Notwithstanding President Biden’s heartfelt speech to the nation on Oct. 19, his administration — absent a change in policy toward Iran — is walking into a regional conflict of its own making. At every turn, the Biden White House has refused to rethink the folly of its Middle East policy and persistently engaged and aggrandized Iran. In return, Tehran will attack, setting off a conflagration that has high odds of American involvement.
The Biden team chose a fatuous dream. It is likely to have war instead.
Hamas, as is now clear, did not act alone. The terrorist group’s brutal attack on Oct. 7 was the opening move in a broader plan to reshape the Middle East. Most Western policymakers, left and right, have operated under the illusion that a Middle Eastern status quo exists.
On the left, the Obama administration sought to remake the status quo, reducing American reliance on its traditional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and growing closer to Iran. By playing all three actors off against each other, Washington imagined it could assume a high-handed, disengaged policy. If all went well, the theory went, the U.S. could rid itself of an odious region with a decade of deft diplomacy.
All did not go well. The Trump administration’s embrace of Israel spoiled the plot, for one. For another, even after the Biden administration’s inauguration — and its immediate attempt to reengage with Iran — the Islamic Republic had no desire to respond. Iran is a revolutionary regime akin to the Soviet Union or Napoleonic France, bent on leading the Islamic world as a global strategic force, with the changeless objective of destroying Israel and displacing American power in the Middle East.
Hamas has been a full-fledged “Axis of Resistance” member for three years. That axis — Iran’s term for its regional proxy network that includes Lebanese Hezbollah, the Assad regime, Iraq’s various Shia militias, and the Yemeni Houthis — is the Islamic Republic’s greatest strength. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) plans, trains, finances and executes operations with the axis, whose members field lethal asymmetrical capabilities with their enormous rocket arsenals.
The Biden administration’s engagement with Iran dovetailed with its outreach to Hamas. In the American view, Hamas was a reasonable if brutal pseudo-state more interested in self-preservation than war, while Iran was far more interested in its economic well-being than a clash with Israel.
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Seth Cropsey is the founder and president of Yorktown Institue.