U.S. Changes StrategyAgainst Axis of Evil

Less than 7 years ago, after the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan and Bush’s powerful actions against the Taliban, and under the conditions which would satisfy George Bush, in his annual speech to congress he named Iran together with Iraq and North Korea the “Axis of Evil” and defined the White House’s strategy to bring them to their knees.

One year after that speech, the United States quickly attacked Iraq, overthrew its dictator and invaded Baghdad. Over the past few weeks the US foreign ministry celebrated bringing North Korea to its knees. This brought the second member of the Axis of Evil’s resistance to an end. However, all of the White House’s efforts against its most powerful enemy, at least in the Middle East, has failed. While the American diplomatic system has spent more time, energy and money on the Iran project than those of Iraq and North Korea, this project has had the least progress.

By analyzing the feedback from Iraq and North Korea the White House has recently started changing its strategy towards Iran. However, the Central Intelligence Agency lead the Iraq project and the majority of the project’s reports and worries are classified in nature.

Nuclear transactions with Niger, the ability to activate weapons of mass destruction networks within 45 minutes, and the possession of long range missiles were the results of the CIA’s intelligence operations and were the main reasons Bush and Blair put forth for invading Iraq. While it didn’t convince the world, or even Western Allies of the US such as Germany and France, to legitimize an attack against Iraq, it also caused an enormous scandal in the White House after little was found in post-Saddam Iraq.

Before the execution of the Iraq plan by the White House, there were similar activities enacted on the Iran project. One of the former CIA officials said that there were more than 900 US Intelligence Officers working on Iran in the 90’s and one of their goals was to make a case out of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Ms. Vallery Plame, whose identity was revealed during the tense times between the New York Times and the White House on nuclear transactions between Iraq and Niger, was the manager of “Project Merlin” on Iran by the CIA. She later confessed on the CBS that the project had been pursuing a broad range of activities in order to deter Iran’s nuclear activities from the route it was taking.

While the US was getting ready to attack Iraq during the second half of 2002, the CIA executed the Iran project and revealed parts of documents against Iran through the utilization of the “Mojahedin Khalgh” terrorist group.

However, due to the scandal in Iraq and the decline of George Bush’s credibility in the international community, the White House failed not only to create an alignment against Tehran, but also lost forces in Iraq from the UK, Spain, Australia and a few Eastern European countries. This left the US alone in dealing with Iran and a preference for a more diplomatic approach. The US diplomatic system worked 4 years on Iran, but has not yet been able to exert any real pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, and still has not been able to stop its nuclear programs.

From the other side, the North Korean experience along with the involvement of China and Russia in the talks, which extended the time and the cost of the agreement, made the White House rethink its strategy in light of its experiences in Iraq and North Korea and the failure of the Iran project. The change of strategy towards Iran included two major components–the first was to take the issue from intelligence and security and present it as a technical and political issue. The second was to change the role of the US from the head of the arrow by forming an international alliance against the nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic.

To execute this strategic change, two steps where necessary–the first was the intelligence agency’s wise revelation of last December’s report, which turned attention away from intelligence reports of past years about Iran’s nuclear weapon’s ambitions. The other step was Washington’s creation of the 5+1 group to negotiate and put pressure on Iran. By taking this step the four world powers of Russia, China, France, and Germany, which had been opposed to the United States’ plan, where aligned against Iran.

The combination of these steps resulted in putting an increasing amount of pressure on Iran, broadening sanctions, ignoring agreements and clarifying the remaining issues through Iran’s cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agencey (IAEA).

From another point of view, actions like the Holocaust denial and media attacks on Israel, gave reason to putting Israel as the head of the arrow against Iran.

The results of the change in strategy towards Iran by the US are becoming clear–on one hand, Tehran sees not only one country, but all the world powers against it and on the other, Iran must deal with the illegal threats by Israel.

The question that arises now for the Islamic Republic is whether its own strategy against the US over the past four years will still be useful considering the US change in strategy, or will Tehran have to change its own strategy to make a stand and get out of the current situation?

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