all the evidence. Note to the White House: The Iranians aren't likely to stop unless the U.S. starts doing something about it.

Iran has long funneled men and materiel to insurgents and provided safe havens across the border. But now the Administration is saying that Tehran's "malign" influence has reached a new level. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus told Congress last week that Iranian-supplied rockets have attacked the Green Zone in Baghdad, while Iranian-armed Shiites battled the Iraqi government in the Basra offensive. As General Petraeus put it, this Iranian meddling is a danger to U.S. troops and "the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq."
 
At a Friday press conference, Mr. Crocker added that Tehran is also developing "proxy" militias in Iraq that "are really instruments of the Iranian government" by way of the Revolutionary Guard. General Petraeus described these "special groups" as "funded, trained, armed and directed by" Iran. He testified that the U.S. has uncovered weapons caches from Iran and detained "senior leaders" of Iranian-supported groups who described how they "move to and from Iran, where they are trained, indoctrinated, how they're funded, [and] how they bring weapons and so forth into the country."

And don't take only their word for it. In a recent interview with a newspaper in Qatar, an Iraqi Sunni insurgent vented about Iran's support for al Qaeda in Iraq. "We found Iranian [currency] at an al Qaeda headquarters that we uncovered," Ahmad Salal al-Din told Al-Arab, as translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "We have also captured Iranian weapons, not to mention audio and video recordings containing announcements by al Qaeda fighters that they had received training in Iranian military camps and that al Qaeda wounded were being transported to Iran for medical treatment."

These tactics will be familiar to anyone who has followed Iran's history in Lebanon, where Hezbollah, backed by Iran, is trying to bring down the elected government. Or in Gaza, where Iran's Revolutionary Guard trains and equips Hamas. "Iran is pursuing, as it were, a 'Lebanonization' strategy," Mr. Crocker told Congress, "using the same techniques they used in Lebanon, to co-opt elements of the local Shia community and use them as basically instruments of Iranian force."

This is all remarkable enough – a mountain of evidence that Iran is waging a proxy war against U.S. troops and our allies in Iraq. Still more remarkable, and depressing, is that most of Washington has reacted with a collective "So what?" It's as if it's understood that the mullahs can kill Americans and get away with it. Part of the fault here lies with the Bush Administration, which has previously spoken up about Iran only to shrink from doing anything about it.

Meanwhile, last week Tehran announced it has begun installing another 6,000 centrifuges at its Natanz uranium enrichment complex. After five years of deferring to Europe and the United Nations to keep Iran from going nuclear, President Bush's diplomacy has reached an embarrassing dead end.

So: Iran is contributing to the death of GIs, is arming our enemies in Iraq, and is proceeding to ignore the world by enriching uranium for a nuclear weapon. Is the Bush Administration merely going to slink out of office with that legacy?

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