Dealing with Iran’s Exercise of “Smart Power”

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The Financial Times, a right of center but highly respected newspaper, could not resist about coming up with a sensational headline: “Hizbollah confirms broad aid for Hamas.”  The Hizbollah-Hamas connection is not exactly an unknown variable, only its specifics are.  Even after the admission of Hezbollah’s deputy leader that his organization is providing military assistance to Hamas, the issue still remains murky and unconfirmed by other sources.  Why, then, is there so much hoopla about Hezbollah’s admission of support for Hamas? Because that reality only underscores the effective exercise of “smart power” on the part of Iran–Hezbollah’s chief backer–in the Sunni Middle East.  That is also worrying the United States, which, under the Obama administration, is relearning to come up with its own smart power-related maneuvers towards Iran.

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America’s Fresh Start

There comes a time in the history of nations–even for the lone superpower–when it needs a fresh start.  Today is just that day.  America is going to have a fresh start.  As President Barack H. Obama stated, America is ready to lead the world once again.  This is not an appropriate time to dwell on the past, but a cursory look is vital, if nothing else, for the sake of some sense of perspective about where the United States is heading as a nation.

 

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Tidibits and Morsels (3)

ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, RESTART THE BARMY ARMS RACE!

 

The Cold War in its old form disappeared when the Soviet Union imploded.  But the U.S.-Russian competition did not.  The United States continued a strange policy of expanding the NATO membership and bringing that Alliance all the way to the Russian borders, despite strong and continued protestations from Mosow.  It was highly irrational on the part of the United States to think that Russia should only listen to its rhetoric–which went along the lines that “we are no longer adversaries”–and totally ignore its near obsession with the NATO enlargement.

 

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A Wrong-Headed Drumbeat on Iran

America’s presidential election debates are driven by a regular fear-mongering drumbeat on Iran.  Both Barack Obama and John McCain are involved in it.  Iran is frequently described as a source of regional turbulence and a sponsor of terrorism.  A similar type of drumbeat on Iraq led to America’s “war of choice.”  Those–especially the critics of George W. Bush’s style of unilateralism that resulted in his decision to invade Iraq–who think that Democrats somehow will not fall into the same type of wrong-headed decision regarding Iran are patently wrong. 

 

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Iraq: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

If either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the net presidential election, there is going to be a radical change at least in the current size of American troop presence in Iraq.  But if John McCain were to win, the present U.S. commitment would remain the same or would even increase.  But the bottom line regarding Iraq is that making a clean break from there is well nigh impossible for America.  At least three explanations are being offered for not getting out of Iraq.  The first one is that the terrorist-extremists would takeover Iraq.  The second one is that America’s withdrawal means its defeat and soiling of its reputation as hegemon (not used pejoratively here).  And that such an eventuality would permanently damage its presence and interests in that region.  Finally, it is argued that America’s withdrawal from Iraq would lead to an immense boosting of Iran’s clout and influence in the Middle East.  A closer look at these explanations is in order.

 

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