The American Interest

Rumors of War Receding

This column was written on Orthodox Easter, but the reminder that Christ is risen is not the only reason for its upbeat tone.  There is good news on several foreign fronts, making a major new war less likely today than at any time since the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq was announced last October.

Back then, it was widely assumed that the pullout from Iraq was a necessary prelude to military intervention against Iran.  Leaving reduced American forces in Iraq would have exposed them to attacks by an enraged Shi’ite majority once Iran was attacked.  Even more importantly, relinquishing American responsibility for the defense of Iraq’s airspace would pave the way for an Israeli air strike against Iranian targets as the first stage of the operation, which would involve the United States at a later point.  The flight path from Israel to Iran’s Natanz Nuclear Facility goes some 1,100 miles across Jordan and Iraq.  By leaving Iraq to the Iraqis Washington was establishing the grounds for plausible deniability of complicity in the Israeli operation.

President Barack Obama’s decision on December 31, 2011, to apply sanctions against any institution dealing with Iran’s central bank made it effectively impossible for most countries to buy Iranian crude oil.  The European Union followed with its own sanctions only weeks later. ...

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