Special Report

On the Defensive Since 9/11

The U.S. has been cringing and wobbling on the Middle East.

By 2.6.07

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A new phenomenon is growing. An amalgam of the cringing left and wobbly right have decided that the United States remains the aggressor in Iraq and that may soon spill over into Iran. Apparently this unholy alliance can't tell the difference between offense and defense.

The U.S. is now and has been on the defensive since 9/11. Admittedly the American and coalition forces briefly were tactically on the offense when they successfully invaded Iraq and destroyed Saddam Hussein's grip on power. What has followed afterward has been purely defensive action.

If the Marines had been truly on the offensive in Falluja, they would have used the same tactics so effective in World War II against the Japanese at Iwo Jima and elsewhere. Napalm followed by flame-throwers and Bangalore torpedoes would have flattened all resistance in that Sunni and foreign fighters' stronghold. Similar devastating offensive tactics would have been used where necessary throughout Iraq to pacify insurgent centers.

That's the way to take a dug-in defended position, and it is truly offensive action in the clearest and most effective form. To have our troops manning sandbagged road blocks to avoid being killed by snipers and suicide bombers or our recon patrols and supply convoys the target of IED's are strictly defensive operations. This form of military activity in no way can be characterized as encouraging offensive spillover to Iran.

The attempt to connect American presence in Iraq to a grand Middle East plan that includes the destruction of Iran's nuclear capability seems to have taken a twisted turn so as to scare the American public already preparing for a new president in 2008. The corkscrew logic suggests that the best defense for the United States against Iran's nuclear weapon development is swiftly to remove our forces as much and as far as possible from the Middle East.

This thesis is predicated on Iranian nuclear ambitions ending at the time of the imminent demise of the dastardly Ahmahdinejad. This change will come about sooner, it is argued, if the Americans would only get out of Iraq -- and preferably the entire region -- as soon as possible. American military presence in the Middle East is deemed to carry an intrinsic offensive character and thus threatens the peace-loving Persians.

In other words the "good guys" in Iran will kick out the "bad guys" if Washington will just carry on with diplomatic negotiations and refrain from threatening Tehran with loss of their nuclear weapon development sites. Just one thing is forgotten: Iran's nuclear ambitions began way back in the days of the Shah. It was he who originally decided that Iran would have to match India and Pakistan's nuclear weapon and missile programs.

The Gulf States quivered with fear over the growth of Persian military and naval power as early as the seventies. A temporary ban on nuclear development of all kinds occurred after the clerical revolution, but that was rescinded in the late eighties long before Ahmadinejad came into power. He just has been more aggressive in Iran's ambitions and open defiance of United Nations supervision.

In order for diplomatic and economic pressure to work on Iran, it must be backed up by a credible military threat. That's what the two carrier battle groups in and around the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea provide -- not the U.S. ground forces in Iraq.

The Iranian plan for the acquisition of nuclear weapons is not for defensive purposes. On the contrary, the only utility of these weapons would be offensive in nature. Iran's sole regional rival from whom it might have feared attack was Iraq, and that potential no longer exists.

The whining of the cringers and wobblers is simply an effort once again to pretend a problem only exists because the United States is willing to stand up and challenge. The U.S. is made to appear the aggressive party in the Middle East while the Iranian ruling clique is peaceful and with no offensive aims, in spite of its creation and guidance of Hezbollah, aid to Hamas, and arming of anti-American Shia militias in Iraq.

Nuclear weapon proliferation by America-hating, terror-supporting regimes, such as Iran, must be blocked by all means necessary -- diplomatic, economic, political and military, if necessary. That is the only way to defend against Iranian ambitions in the Middle East. There is no room to wobble on this.

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About the Author
George H. Wittman writes a weekly column on international affairs for The American Spectator online. He was the founding chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy.