Iran: Next Up in the "Battling Cage"?

President Bush announced "the game is over" for Iraq and began an invasion. Even before end of the first inning, cheerleader G.W. declared V-I-C-T-O-R-Y:

When I say go, you say fight
Go, fight. Go, fight.
When I say win, you say tonight
Win, tonight. Win tonight.
Go, fight. Win, tonight!

Pity poor Iraq, led by Jr. Pee Wee league washed up coach Saddam Hussein facing the U.S. Allstars with more experience and talents than one hundred Iraqs.

The U.S. team's political lineup included pitcher Don Rumsfeld and catcher Colin Powell, first baseman Paul Wolfowitz, Condi Rice did a great job at Second Base, with Ari Fleisher at Shortstop, and Bill Kristol on Third...all coached by Richard Perle and managed by Carl Rove. The MVP award, naturally, went to Dick Cheney who, while barely visible, still manages to provide the edge on the Senate field.

Seasoned fans cheered lustily from the stands and familiar faces dotted the crowd: Henry Kissinger, George Bush Sr., James Woolsey, Harold Brown, Dan Quayle and James Schlesinger.

The victory was almost assured from the start.

So, who's up next on the US-league Middle East roster: Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or someone else? Based on the administration's new doctrine for military intervention there's lots of fair territory to cover; ties to terrorism, lack of civil freedoms, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD), just for starters.

Every one of these countries strikes out regarding their claims to not supporting terrorism. From the financial, training, and organizational aid given by Syria and Iran to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah to the embarrassing Saudi background of Osama Bin Laden and al-Queda the position of these teams is fairly weak. According to Gen. Thomas A. Schwartz, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee warns, "North Korea has reportedly sold at least 450 missiles to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and others."

Each also hits fouls when it comes to democracy. President Asad of Syria seized power during a military coup in 1970. Iran became a theocracy in 1979 after Ayatolla Khomeini lead a revolution to overthrow CIA-installed Shah Pahlavi. In 1999, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Musharraf overthrew the democratically elected government of Pakistan, suspended the constitution, and became the Chief Executive. And, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy run by Ibn Saud's descendants.

But these teams are capable of getting hits, even grand slams. Pakistan holds nuclear bombs in reserve. Syria is close to Israel and has long been an irritant to that country. "Few other states world-wide, maintain this scale of military effort of Saudi Arabia," according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. And many are concerned about Tehran's ultimate goals in the region. "Iran is a big country and it worries its neighbors just like a big muscular person would," says analyst Nayef Ebeid, of the UAE-based Sheikh Zaid Center for Strategic Studies.

But if these teams appear to be underrated, plans of the "coalition of the willing" also look like they need some updates.

During the past century, America and Great Britain have both coveted the title "Winner-Middle East World Series!" But despite colonial rule, installation of puppet regimes, and "peace talks" neither country seems to make much headway in the region. Could it be that the pinch-hitters of American foreign policy are still playing with an outdated cold-war strategy playbook containing chapters like: Domino Theory, "Pax Americana", and Anglo-American hegemony?

Back to handicapping the odds for the "next war".

I'll place my bets on Iran. Whether the war in Iraq turns out to be a "Texas leagur" or a shutout, the U.S. has had many years to draw up plans for an invasion of Iran.

If the current team doesn't get sent to the showers because of their handling of Iraq, Iran will then be completely surrounded by U.S. military troops. Many policy makers, within both political parties, still remember how Iran bloodied our country's nose in the 1979 defeat when Iran took 52 Americans hostage after seizing the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. There are plenty who feel that there is unfinished business and old scores to settle.

President Bush as singled out Iran as one of three "rouge states" along with Iraq and North Korea. Policy papers and military strategies also support some idea that Iran will get the next green light. The 2000 report by the influential Project for the New American Century (PNAC) titled "Rebuilding America's Defense Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century" specifically articulates the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf that transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein. It states "Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has."

Charles V. Pena, a senior defense analyst at the Cato Institute recently posed, "If toppling Saddam Hussein goes as quickly and easily as advocates of war against Iraq assume, then why not take on the rest of the axis of evil (not to mention the other dozen or so countries that the Pentagon says are engaged in weapons of mass destruction programs and represent a threat to the United States? Clearly, Iran is a logical candidate."

Iran, Syria, South Korea. What's your pick? Summer is already heating up and we're in for an interesting season any way we go. It's anyone's guess what the long-term outcome will be.

Team America certainly sounds like its playing to win, but many still thinks it's all just trash talk.

Are the citizens of sovereign nations going to be ejected from their own ballparks like unruly parents?
Will "God" intervene and cause a rainout? Or are season ticket-holders going to get fed up with the entire thing and force a management change?

Stay tuned. In the mean time, a big Bronx Cheer to those who insist on war every time they go to bat.

We need a friendly ump.

Peace - Charlie


Charlie Jackson, founder of Texans for Peace, recently returned from his second trip to Iraq, undertaken through the Christian Peacemaker Teams organization of Chicago. He is a high-tech CEO and lives with his two sons in San Antonio.


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