Stopping Iran's Nuclear Program Won't Stabilize the Mideast
Iran is not the only source of instability in the Middle East.
In the course of yet-another attack on Chuck Hagel, Jonathan Tobin writes that "stopping the Islamist regime in Iran is the prerequisite for stability in the region."
This is a common refrain among those who want to take more aggressive action against Iran. And it's completely wrong. In fact, it's an ironic argument coming from Tobin since he (rightly) dismisses the naive "linkage" argument when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian peace (i.e. the argument that said peace is the key to ensuring Mideast stability).
First, Iran is not the only, or even the worst, source of instability in the region. Gulf state efforts at containing Iran's influence are fomenting a far greater source of instability in the form of Sunni jihadists. Moreover, U.S. support for the repression of its allies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the U.S. covert war in Yemen are also destabilizing the region. Throw in centuries-old sectarian fault lines, battles over water resources, ethnic separatism and map lines drawn by clueless colonial powers and it's painfully obvious that there are no shortage of powder kegs in the Middle East.
Iran and its support for militant proxies no doubt plays a role in stirring this already turbulent stew, but it's naive at best to think that merely "stopping" them (however that's done) would be sufficient to calm things down.