The people of both the United States and Iraq can take great comfort in the news of Saddam Hussein’s capture by US forces. Yet without taking anything away from the greatness of yesterday’s milestone, Americans should not lose sight of the other challenges that remain to be faced.
One continuing problem with the Bush Administration’s Middle East strategy is that while the threat of Iraq has been answered, the larger question of the rising threat of Iran remains. It is no secret that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. Yet what exactly is the US position toward Iran? Will we seek to contain it, like we contained the former Soviet Union? Will we provide support and moral sanction to those in Iran who seek to overthrow the mullahs? Will we attack Iran, and place its terrorist-supporting leaders in cells adjoining Saddam’s? Or will we ignore Iran, like we ignored it in the years prior to 9/11? America’s strategy toward Iran remains to be seen.
And it ought to be noted that a consequence of the Bush administration’s strategy of delay as it begged the world’s favor in dealing with Iraq is that America is now perceived simultaneously as a hegemonist and a weakling. Our enemies know that Iraq was the easy target compared to Iran, yet it took us over a year after the shock of 9/11 to invade it. All that time, America’s leaders repeatedly genuflected toward international opinion. America’s leaders repeatedly attempted to appease untrue allies when the proper response would have been to act boldly and without the sanction of any body other than our own institutions. And America’s leaders repeatedly placed “Iraqi freedom” before “American security” as our primary purpose.
Yet despite the administration's missteps, the fundamental truth remains. If it is true that the US was right to apply force to Iraq to prevent a bloody dictatorship from obtaining WMD’s, the same holds true for Iran.
It has been said that the capture of Saddam was made possible by the successful integration of many different sources of intelligence. I hope our leaders will be capable of the proper moral integrations necessary to subdue Iran.