Been a long time, might as well post this...
1. Iran can't stand Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Iran would prefer a Shi'a - majority Islamic Republic on its western border.
2. Iran can't topple Iraq on its own: even if defeated militarily, it would trigger massive other problems for Iran, like possible US invasion.
3. The US could invade Iraq and knock Hussein on his backside...
4. Problem: Bill Clinton doesn't want a huge war. He prefers to lob cruise missiles into Bosnia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. Cruise missiles do not a regime change.
5. Solution: Bide time until there's a new president.
6. Better than anticipated! The new president's a nutter! He's totally obsessed with the ideas of the crusading New American Century boys, who advocate regime change in Iraq as one of their top goals! (OK, so I lost credibility with the exclamation points. So be it.)
7. Iran now uses its agent, Ahmed Chalabi, to agitate the neocons about how desperate the folks in Iraq are for a change and how Bush can be the president to do it.
8. September 11 happens and the neocons try and pin it on Hussein. Chalabi feeds more information to help create that impression.
9. America invades Afghanistan and topples the anti-Iranian Taliban. Good riddance, but now for the main show...
10. America invades Iraq and clobbers the country's armed forces.
11. Unrest and outrage directed against American occupiers results - no good deed goes unpunished.
12. America commits to democratic government in Iraq - excellent. Shi'a parties will dominate, and even the Sunni of Iraq would prefer an Islamic Republic.
13. Anticipated result: Iraq becomes an Islamic Republic with a Shi'a majority and overall hostile to US interests in the area, potentially very friendly towards Iran and Iranian interests. Thank-you notes sent to Ahmed Chalabi for stirring the pot so well. Leave the neocons to puzzle over why their high-minded idealism blinded them to Iranian realpolitik.
The US army essentially did the dirty work for Iran and US diplomatic standing took the battering Iran would have endured if it invaded Iraq. The same reason an ideology like Communism failed is why the Neo-Conservative ideology will fail: both became co-opted by realists who saw a means to manipulate the idealism in the leaders of the movement into serving their own ends.
by Dean Webb