February 13, 2015

‘Cui Bono?’ Iran

Mona Charen: “‘Cui bono?’ Who benefits? It was the question ancient Romans asked when hoping to cut through a fog of possible causes for a problem. As of [Thursday], U.S. Marines were evacuating Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. We’ve seen this movie before: the bonfires of documents, the hammer blows to equipment, the disabling of weapons, the rush to the helicopters. Think Saigon 1973 or Tehran 1979. Only five months ago, President Obama touted his policy toward Yemen as a success: ‘This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen…’ Well. Who benefits? The rebels who took Yemen are Houthis, allies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This makes four Arab nations (the others are Lebanon, Syria and Iraq) that are now controlled or heavily influenced by Iran. Iran also supports Hamas in Gaza. Our eyes are drawn to the pornographic violence of ISIS. After disdaining them as the ‘JV’ team, the president has yielded to public pressure by requesting an authorization for the use of military force, but the document presented is more of an apology note for previous U.S. military actions than a blueprint for war. … [I]t is very hard to read … conclude anything other than that the answer to ‘Cui bono?’ is Iran.”

Michael Barone: “Just as George W. Bush thought Iraqis were yearning for American-style democracy and capitalism, so Obama seems to be assuming that Iran seeks to be an American-style power, prosperous and generous-minded. But everything we know about the Iranian leaders tells us that their goals are sharply different from ours – and remain so even after the election of a president who remembers hearing as a child the call of the muezzin. References to common backgrounds appeal to American voters. But they don’t seem likely to soften the hearts of Iranian dictators.”

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