Shi'ite Iran, from its inception in 1979, saw Sunni organizations, such as Hamas, as tools with which to undermine the Sunni rulers, who control most of the Arab world.
A full scale Middle Eastern, Islamic type of war between the Sunnis and Shiites is raging. Officials in Washington are doing their best to label it anything but a war; when asked if it is a war, they seem to react in fear, and ignore the issue by saying, "We must do our best to ensure that such a war does not happen."
By refusing to label what is going on a war, however, we may well be preventing ourselves from devising policies which would address the problem, and make it evolve in the best interests of the US.
Historically, Islamic warfare has not necessarily been one in which large armies have fought each other, at least at the beginning of conflicts. What usually happens is that there are what we in the West call "terrorist raids," in which opposing sides send small raiding parties into each other's territory. These raids are ongoing and cause both sides to live in a constant state of tension with one another.
The dispute then festers until one side is strong enough to vanquish the other; from that day on, each side lives in an uneasy relationship with the other. The vanquished look for an opportunity to avenge their loss. Sadly, Middle Easterners culturally are unable bring themselves to "let bygones be bygones" a concept totally alien to Middle Eastern culture. Disputes therefore fester, then erupt when one side perceives the other as weak. (continue reading...)