As the Obama Administration works to promote its version of socialist democratic rule at home, the Islamic Republic of Iran is looking to expand its power base in the Middle East. Without a doubt, the President Obama's long-time opposition to our efforts in Iraq and his stated intent to lessen our footprint in the region is having an effect: it is signaling to our enemies that we are not serious in our opposition to those who wish to destroy the United State and Israel. Of course, Obama is among those who believe that the U.S. presence in the Middle East is part of the problem, not the solution -- so this should come as no surprise. For years the left's opposition to our presence in Iraq was based principally on the notion that we were making things worse -- an occupying force, rather than an army of liberation -- and that if we would "just leave", the forces of evil that were routinely blowing up children and civilians would retreat back into the shadows. It is the single animating theory of liberal non-interventionism: America's values (liberty and democracy) are no better than any others, we have no business trying to promote it abroad, and the use of force in their defense is never justified.
This kind of world view will lead quickly to a power vacuum where one can least be afforded. From Egypt to Syria, Lebanon to Israel, Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the message being sent is that the United States is in retreat. As Amir Taheri wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal, the Islamic Republic of Iran is preparing actively to fill the void:
Convinced that the Obama administration is preparing to retreat from the Middle East, Iran's Khomeinist regime is intensifying its goal of regional domination. It has targeted six close allies of the U.S.: Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain, Morocco, Kuwait and Jordan, all of which are experiencing economic and/or political crises.
The move of Iran into the vacuum of American isolationism is calculated policy by those who run Iran -- which is trying now to portray the country as a "rising superpower" in the region, with the United States being the "sunset power" in decline, seeking to remove its troops from Iraq while seeking an acceptable exit strategy for Afghanistan. As Taheri notes, the message is "The Americans are going, and we (Iran) are coming".
And why should this not be an effective message -- with it increasingly clear that the U.S. government has been taken over by the Pelosi radicals who reject the notion of America exceptionalism, and an Obama administration that is so clearly in love with the idea of diplomacy? Gone is the Bush-era certainty that American foreign policy stands for the "liberty doctrine" of spreading democracy and freedom -- even it it requires confronting evil with force. In its place now is the nuance the left craves, with talking-heads from the UN, Europe and other multi-lateral institutions trying to find some fictitious "common ground" with a revolutionary regime that wants to remake the world in its image. It's a case of naivete meeting wishful thinking.
Taheri quotes a senior Lebanese political leader as saying "There is this perception that the new U.S. administration is not interested in the democratization strategy". As he notes in the conclusion of his piece:
"That perception only grows as President Obama calls for an "exit strategy" from Afghanistan and Iraq. "Power abhors a vacuum, which the Islamic Republic of Iran is only too happy to fill."