"The scale of the US miscalculation is striking. Before the Iraq war began, its neo-conservative architects argued that conferring power on Iraq’s Shi’ites would serve to undermine Iran because Iraq’s Shi’ites, controlling the faith’s two holiest cities, would, in the words of then deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, be "an independent source of authority for the Shi’ite religion emerging in a country that is democratic and pro-Western". Further, they argued, Iran could never dominate Iraq, because the Iraqi Shi’ites are Arabs and the Iranian Shi’ites Persian. It was a theory that, unfortunately, had no connection to reality.
Iran’s bond with the Iraqi Shi’ites goes far beyond the support Iran gave Shi’ite leaders in their struggle with Saddam. Decades of oppression have made their religious identity more important to Iraqi Shi’ites than their Arab ethnic identity. (Also, many Iraqi Shi’ites have Turkoman, Persian or Kurdish ancestors.) While Sunnis identify with the Arab world, Iraqi Shi’ites identify with the Shi’ite world, and for many this means Iran." Peer Galbraith
Galbraith’s article on Iran was originally published in the New York Review of Books and then here in the Asia Times. It is so important that it is worth reproducing here for discussion.
There is much that could be argued with in the aricle, but, in the main it seems to capture the situation well.
IMO, the US has refused to accept the idea of sharing power in the Middle East with the Iranians. That lies at the heart of our problem with them. All other issues are more symptom than anything else. As Galbraith observes we have ignored efforts on their part to draw us into a serious discussion of what are really bi-lateral issues.
We talk about Iran being a strategic threat (life-threatening to the nation) to the United States. This is nonsense. Unless the Shihab series of guided missile developments results in an ICBM with a six-thousand mile range fitted with warheads of city destroying yields, Iran will never be an existential threat to the US.
If it were not for the undeniable fact that an Iran equipped with their present Shihab 3 and nuclear warheads would be an existential threat to Israel, our concern over their future nuclear weapons would be no greater than our present concern over Pakistan’s weapons. pl