So Iran wins, in an ironic echo of Noam Chomsky's modest proposal that if we really wanted to liberate the Iraqis, we should "encourage Iran to invade Iraq." (The Bushies surely get this on some level. They must be very pleased with themselves, watching how Iran, shocked and awed by American hard power, has timorously renounced its nuclear ambitions upon seeing what happened to Iraq when it produced and stockpiled WMDs. )
Of all the unforeseen consequences in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the most worrying is the war’s unbidden gainer: Iran. With its 180 million people and its all-but-open border with Iraq, Iran is now the region’s likely major power. The spread of jihadist turbulence through much of the Islamic world, from Indonesia to Bangladesh, from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, has given the ayatollahs of Iran a strong strategic hand. Their authoritarian rule has prevailed at home, as their erstwhile challengers have lost control of Parliament and the re-form-minded president Mohammad Khatami is nearing the end of his constitutional second term. Abroad, as the spiritual homeland of the Shiite wing of Islam, Iran can speak for minority Shiites throughout the region, and in Iraq can plausibly expect a Shiite majority finally to attain power. American neoconservatives who foresaw the emergence of a stable, secular democracy in Iraq now face the likely reality of an elected Iraqi theocracy, tied by faith to that other charter member of the “axis of evil,” Iran.
In an in-depth report (September 4), the Economist, a pro-war British weekly finds that Tehran’s bravado has been heightened by the windfall of soaring oil prices (another byproduct of Operation Iraqi Freedom): “As the second-biggest exporter in OPEC, Iran has benefited hugely from the high oil prices of the past five years, with GDP growing at about 6 percent a year. The boom could hardly have been better timed. Every year since 2000, the labour market has had to accommodate some 1 million first-time job seekers. The government’s response has been to prop up loss-making factories, launch infrastructrure projects and dole out cash to private companies that hire workers. In this way, much oil wealth has been frittered away, but the spectre of mass unemployment has receded.”
Our greatest worry now must be that the Bushies will see fit to use the political capital gained in their brilliant success in Iraq as the basis for proving their manhood by pushing onward to Tehran.
BTW, the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 offered this definition of "Doh!":
Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned or that one has just said or done something foolish. Also implying that another person has said or done something foolish.Uh, yeah...