Smart Power in Action: US and Iran on same side in Libya

Posted by: Phineas on August 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm

**Posted by Phineas

Well, Obama did promise to offer an “open hand” to Iran to achieve a new era of more cooperation and less confrontation. But, somehow, I don’t think even the striped-pants set at the State Department thought that meant cooperating to overthrow another government:

Iran “discreetly” provided humanitarian aid to Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli, Jam-e-Jam newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday as saying.

“We were in touch with many of the rebel groups in Libya before the fall of (Moamer) Kadhafi, and discreetly dispatched three or four food and medical consignments to Benghazi,” Salehi told the daily.

“The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping,” he added.

And so, for the price of some food and medicine (1), we and NATO did Iran a favor by removing a rival for influence in the Middle East and giving them easy access to eastern Libya and the Benghazi area, a region well-known as a fertile recruiting ground for Al Qaeda and other Islamic radical groups. (2)

That’s “Smart Power” for you. Real smart.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Daffy Qaddafi wasn’t a bad man — far from it, and I hope the Libyans catch him and string him up. But, from the point of view of American interests, there was no point to this war. Qaddafi had given up his nuclear program in the wake of our liberation of Iraq, there was intelligence cooperation against Al Qaeda, and he had largely stopped sponsoring terrorism. In other words, he had been tamed, and there was no pressing reason to go after him.

On the other hand, in Syria, where we have a great opportunity to weaken or even overthrow one of the key clients of our avowed enemy, Iran, an event that would greatly weaken the Mullah’s power in the region and genuinely serve our strategic interests, for weeks we did… effectively nothing. We clucked our tongues and wagged our fingers, even called the dictator a “reformer,” while the Assad regime, with the assistance and advice of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, slaughters thousands.

If that’s “smart power,” I’d hate to see what their idea of “dumb” is.

via Bryan Preston

LINKS: More from my friend Michael Ledeen, who argues that this is a big regional war with Iran at the center (which the Obama administration may be finally and belatedly starting to grasp), and then draws some lessons from Libya.

Footnotes:
(1) And if you believe the “humanitarian aid” was nothing but rice and bandages and the Iranians accompanying it weren’t Iranian Revolutionary Guards, I have just the bridge to sell you.
(2) Don’t fall for the “Sunnis and Shiites won’t cooperate” myth. Yes, they have a bloody internecine history, but Iran and Sunni radical groups are more than happy to cooperate to strike at us.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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One Response to “Smart Power in Action: US and Iran on same side in Libya”

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  1. james says:

    If Colonel Gaddafi was such a bad man why did he release former Guantanamo prisoners on return to Libya? Gadaffi had changed over the years probably not enough. These regions of the globe can put tribe before country and that goes for the rest of Africa – horses for courses. If he was such a bad man why was housing subsidised or free, Libyans who got married were given a large sum of money. At the time of Nato attacks the country was full of immigrants many of whom were from the so-called free world. The journalism over Libya has been the most one dimensional and biased I’ve ever witnessed. David Cameron stops us protesting for 30 days (indication of fear) and no-one says a word except Iran and Colonel Gaddafi who asked Cameron to step down.
    Iran can do what it likes because the US does, it’s that simple. Gaddafi proposed making the west pay for oil in gold as the only surety of receiving fair sums it’s a shame he didn’t suceed other Cameron and the other morons in Parliament would have had more than the recession to worry about. The US was warned before attacking Iraq that the Shiites and therefore Iran would benefit but Bush went ahead anyway. Bush is the prime candidate for the title of bad leader. All along Gaddafi had been highlighting Islamic influence but he called anything from delusional to mad. Clearly, Gaddafi was not perfect but very few leaders are.