Ten years ago on September 11, a group of Islamist fundamentalists killed nearly 3000 Americans in several terrorist attacks. A few weeks later, Bush administration started secret dealing with the Iranian regime, the godfather of Islamic fundamentalism, to invade Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
As a result, the non-Islamist Iraqi regime was removed and the country was handed over to the Mullahs' Islamist proxies like muqtada al-sadr, Nouri al-Maliki and Al-Hakim gangs. In the following eight years, the number of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq by these fundamentalists have largely exceeded those killed on 9/11.
If the political consequences of this invasion, including Iran's greater influence in the region and the rise of Hamas and Hezbollah are also taken into account, then, we could get a better understanding of George Bush's blunder.
The US strategic mistake to invade Iraq was rooted in deep illusions about the nature and intentions of the Iranian regime. Apparently, Bush believed that Iranian dictators and US had common interests in a post-Saddam Iraq and therefore, pre-invasion arrangements and agreements with Tehran would suffice to preserve those mutual interests.
Obviously, those pre-agreements are not known to the public and we cannot measure the extent of US naiveté toward Tehran. But there is however one episode that could show how the US was tricked and fooled by the Mullahs. Ahmad Chalabi who was presented by the White House as a poster child of Iraqi people that justified the US invasion of his country, proved to be an Iranian agent.
The US naiveté toward Iran did not stop with Bush administration as Obama made a similar mistake. In 2009, while millions of Iranians poured into the streets and challenged the Mullahs' rule, Obama refrained from supporting the Iranian people because like his predecessor, he invested in vain negotiations with the regime to reach an illusionary deal over nuclear issue and probably a "grand bargain" with the Iranian dictators.
Alas, this American naiveté has not been limited to Obama and Bush. Almost all previous administrations maintained an illusionary view of the Iranian regime. In September 2008, the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who has been personally involved in dealing with Iran from the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, gave a speech in Washington and masterfully defined the dominant aspect of US policy toward Iran in the past three decades: (official transcript)
“I have been involved in the search for the elusive Iranian moderate for 30 years.(Laughter.)... Every administration since 1979 has reached out to the Iranians in one way or another and all have failed.Some have gotten into deep trouble associated with their failures, but the reality is the Iranian leadership has been consistently unyielding over a very long period of time in response to repeated overtures from the United States about having a different and better kind of relationship.”
Are the US governments so inept that they cannot even learn from repeated mistakes? Are the ayatollahs so shrewd that they have outsmarted the White House for more than thirty years?
Another explanation could be envisaged; that the US policy toward Iran has been shaped by special interest groups, mainly in oil sector that disregard US national security interests and push consecutive administrations to pursue the same failed policy.In a report titled "The Pro-engagement Lobby and US Failure with Iran", these interest groups and their contribution to three decades of US confusion toward Tehran have been examined briefly.
The 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the open wound of invading Iraq provides new opportunity to pose serious questions about the cost of US failure toward the Mullahs.