Rumsfeld Warns Iran and Syria
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had Iran and Syria exactly where they want him. he alleged that Syria accepted Baath escapees from Iraq during the war last spring, and that Iran is “harboring” al-Qaeda and allowing its men to slip through Iraq into Iran.
I personally doubt that Iran is “harboring” al-Qaeda if by that is meant that Iran allows them freedom of movement and lets them launch operations from its soil. The Iranians admit that they have some al-Qaeda personnel in captivity; but then so does the US, at Guantanamo.
The main point is that Rumsfeld can’t do anything about Syria or Iran. Half of his active duty military is tied down in Iraq battling a guerrilla insurgency that killed 300 Iraqis last month alone. That is 3600 a year if we extrapolate it out, or something similar to the entire loss of life in Northern Ireland 1969-2001 during the war there!
Syria and Iran know very well that Rumsfeld can’t move against them. The US wouldn’t dare act publicly against Iran if there was a chance that might anger the Shiite leaders of Iraq and bring hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets. The US needs the Shiites cooperative and quiet, and attacking Iran openly just won’t achieve that aim. Likewise, the US can’t attack Hizbullah in Lebanon (the press mysteriously spells the name in Persian as Hezbollah, but there is no short “e” or long “o” sound in Arabic). That might also alienate the Iraqi Shiites. Rumsfeld can talk belligerently, but he’s stuck in Iraq and genuinely needs Iran and Syria’s cooperation. We all know he can’t get it with threats. So why bother, except that it may make him feel good.