It's a familiar scene -- the carnage, today in Beirut, following a terrorist bombing attack on a target -- an embassy -- that should be off-limits to this kind of strike. Notwithstanding the likelihood that the embassy was being used to further Iranian military adventures and what would be considered espionage, it's a shock to the system to see this indiscriminate violence, that must have claimed the lives of numerous innocents.
It's a familiar scene especially to Americans. We have seen the images of a heavily damaged structure in Beirut, reduced mostly to rubble, and recoiled at the loss of American life...troops who were there to protect the locals, to bring an end to the shelling that Israel had been conducting from the waters off the coast of Lebanon's capital city. We all cannot help but remember the bombings of our own embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam. We couldn't have known it then, but that was the day that marked the beginning of a decades-long fight waged against us by the al-Qaeda network and its affiliates.
On those days, we got a taste of the costs that come with the hubris of trying to project power into countries that do not even share a border with us -- as we discovered that we were making bloodthirsty enemies that were willing to die to strike a blow against us. Today, Iran got a taste of the costs of hubris.
The parallels between today's events and the Marine barracks bombing and the Nairobi (and Dar es Salaam) embassy bombings are stark and unavoidable. The location and the images make that connection for us. They give powerful testimony to the truth of the old adage that those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat that history.
The US never really got over the hubris we have, trying to sort out the world as we think it should be. I'd say our motivations are more generous, than the Iranians' efforts, but we also picked sides. And, in the Middle East at least, this is what comes of picking sides.
Iran is getting a taste of that today. This is what comes of decades of meddling in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria -- abetting the perpetrators of terror and war throughout the region. It may be that Iran will also come to feel the pain of an attack that hits more directly at the homeland. The question is whether they will learn the lessons we have never learned. The arrogance of ambition and mission comes with a price beyond rubies.
I doubt Iranian leaders will take the lesson to heart. Even as I write this, I have to admit that with each new crisis, I wonder what we could do to solve it -- how we can advance the cause of (secular, Western) modernism. The Iranians may think differently in that they look at how they can advance the shiite cause, but they are afflicted with the same basic instinct to go beyond their borders and do something.
I know the world would be a better place if the Iranians would get past that. When they get past the notion that they need to project power and influence events beyond their own borders, they might even feel less motivation to pursue their nuclear weapons development. I just don't see that happening any time soon. They are as evangelical about heir own beliefs as are. Would that today's events might give Iran the pause to reflect that we are unable to take.