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Posted at 01:22 PM ET, 10/24/2011

Not easy to persuade the mullahs we are serious

The Wall Street Journal reports: “President Barack Obama’s announcement that all U.S. combat troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year has provoked diametrically opposed reaction among the political factions of the Iraqi government, reflecting deep divisions over the country’s future at a tumultuous period for the entire region.” Already Iran’s ally is tossing threats around: “Iranian-backed Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who controls a sizable bloc in Parliament and half a dozen ministries in the current government, issued a fresh threat against the U.S. on Sunday, warning Washington that his militiamen would target any oversized presence at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad designed as he said to compensate for the full military withdrawal and retain influence in Iraq.”

We have also unnerved our allies, who can see our lack of attention to the fragile Iraqi government and our unwillingness to counter Iran’s influence. So we dispatch an official to assure our allies that despite all appearances and the removal of all our troops we really are serious about checking Iranian aggression:

The U.S. has dispatched its point man on economic sanctions to European capitals in an effort to increase pressure on Iran, amid new fears Tehran could expand its regional influence in the wake of America’s troop withdrawal from Iraq.
The visit by U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen, aimed at winning support for tough measures on Tehran’s central bank, and Iranian airlines and port companies, was being planned even before Friday’s announcement by President Barack Obama that he would withdraw all American troops from Iraq by year’s end

But actions in this case are what matters. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can issue idle threats, warning Iran not to “miscalculate” our devotion to the region, but perhaps it is the Obama team that has once again miscalculated.

This was precisely the reaction that critics of the complete troop withdrawal anticipated. Unlike the president, the legions of conservative critics understand that American influence is perceived on the decline in the region. Our allies are nervous; our foes are indifferent to our rhetoric. Whether on the Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” or on the lethargic response to Bashar al-Assad’s war on his own people, Obama’s foreign policy (distancing from friends, trying to ingratiate ourselves with enemies, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and Iraq regardless of the strategic consequences) sends an unmistakable message.

By  |  01:22 PM ET, 10/24/2011

Categories:  Iran, Iraq

 
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