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9 Oct 02. As debate in Washington continues about whether the United States should go to war with Iraq, a new landpower essay from the Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare turns attention toward Iraq’s eastern neighbor, Iran.

“Iran: Next in the Crosshairs?” is an in-depth analysis of Iran’s political and military interests in the Middle East today, and how these interests influence American foreign policy toward the country. Maj. Gen. Edward Atkeson, an ILW senior fellow, and Douglas Bush, at the time a member of ILW’s national security staff, co-authored the essay.

Labeled by President Bush as an “axis of evil” nation along with Iraq and North Korea due to their sponsorship of terrorist groups and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, America’s Iranian policy has been one of “containment” designed to minimize the country’s political, economic and military strengths.

The U.S. can maintain this current containment policy, the essay says, or pursue two other more aggressive options.

A policy of “active engagement” would require the U.S. military to conduct “selective military strikes” against high value Iranian military targets including missile sites and weapon of mass destruction facilities. American political and economic pressures aimed at toppling Iran’s Islamic regime would also be applied.

A third policy, “contain and engage,” forces the U.S. and Iran to identify issues where “dialogue aimed at achieving agreements, might be possible.” At the same time, policies of containment would stay in effect over issues both parties are far from agreement.

Regardless of what option the United States chooses, the essay says, a
“substantial” presence of U.S. military forces will be required in the Gulf region and in Central Asia “for the foreseeable future.”

The essay is available on the AUSA website www.ausa.org. Click on the
Institute of Land Warfare and it is available under publications. The
essay series is designed to stimulate discussion on aspects of national
security. The content represents the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily the position of the Association of the United States Army.

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