The U.S. Stands Poised to Continue a Disastrous Strategy of Empowering Iran and Abandoning Its Allies

In a comprehensive analysis, Tony Badran and Michael Doran argue that the Biden administration’s Middle East policy aims to reinforce and to build upon that of Barack Obama, which they term “the realignment.” As Doran explained in a 2015 essay for Mosaic, the Obama White House’s goal was to promote the interests of Iran, against those of Israel and Saudi Arabia—America’s traditional allies—in order to bring “balance” to the Middle East. This approach is bound to fail, as indeed the events of the last few years have already proved:

The doctrine of realignment builds on the erroneous assumption that Iran is a status-quo power, one that shares a number of major interests with the United States. According to this doctrine, conservative Americans and supporters of Israel fixate on Iran’s ideology—which is steeped in bigotry toward non-Muslims in general, and which advertises its annihilationist aspirations toward the Jewish state in particular—but it is not useful as a practical guide to Tehran’s behavior.

The United States, so the thinking goes, [can, through rapprochement with Iran], finally remove itself from the war footing that traditional allies, with their anti-Iran agenda, have forced on it. Thereafter, diplomatic engagement with Iran will be the primary tool needed to maintain regional stability.

The realignment rests on, to put it mildly, a hollow theory. It misstates the nature of the Islamic Republic and the scope of its ambitions. A regime that has led “Death to America” chants for the last 40 years is an inveterately revisionist regime. The Islamic Republic sees itself as a global power, the leader of the Muslim world, and it covets hegemony over the Persian Gulf—indeed, the entire Middle East. But the only instrument it has ever had to achieve its objectives is regional subversion.

Iran’s militia network and nuclear program have made it strong enough to be a major factor in every troubled corner of the Middle East, but not strong enough to build an alternative order. Herein lies a curious contradiction in Khamenei’s project. Iran cannot actually hold or stabilize contested areas without a helpful American posture.

This entire strategy, moreover, aligns neatly with left-wing “cosmology.”

It equates a policy of containing Iran with a path to endless war, and transforms a policy of accommodating Iran into the path to peace. It reduces the complexities of the Middle East to a Manichean morality tale that pits the progressives against their mythological foes—evangelical Christians, “neoconservatives,” and Zionists. The realignment depicts these foes as co-conspirators with the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, plotting to keep America mired in the Middle East.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Joseph Biden, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin