Stratfor believes that while al-Qaeda has declined under US blows, Hezbollah remainds largely intact. If Iran replaces Iraq as the focus of US effort, Hezbollah will inevitably come to the forefront.
Unlike al Qaeda, which has been badly damaged as an organization since 9/11, Hezbollah has never been stronger -- and does pose a strategic threat to the United States. In addition to Hezbollah -- which might be better positioned to conduct attacks in many parts of the world than the Iranian government itself -- Iran's retaliatory plans would include other external surrogates, as well as indigenous Iranian forces such as the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which includes its Quds Force and Special Unit of Martyr Seekers.
The political focus may shifting from Iraq to Iran. The Washington Note describes this letter from Chuck Hagel to President Bush to make an unconditional commitment to diplomacy in order to dispel any fears that a new war with Iran is in the offing.
I write to urge you to consider pursuing direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran. ... Unless there is a strategic shift, I believe we will find ourselves in a dangerous and increasingly isolated position in the coming months. I do not see how the collective actions that we are now taking will produce the results that we seek. If this continues, our ability to sustain a united international front will weaken as countries grow uncertain over our motives and unwilling to risk open confrontation with Iran, and we are left with fewer and fewer policy options.
The difficulty with Hagel's suggestion is that a unilateral renunciation the possibility of military action may actually reduce the prospect of diplomatic success. The Christian Science Monitor observes that "Iran is the new Iraq", the new foreign policy fault line that divides opinion on how best to handle Islamic radicalism.