Amidst all the headlines—taking note of the end of the year, as well as the end of the decade—one headline, for this author, stands out. That headline looms large not because it speaks of something that has happened, but because it speaks of something that could happen. That is, a new Cold War, in which the U.S. is forced to square off with dominant Eurasian powers, operating in unison. That’s a scary concept, made even scarier, of course, by the risk that a cold war can always get hot.
The headline in the December 28 Financial Times was modest, even if it did appear on the front page: “US rivals launch Mideast war games.” As the newspaper put it, “Russia, China, and Iran launched their first joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman yesterday, throwing down a direct challenge to U.S. influence in the Middle East.”
We might pause over those words, “a direct challenge to U.S. influence.” The article quoted Iranian admiral Gholamreza Tahani as saying, “The most important achievement of these drills . . . is the message that the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be isolated.” Tahani added, “These exercises show that relations between Iran, Russia, and China have a reached a new high level while this trend will continue in the coming years.”
The U.S. response to this development was muted; the FT quoted an unnamed State Department official saying that Iran should “think twice” about conducting joint naval exercises, warning that such actions “should concern all nations with an interest in safeguarding freedom of navigation in the region.” These words won’t exactly strike fear into the Iranians; especially since, as the article recalls, the Iranians shot down a U.S. drone in June and seized a British-flagged oil tanker allegedly in their territorial waters in July—and the U.S. didn’t do anything in response.
Thus the Iranians seem undaunted, and now, of course, thanks to their improving relationship with China and Russia, they have far more strategic depth.
So maybe that’s why there’s new pressure on U.S. forces currently in Iraq, which, of course, borders Iran. It’s long been understood that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 had the inadvertent effect of opening the door to Iranian influence in that country, and it could well have been the hand of Iran that fired the rocket that killed a U.S. contractor on December 27. That death led to a familiar American response—airstrikes.
A few days later, on December 31, the Iranians might have played their hand again. According to the BBC, “Protesters angered by recent deadly US airstrikes targeting an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia have attacked the US embassy compound in Baghdad.” That attack on an embassy, of course, brings back memories of the Iranian seizure, in 1979, of the American embassy in Tehran—an event that vexed America for more than a year, echoing ever since.
In other words, it’s at least possible that the Iranians are deploying “asymmetric” tactics on us—that is, an attack on the U.S. that’s not for sure traceable back …read more
Via:: American Conservative
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