Stratfor, an independent private intelligence firm, argues that not only have we destroyed Al Qaeda as an effective force, we’ve also isolated Iran in the Arab world to the point where they can either play along with us or be the target not just of us, but also the rest of the Middle East. (Stratfor is not a Republican apologist organization, having criticized Bush at many points in the past.) The money quote from their analysis:
The president’s primary goal in 2008 is simple: reaching an arrangement with Iran. Ideally, this would be a mutually agreed upon deal that splits influence in Iraq, but we have already moved past the point where that is critical. Al Qaeda, the reason for being involved in the region in the first place, is essentially dead. The various Sunni Arab powers that made al Qaeda possible have lined up behind Washington. Iran and the United States may still wish to quibble over details, but the strategic picture is clearing: a U.S.-led coalition is going to shape the Middle East, and it is up to Iran whether it wants to play the role of that coalition’s spear or its target. And the Bush administration has the full power of the United States — and one long year — to drive that point home.
While I hope this is true, I’m also not sure Iran would necessarily care about being isolated. Ahmadinejad doesn’t strike me as the most stable guy over there. But, we should all hope Stratfor is correct.