Unintended consequences

A few fascinating paragraphs from a New Atlanticist piece on Qatar, the “new Dubai.”

The emir and his government chief, strategic thinker Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, who is both prime minister and foreign minister, and the national security staff see all their many accomplishments in dire peril should Israel decide to bomb Iran. From Iran’s nearest missile batteries to Qatar’s LNG port at Ras Laffan is only 100 miles.

“Two missiles on LNG loading docks as a supertanker takes on a full load,” said one ranking Western diplomat and Qatar “is out of business.” So Qatar endeavors to maintain “cordial” relations with what is perceived to be a military regime now in power in Tehran. Its Northfield cornucopia abuts, even overlaps, with Iran’s claim.

— de Borchgrave, Arnaud.  “Is Qatar the New Dubai?New Atlanticist, 5 March 2010.

This holds true for most Persian Gulf nations, their core economic assets are within easy reach of Iranian military forces.  Unless America is prepared to deploy a considerable number of assets to defend allied economies up and down the Gulf, this is one reason why Israeli air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities are simply never going to happen.

The other interesting angle is also one of unintended consequences:

There was also an emerging consensus that Iran had welcomed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and that Iranian officials in the Gulf were privately rooting for George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004. One Iranian official was quoted as saying, “America got rid of our worst enemy and turned Iraq over to Iranian influence.”

On balance, I believe getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a net positive, for both American and Iraqi peoples.  Getting rid of Saddam so that Iran would emerge as the dominant regional power was probably not what the Bush Administration (nor its opponents) ever had in mind, though.

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