Stephen Kinzer’s June 22 column “Iraq delivers bloody lesson on blowback” overlooks the most dangerous likely consequence from his proposal that the United States step back and let Iraq resolve its current political conflagration. Citing a host of ill-conceived US interventions, Kinzer suggests that if the Iraqis can “draw on Shiite military power in neighboring Iran and beyond, their position is strong.”
Unfortunately, Kinzer ignores the almost certain reaction of Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies to an expansion of Iranian power in the region. Ultimately, the conflict in Iraq, like many other conflicts in the region, seems to be a proxy for a much larger and far more ominous clash between the Sunni nations of the Arabian peninsula and the Shiite nation of Iran.
A conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran could well turn out to be the mother of all blowbacks — one that would unquestionably threaten the security and stability of the United States, Europe, and virtually every other region of the world.
A war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, ignited by the tinderbox that is Iraq, could well put history on a course for which no nation in the world is prepared.