April 5, 2007

CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING:

Tehran Likely to Pay Long-Term Price (Robin Wright, 4/05/07, Washington Post)

At a time when five members of its Revolutionary Guard Corps are being detained by the United States in Iraq, Iran's most elite military unit also proved that it can play the tit-for-tat game, experts said. The British were seized by the Guard's naval unit. "The Revolutionary Guards wanted to send a signal to the U.S. and U.K. that 'if you mess with us, we'll mess with you. We know where you're vulnerable,' " said Riedel, who believes there is a link between the two cases.

The U.S. military detained the five during a raid in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on Jan. 11. Iran had expected their release three days before the British were detained. Although U.S. and British officials deny any deal or quid pro quo for the 15 Britons, the United States allowed the Iranians to be visited for the first time by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and is considering permitting Iran to have consular access to them, U.S. officials said.

Yet Iran is also likely to pay a long-term price for the detention drama, again appearing to undertake rogue actions in violation of international law, experts and officials said. In the end, Iran recognized that the crisis was beginning to exact a cost, as it came under pressure even from allies and other Islamic countries, officials and experts said. Even Syria urged Iran to release the Britons, Syrian and U.S. sources said.

"They are so consumed with short-term issues -- how to undermine the West and how to gain leverage -- at the expense of long-term strategy. They have undermined themselves," said Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "They're playing the immediate moves of checkers and not the long-term strategy of a chess game. In the long term, it undermines their ability to attract foreign investment and have good relations" with the outside world.

Tehran was also unable to rally significant public support for another long-term showdown like the 1979-1981 hostage ordeal involving 52 American diplomats, experts added. "There was no nationalist bounce out of this," said Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "All the usual people you'd expect to be frothing at the mouth simply weren't."


Interesting how this final section of her piece refutes nearly all she's said previously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2007 12:28 PM
Comments

"They are so consumed with short-term issues... at the expense of long-term strategy."

The definition of "death spiral."

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at April 5, 2007 1:30 PM

Perhaps a bit of weariness has set in, like most perpetual revolutions engender. (The excessive enthusiasm gets to be a bit irritating after twenty years - think of that person at work who is always perky Monday morning, and how your hands insticntively clench at that bright and cheery pre-coffee greeting...) and perhaps other people were considering that US military power is a heck of a lot closer to Iran's western frontier than it was in 2000 or 1979.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 7:52 AM

Perhaps a bit of weariness has set in, like most perpetual revolutions engender. (The excessive enthusiasm gets to be a bit irritating after twenty years - think of that person at work who is always perky Monday morning, and how your hands insticntively clench at that bright and cheery pre-coffee greeting...) and perhaps other people were considering that US military power is a heck of a lot closer to Iran's western frontier than it was in 2000 or 1979.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 6, 2007 7:54 AM
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