In Washington a remarkable and ominous campaign is under way to “contain Iran,” which turns out to mean “containing Iranian influence,” in a confrontation that Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright calls “Cold War II.”
The sequel bears close scrutiny as it unfolds under the direction of former Kremlinologists Condoleezza Rice and Robert M Gates, according to Wright. Stalin had imposed an Iron Curtain to bar Western influence; Bush-Rice-Gates are imposing a Green Curtain to bar Iranian influence.
Washington’s concerns are understandable. In Iraq, Iranian support is welcomed by much of the majority Shia population. In Afghanistan, President Karzai describes Iran as “a helper and a solution.” In Palestine, Iranian-backed Hamas won a free election, eliciting savage punishment of the Palestinian population by the United States and Israel for voting “the wrong way.” In Lebanon, most Lebanese see Iranian-backed Hezbollah “as a legitimate force defending their country from Israel,” Wright reports. And the Bush administration, without irony, charges that Iran is “meddling” in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference.
The ensuing debate is partly technical. Do the serial numbers on the Improvised Explosive Devices really trace back to Iran? If so, does the leadership of Iran know about the IEDs, or only the Iranian Revolutionary Guards? Settling the debate, the White House plans to brand the Revolutionary Guards as a “specially designated global terrorist” force, an unprecedented action against a national military branch, authorising Washington to undertake a wide range of punitive actions.