This past week marked a monumental step for the United States’ presence in the Middle East. From an airport in Baghdad, the closing ceremonies of the U.S. war in Iraq were held. There was no celebration, just a simple ceremony and then it was over. Just a few hundred miles away, however, a new chapter opened. A top secret U.S. drone, called the RQ-170, was captured nearly 140 miles into Iran. Iranian officials were not pleased about the incident and have demanded an apology from President Obama before they are willing to return the highly valuable piece of military equipment. With troops finally exiting Iraq, but tensions rising in Iran, the question must be asked: Is the United States really done in the Middle East? And if not, what does the future hold?
The future is only as bright as the past for U.S.-Iran relations. Our history has been spotted with conflict that never ends on a good note. The Bush administration caused several disputes in Iran including the failed “Grand Bargain” in 2003, then several sanctions opposing Iran’s nuclear plan in 2006, and a raid of the Iranian Consulate General in 2007. President Obama has also seen his fair share of quarrels with Iran. The leading indicator of these is the possibility of ranking al-Qaeda members being smuggled into Iran. This is in direct breach of a UN treaty and would be cause for serious intervention from the U.S. because the U.S. has a lot to lose in Iran. Conflicts could quickly escalate and the war could even turn nuclear. Obama has promised to stop at nothing to protect the American people. That is why I believe an Iranian occupation is just around the corner for the U.S.
There are several factors that would affect the U.S. occupation of Iran. First and foremost, experience. We have just spent eight of the toughest years our troops have ever seen occupying Iraq. Things did not go smoothly. Thousands of lives, millions of dollars, and priceless months were spent trying to solve a seemingly unsolvable issue. The U.S. troops now have the benefit of experience should they invade Iran. We have to realize that we cannot change the belief system or culture of a country. If we are going into Iran to protect our own freedoms and to be of service, then so be it. But if we invade with the idea that we are going to “fix” the country, as we thought with Iraq, we are kidding ourselves. Democracy comes from within, it cannot be forced. If the Iranian people want to change something, they will change something. They do not need the Americans to do it for them.
The other significant factor in the idea of occupy Iran is the nature of the citizens. In Iraq, the U.S. was not only protecting its own troops from Iraqis, we were protecting Iraqis from Iraqis. The conflict between the factions of Islam was so tense that a civil war could have broken out on any given day. While there are still insurgent rebel groups inIran, nearly 90% of the population belongs to the Shia faction of Islam. The attitude of the citizens in Iran is unmistakably more unified than the Iraqi attitude was. This fact could work for or against the U.S. occupation of Iran. If that percentage of the citizens is backing the U.S. and cooperating with U.S. operations, the occupation would be simple. With that amount of the population opposing U.S. operations, the occupation would cost more money, more lives, and more time that the U.S. does not have. The Obama administration and/or a new 2012 U.S. president have to seriously consider the reaction of the Iranian people if the U.S. decides to invade. If we are met with resistance, the outcome will be costly.
Finally the United States has to consider the effect of an Iran invasion on neighboring countries. Several countries are encouraging the U.S. to occupy Iran, but why? Do these countries have something to gain from Iran? Or do they simply want to exploit the U.S. as an overbearing powerhouse in order to unify more Middle Eastern countries against us? These questions must be addressed carefully. With the amount of nuclear weapons in existence in the Middle East, the situation is very delicate. Without extreme precaution on the part of the U.S., World War Three could be the next phase. In order to avoid this, I think it best that the U.S. just stay out. If Iran wants help, they will ask for it. If they want to sever ties with the U.S., it will be their loss. The bottom line is that our country cannot afford to have another eight years like the eight years we just had in Iraq. That is why I say, stay out of Iran.