FGF E-Package
Observations on the Empire
September 30, 2009

Afghanistan: Back Door to War on Iran
by Stephen J. Sniegoski

ADELPHI, MARYLAND — The Obama administration has made Afghanistan the focus of its foreign policy, significantly escalating the war effort. Obama’s motive for expanding the war in Afghanistan seems to be a desire to project a strong image as a leader willing to use military force. He combines this desire with the belief that war in Afghanistan is much safer than a war with Iran, which is the primary target of Israel and its lobby.

Other factors also shape Obama’s Afghanistan policy. The security situation has deteriorated, and the U. S. military leaders on the scene do not want to lose a war. General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, has indicated that thousands more troops are needed to defeat the insurgents. On the other hand, many members of the American traditional foreign policy establishment, such as Zbignew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, are wary of the destabilizing consequences of an escalating war in Afghanistan.

The neoconservatives are the major domestic supporters of an accelerated war in Afghanistan. The neoconservatives, who are characterized by a pro-Israel proclivity, played the major role in influencing President George W. Bush to attack Iraq in 2003, which I discuss in my recent book, The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel. They recently circulated a letter to President Obama in support of his Afghanistan policy. Signatories include such neoconservative stalwarts as the following:

• Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s major foreign policy advisor
• John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary
• Gary Schmitt, former executive director of the über-interventionist Project for the New American Century (PNAC)
• Fred Kagan, architect of the surge in Iraq
• Robert Kagan, cofounder of PNAC
• Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard
• Max Boot, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard
• Dan Senor, former Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq spokesman
• Eliot A. Cohen, the Johns Hopkins University professor who coined the term “World War IV” for the “War on Terror” and served as counselor to the United States Department of State under Secretary Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009
• Eric Edelman, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 2005 to2009
• John Hannah, senior fellow at the Institute for Near East Policy and former national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2005 to 2009
• Joshua Muravchik, former resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

One may wonder why the neoconservatives are so enthusiastic about Obama’s focus on Afghanistan since that country has not been one of their primary concerns. After the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, they pushed for an immediate attack on Iraq instead. They lost this fight temporarily, but they were soon able to divert the U.S. war from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Since the occupation of Iraq, the neoconservatives have targeted Iran. Iran is seen as Israel’s major enemy — even, allegedly, a threat to Israel’s very existence. So might not Obama’s revitalized war policy in Afghanistan divert attention from the issue of Iran? There seem to be two fundamental reasons — one defensive and the other offensive — that explain the neoconservatives support for an expanded war in Afghanistan, which they believe will facilitate their broader Middle East war agenda.

If the U.S. were to abandon a military solution in Afghanistan, it probably would, as an alternative, seek to bring about stability in that beleaguered country through diplomacy. To be effective, that approach would involve broadening Iran’s role in Afghanistan. If Iran were working to bring about stability in Afghanistan, it would be virtually impossible for the U.S. to treat it as an enemy. Moreover, abandonment of the war in Afghanistan could likely begin a chain reaction that would end American involvement in the entire Middle East/Central Asian region. Thus, the neoconservatives’ entire effort to reconfigure the region would be undermined.

In an offensive manner, an accelerated war in Afghanistan could provide a back door to initiating war with Iran. As the American military became bogged down in a no-win war in Afghanistan, Iran could provide a convenient scapegoat. One can envision the neoconservatives trumpeting allegations that American problems in Afghanistan are caused by covert Iranian support for the Taliban insurgents — and that the only way to an American victory in Afghanistan would be by eliminating the Taliban’s Iranian sponsors. Various intelligence reports citing evidence of Iranian weapons and advisors in Afghanistan would be highlighted in the media. As it became more apparent that the American military was unable to pacify Afghanistan, U.S. military commanders would have a vested interest in blaming their failure on the alleged involvement of the Iranians.

Moreover, a stepped-up war in Afghanistan can provide the physical opportunity to start a war on Iran. In pursuit of insurgents, American troops could enter Iranian border regions, leading to incidents that would usher in all-out war. In short, the U.S. could be involved in a war with Iran without Obama actually intending to bring about such a conflagration. It would simply be the inexorable result of the expanded war in Afghanistan.

Observations on the Empire archives

This column is copyright © 2009 by Stephan J. Sniegoski. All rights reserved. Editors may post or print this column if attribution is given to the author.

Stephen Sniegoski is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The N eoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel (2008).

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

To sponsor the FGF E-Package, please send a tax-deductible donation to the:
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
Vienna,VA 22183
or donate online.

© 2009 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation