Lee Smith’s piece, “The Shia Problem,” is important. Smith organizes a big-picture look at the Middle East around an emerging, region-wide Sunni-Shia civil war. (A prospect alluded to at the Gates hearing.) Our real interests in that civil war are on the Sunni side, which is a big reason why a deal with Iran is probably a bad idea. Our need to stay neutral between warring factions in Iraq has disguised what is already a budding U.S. regional alignment with the Sunni against the Shia. So if Iraq goes all the way south, we may find ourselves aligned with one side in a regional battle royale.
It seems to me that the big problem over the long term is the one we already know about–nukes. An Iranian-Shia bomb will give rise to balancing Sunni bombs. And while that could create the potential for deterrence that might halt open regional war, it also means a lot of nuclear weapons floating around an unstable region filled with terrorists. In any case, this Lee Smith piece is a must read….Ah, and here’s yet another piece on the possibility of a post-Iraq Sunni-Shia civil war, this one from Terence Jeffrey.