Robin Wright in the Washington Post:
"After three decades of festering tensions, the United States and Iran are now facing off in a full-fledged cold war.
When the first Cold War began, in 1946, Winston Churchill famously spoke of an Iron Curtain that had divided Europe. As Cold War II begins half a century later, the Bush administration is trying to drape a kind of Green Curtain dividing the Middle East between Iran's friends and foes. The new showdown may well prove to be the most enduring legacy of the Iraq conflict. The outcome will certainly shape the future of the Middle East -- not least because the administration's strategy seems so unlikely to work.
The new Cold War will take center stage this week, as President Bush dispatches Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to the Middle East for a last-ditch appeal to recalcitrant U.S. allies on Iraq. Their pitch to Sunni Arab regimes spooked by the bloc of countries and movements led by Shiite Persian Iran will be simple: Support Iraq as a buffer against Iran or face living under Tehran's growing shadow."
OMG: A Green Curtain!!1! And what is it exactly that has made Iran's shadow grow so large and menacing? Could it be ... SATAN??
No. It was us.
We had the clever idea of ending several decades of successful containment of Iran by cleverly transforming Iraq from Iran's biggest regional counterweight into a chaotic failed state "led", if that is the right word, by people with close ties to Iran. In the process, we even more cleverly pinned our troops down right where Iran could get at them, and gave them every incentive to do what they could to keep us tied down there by hinting that as soon as we were finished with Iraq, it would be time to take down Teheran. We can't get out unless the Maliki government succeeds, and so even though it is led by Shi'as and friendly to Iran, we are funding and supporting it, and trying to do so without empowering Iran, which is, um, impossible. At the same time, we are trying to contain Iranian influence in the region and mollify our increasingly nervous Sunni allies by by selling lots and lots of weapons -- $20 billion worth -- to the delightful government of Saudi Arabia. But guess what? Saudi Arabia is arming -- of course -- the insurgents who are fighting against the Maliki government -- the very same government that we are trying to prop up!
This is what comes of having idiots in charge of our foreign policy.
Personally, I fail to see why we should see our issues with Iran as worth mentioning in the same breath as the Cold War. I'm with Greg Djeredjian on this one:
"I don't know precisely when or how a middle-ranking power like Iran--rivaled in its immediate neighborhood alone by the likes of Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan--has somehow metamorphosed into America's mega-foe thereby presenting us with a full-blown "Cold War II""
And I'd add: it is a country that has the ability to threaten us at all only because we have plunked down large numbers of troops next door to us. Moreover, while it has supported any number of dreadful groups throughout the Middle East, it has never actually attacked another country, and I find the idea that it might attack Israel ludicrous, given Israel's nuclear arsenal.
But if we insist on viewing it as some sort of major threat, we ought to have thought of that before we invaded Iraq. Now we are stuck with an absolutely incoherent policy, in which our various goals are in massive and (as far as I can tell) irresoluble conflict. And besides, to quote IOZ (via American Footprints):
"Don't listen to what they say; look at what they do. In this case, category Say is "prevent a wider regional war" and category Do is "pour billions of dollars worth of arms into the fragile, quarrelsome, precarious neighbors of an escalating civil war ever percolating under an American occupation."