Iran: Remaining in context with the War on Terrorism

Eric Lanser

I’ve encountered many headlines, articles, and comments about the progress of the War on Terrorism that reveal a dropping of the context. For instance, headlines screamed for days about the looting going on in Baghdad early in the war. The fact that small-time hooligans were looting stores in Baghdad hardly warrants a headline when an oppressive regime dedicated to the systematic looting of an entire nation was just decimated with historical speed and military precision.

However, the blame only partially rests on journalists. The biggest practitioner of failing to keep the proper context in the War on Terrorism is President Bush himself.

The purpose of our military is not to liberate every country subject to dictatorship, but to defend the U.S. This is the necessary context for the War on Terrorism. America’s military is not cannon fodder to be sacrificed for “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” but an instrument to ensure the success of “Operation American Security.”

Now, by any rational standard, the case for taking action against Iraq was strong. It was a dictatorship with a history of hostility toward the U.S. and our allies. It was pursuing nuclear weapons and was already in possession of biological and chemical weapons, in violation of the treaty that ended our last war with them.

However, given that America’s military might is much more desperately needed elsewhere, Iraq was a ridiculous target. Not only does attacking Iraq not address our biggest military threats (such as North Korea, which brazenly threatens to sell nuclear weapons to terrorists), but it ignores America’s ideological enemy, militant Islam. Iran, not Iraq, is the clearest danger to America. Iran is a theocracy which has been the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism since its birth. And, in case it wasn’t dangerous enough, Iran is also developing nuclear weapons.

You can hardly blame journalists for forgetting that we are not in Iraq to make sure Iraqis have enough power and food and freedom, when President Bush doesn’t seem to remember this himself.

Instead of Liberia or Iraq, the U.S. military should be protecting America by destroying terrorism in its home base, Iran.