Sunday, October 10, 2004


The law of unintended consequences strikes again

I thought the US invasion of Iraq was supposed to, and was at least partially intended to by its neocon cheerleaders, make Israel safer by removing Israel's main strategic enemy, Iraq.

Guess again.

Iran - large, ambitious and run by radical clerics committed to the destruction of the Jewish state - is seen by Israelis as the most obvious and urgent threat today to Israel's very existence.

The overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan eliminated one of Iran's main fundamentalist rivals to its east, while the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to its west eliminated Iran's main military rival in the Persian Gulf. Not only is Mr. Hussein gone, but much of Iraq is in disorder, presenting opportunities for Iran to meddle in Iraq's heavily Shiite south, even to create a kind of Iranistan there.

So the Israelis who plan for this country's security confront a paradox: While they are relieved that the American invasion of Iraq removed a sworn enemy, they are increasingly nervous about the opportunities that the same invasion has opened for another. And they see the Middle East moving from conventional military rivalries to far more dangerous nuclear rivalries.

Iran would be an enemy of Israel no matter what, and Iran would be seeking nuclear weapons no matter what. Our destabilizing and weakening Iraq did not create either of those situations. But it clearly "emboldended" (to use a word George W. Bush seems to favor) the ayatollahs and "moolahs" to be far more open about their efforts. Just as North Korea seems to have become far more aggressive in seeking nukes. Just as Pakistan has done nothing to punish A. Q. Khan.

Funny. I thought the invasion of Iraq was supposed to make us uncontestably safer.

Of course, considering that this kind of chaos was foreseen by some opponents of the invasion means you can't call these consequences completely unintended.

Unless you're George W. ("What, me worry?") Bush.
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