Written by Henry F. Cooper and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, October 17, 2011.
As the United States withdraws its combat forces from Iraq and begins a similar drawdown in Afghanistan, Iran is rapidly broadening its reach and presence in and beyond the region — and its technological prowess in weaponry — to undergird a strategy of global proportions, to threaten Americans at home and abroad as well as our overseas friends and allies. As the United States draws down its presence in the region, Iran is moving to fill the resulting power vacuum. U.S. missile-defense plans and programs need to adapt to the likely consequences, including an increasing threat to the U.S. homeland and broadening Iranian influence in the Middle East.
In his July 2011 quarterly report to Congress, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, concluded that “Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work. . . . It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago.” This is in no small part due to Iran’s growing involvement in the Iraqi conflict — which is likely to grow further as U.S. troops are withdrawn.