This is a partial transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," March 4, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: As Iraqis continue to deal with the deadly fallout from last week's bombing of Askariyah Shrine in Samarra, the role of neighboring Iran in fueling the insurgency is becoming clearer.
My guest this week says Iran has, in fact, gained the upper hand in Iraq, leaving him increasingly concerned with Tehran's long-term influence there.
Michael Ruben is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and editor of "Middle East Quarterly."
MICHAEL RUBEN, SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Thanks for having me.
GIGOT: Why don't you describe for us how you think Iran is getting the upper hand in Iraq right now.
RUBEN: Well, people forget that Iran isn't the status quo power, and export of the revolution is a pillar of its ideology. They have a well- worn playbook, which they've used in southern Lebanon in promoting Hezbollah. And in Iraq, play by play, politically, economically and through information warfare, they're taking pages out of the same playbook.
GIGOT: Well, the Americans certainly know that playbook. We saw what happened in Lebanon. How have we let that happen in Iraq, which is so critical to American interests now?
RUBEN: Well, what Iran has done is use these unofficial non- governmental organizations. For example, one is called the Shaheed al-Midrob (ph) organization. Basically what they do is they hand out bags of cash in the middle of the night. We're not doing anything to shut that down.
At the same time, they're funneling in arms and money through cutouts and through other organizations, not only to Shia insurgents, but also to Sunni insurgents as well.
GIGOT: Now, we keep hearing — I've certainly heard it many times — that the Shiites in Iraq are not Persians. They're Arabs. And they're Iraqi patriots. And they're not going to subject to this kind of influence from Iran. So is that not the case?
RUBEN: You're absolutely right there. There's a huge difference between Iraqi Shiites and Persian Shiites — Iranian Shiites. The difference is, though, that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have trained Iraqi militias. And some of these Iraqi Shia militias, which are trained by Iran, are trying to impose on Iraqis, by force of arms, what they know they can't win through the hearts and minds.
GIGOT: All right, so what can the United States do about this if we want to stop this influence?
RUBEN: Well, we're faced with the same sort of operation in Bosnia where the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were trying to infiltrate in and...
GIGOT: This was in the 1990s?
RUBEN: In 1992. And help Muslim extremists. What we did then was actually roll up some of the Revolutionary Guards, intercept them.
Now, there's always a debate in Washington when this happens. The CIA says, "No, no, no. We shouldn't do anything. We should follow them and see what they're doing and can learn from it." The State Department says, "No, no, no. Don't do anything because they might then take revenge on us." And the Defense Department says, "They're killing our guys. We've got to do it."
In Bosnia, we did it. We intercepted a 747 filled with arms, men and money. In Iraq, we've been afraid to.
Bosnia's a better place because of it. Iraq, we're still having trouble.