Opinion (Fred Hill): How Washington gave Tehran the upper hand
Women walk past a mural of Charlie Chaplin in Tehran
ARROWSIC, Maine: The Bush/Cheney build-up against Iran is taking shape. The terrible irony is that there are much more persuasive grounds for a full- scale confrontation, if not necessarily full- fledged war, with Iran than there were against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. And irony of ironies: the ability of the United States to lead a serious campaign against Iran's newly emboldened regime has been undermined significantly by the Bush administration's own failings and lack of strategic vision.
Briefly, five critical mistakes by the White House placed political and ideological aims ahead of the national interest, and left the United States in a weaker position to deal with Iran's growing assertiveness and lack of respect for U.S. power. They are:
Rejecting the traditional U.S. role as an honest broker in the peace process.
Never developing a serious energy policy (so that an economically challenged Iran has enriched itself with high oil prices.
Attacking Iraq without major allies and a plan.
Failing to commit sufficient troops to the post-war phase to bring stability to Iraq.
Rejecting various opportunities to engage Iran's leadership in quiet, possibly constructive dialogue.
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