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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Domino theory comes to the Middle East

The domino theory was a foreign policy theory during the 1950s to 1980s, promoted at times by the government of the United States, that speculated that if one land in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The domino effect suggests that some change, small in itself, will cause a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence, by analogy to a falling row of dominoes standing on end. The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to clarify the need for American intervention around the world.
On Tuesday, I noted that Iran was following up its takeover in Lebanon through its Hezbullah proxy but attempting to take over Iraq. But Farid Ghadry sees the next domino falling elsewhere in the Arab world, and he sees it falling soon... in Bahrain.
What are the chances that the same people we trusted with one failed policy repeat it elsewhere? Iran, under the Mullahs, is preparing to acquire its next prize in the region and for the first time, it will head south where it has already funded a secret Hezbollah-type organization to be deployed in countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. While King Abdullah is concerned about his borders with Iraq against an infiltration by the Mullahs of Iran, the easiest route is the causeway that links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia. Abdullah sold Lebanon for pennies in the belief he is posting sentries on his main entrance with Assad’s help when the Mullahs have been planning all along to enter through the window. If you are that foolish to trust Assad, you deserve a harsh lesson in reality.

Grant you, Bahrain is protected by the US through NAVCENT (US Naval Base Command Center). But soon-to-be lame duck Obama, who believes in spreading wealth more than he believes in spreading freedom, will, at best, utter some hollow tough words, move the US fleet in circles, call 95 different worldly figures to lecture them, and speak at the UN to show that he doing something. Obama will not go to war for a small nation he hardly knows it exists and the worst part is that Ahmadinajead knows it. Is there a chance that between Nov. 3 and Jan. 20 Iran would stir trouble in Bahrain while Obama and Pelosi are busy passing more socialist laws instead of paying attention to US interests overseas? Absolutely.
Building on an article by Karim Sadjadpour, Matt Duss argues that Iran is like the Soviet Union, but much weaker.
Sadjadpour concludes — by way of George Kennan’s 1947 essay The Sources of Soviet Conduct — that the Soviet Union is actually the closest comparison to be made:
Like the Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic is a corrupt, inefficient, authoritarian regime whose bankrupt ideology resonates far more abroad than it does at home. Also like the men who once ruled Moscow, Iran’s current leaders have a victimization complex and, as they themselves admit, derive their internal legitimacy from thumbing their noses at Uncle Sam.
I think this makes a lot of sense, but, having established a rough model for predicting Iran’s behavior, it’s necessary to go the next step and recognize that Iran is far, far weaker than the Soviet Union was, and doesn’t pose anything like the global threat to U.S. interests that the Soviet Union once did.
Was the domino theory valid? I would argue that it was, but that it failed because the Soviet Union was met by an equally determined United States, and the Soviets' power peaked before they embarked on ventures like Southeast Asia. That allowed the Soviets to collapse under the misguided weight of their own ideology.

Iran, on the other hand, is bringing countries under its sphere of influence while it is still ascendant. It is met by a far less determined United States, which does not directly identify the enemy (militant Islam). And unlike the Soviet Union, Iran has a religious fervor that has the potential to carry it much further in collapsing dominoes than the Soviet Union ever got. The only power that will stand in Iran's way is Israel, and Iran is in the process of trying to box Israel in through its spheres of influence (I'd watch Jordan next in that regard).

Bahrain? Iraq? Who's next? What could go wrong?


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