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Update on the prospects of war with Iran, from Stratfor

6 September 2008

Given all the rumors about Israel or Iran attacking Iran, this report makes some telling points.  It also provide interesting data, which are outside the scope of this excerpt (you have to subscribe to get them).

“The Deafening Silence on Iran”, Stratfor, 5 September 2008 — Excerpt:

We have heard nothing from the Bush administration on Iran since before the war in Georgia — although a State Department official told us on Thursday that the last official statement was issued by the U.S. Treasury on Aug. 12. Certainly, the constant barrage of comments by the Bush administration on the Iranian threat has decreased dramatically. Frankly, while there might have been passing mentions, the administration appears to have simply dropped the subject.

The silence is, of course, enormously significant.

Prior to Aug. 8, the focus of the United States was on Iran. Washington was warning Iran that the deadline for delivering an answer on freezing nuclear development had passed, and the United States was now going to ask its partners in dealing with Iran — the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany — to impose sanctions. Obviously, Russia was part of that group and, equally obviously, it was in no mood to work with the United States on placing sanctions. The Russians have said that they do not see sanctions in general as a desirable strategy. With the Russians out of the picture, the sanctions won’t work anyway. You can’t have a dam with a section missing.

That made the negotiations and the sanctions strategy moot. What strikes us as extraordinary is that the Bush administration has not returned to discussing Iran and posing new strategy or making new threats. The administration simply has acted as if a major confrontation with Iran had not been under way just prior to the Russo-Georgian war and, indeed, has acted as if Iran was not a major issue, which it obviously was and continues to be. The American media have not been particularly aggressive in demanding that the administration explain the relative silence on Iran, and the administration has not raised it.

As we have said, one geopolitical option for the United States now is a deal with Iran. We do not know whether one is in the works, but we know this: The rhetoric from Washington on Iran has quieted since the Russo-Georgian war and has stayed quiet.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

My other posts about this rumor

  1. More rumors of war: our naval armada has sailed to Iran!, 9 August 2008 — Tracing the origin of these rumors.
  2. Update on the rumored armada sailing to Iran, 13 August 2008 — With updates from Stratfor and Debkafile.
  3. A US naval armada is en route to blockade Iran and start WWIII (the story gets better every day), 14 August 2008 — More details from one of the bloggers who shot this story into cyberspace, and an official US denial.
  4. UPI reports on the multi-national armada sailing to Iran, 15 August 2008
  5. Stop the presses: no naval armada has sailed to blockade Iran!, 20 August 2008

 Here is the full archive of my posts about a possible strike at Iran by Israel or the US.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. yarrrrrr permalink
    6 September 2008 12:45 pm

    {FM note: I have updated yarrrrr’s original comment with additional links and info. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!}

    Here is the original story. Note it is labeled “commentary”, not news. Also, it appears that no mainstream media outside the ME have run this story.

    Commentary: Israel of the Caucasus“, ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE (UPI Editor at Large), Middle East Times, 2 September 2008 — Excerpt:

    “In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.

    The attack ordered by Saakashvili against South Ossetia the night of Aug. 7 provided the Russians the pretext for Moscow to order Special Forces to raid these Israeli facilities where some Israeli drones were reported captured.”

    Other ME organizations have run the “story”, including (of course) Debkafile (this, however, does not mean that the story is false). Here is another example:

    Russians raided Israeli airfields in Georgia that were to be used against Iran“, Matzav, 5 September 2008:

    Like

  2. yarrrrrr permalink
    6 September 2008 12:47 pm

    My comment got stuck in the spam filter.

    Fabius Maximus replies: Yes, that happens a lot. However irratating, we cannot function without them. The other 23 stories in the trap were geniune spam.

    Like

  3. yarrrrrr permalink
    6 September 2008 12:59 pm

    For those of you with subscriptions to Stratfor:
    http://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical_diary/geopolitic_diary_deafening_silence_iran

    Like

  4. tdaxp permalink
    6 September 2008 1:57 pm

    Hope so!

    Peace with Iran!“, Dan Tdaxp, posted at his blog, 15 August 2008 — Excerpt:

    “Iran’s ties with American allies continue to expand. Iran, whose conventional forces have consistently recognized international borders (unlike Russia) can be a pillar of the peace in the Middle East. It is useful in Afghanistan and Iraq, and potentially useful in the Caucuses and Central Asia.”

    Like

  5. 6 September 2008 2:11 pm

    Let’s hope so… all the 9/11 terrorists, all the Taliban, and all of A-Q is Sunni and doesn’t even consider Shiite Iran to be a Muslim country. The mullahs are not stupid enough to start a nuclear war. Attacking them would be an economic as well as a PR disaster for the US, and will also be if Israel does it. Given how things are going in Afghanistan this is the last thing we need. Imagine how US consumers will react to yet another conflict… buying imported Chinese goods, buying new domestic cars? Not so much… This is the biggest failure of the Bush administration, not thinking through the side effects of things like invading the middle of Islamic territory, and leaving one war unfinished while another is begun, with no clear plan for leaving… am I wrong to assume that throughout the military and the government, there are things such as schedules, times when things are supposed to get done? Why does that apply to reports and new armaments etc. and not to campaigns? Traditional separations between conceptual and bureaucratic areas or departments are no longer valid, if they ever were… systemic adaptation is a necessity at this point.

    Like

  6. plato's cave permalink
    6 September 2008 2:29 pm

    The dedicated believers (among my friends) that we will attack Iran take silence from the administration as a sign that it is about to happen. Their assumption is that Bush and Cheney are at once profoundly devious, scornful of rational argument, uninterested in legacy, and/or insane. I might agree with any of those, but I don’t think they are indifferent to the upcoming election. Scott Ritter once said there was a window in which an attack could happen, and it would close about two months ago, when the presidential election got going seriously. An Iraq vet told me the weather window also closed about the same time.

    Like

  7. Al L. permalink
    6 September 2008 8:04 pm

    reref: comment #16 under “Medvedev Doctrine…”
    The bear perhaps has realized he has 2 creatures(Iran, Russia) trying to distract him to their own ends.
    The bear has been smart enough to let one of them know he has an eye on it at all times(the Mt. Whitney docked in Poti yesterday, reference Globalsecurity.org to see how insignificant 17 tons of aid is on this ship and what the ship actually does. A very smart move by the bear. It is a very important warship but has no claws.)
    But now the bear is silent toward the other creature, why? Will the bear attack it and there for take the chance that the first creature will again steal more from the bear. Or is the bear learning to use his powerful senses and the threat of his powerful body to hold the creatures at bay? My bet on the bear with his current brain is he wants to pounce but the only 2 things holding him back are a part of his better brain named Gates and the short time to the election to spin it.
    If the bear has grown smarter these last 8 years he will observe and parry his opponents. If he has not we are in for an October surprise.
    Oh how terrible it is for a bear to have become so distracted chewing with his powerful jaws and ignore his senses for so long that now he is stuck reacting to all the creatures that snuck up on him.

    Like

  8. Robert Petersen permalink
    7 September 2008 8:21 pm

    If the war between Russia and Georgia has proved something it is how weak the United States has become. There has always been – even after Iraq and Afghanistan – some illusion of strenght left. Even today some doesn’t get how weak the USA has become. I mean the United States still had all those fancy aircraft carriers and stealth bombers right? The great irony of the war in the Kaukasus was that the Russians – with their mostly outdated hardware – on the battlefield showed how little the United States could do and how few its options it had. Beyond tough words to the Kremlin and some humanitarian aid the United States has done virtually nothing to help Georgia. Estonia and Ukraine beware.

    I remember an analysis written back in 2004 after the reelection of president Bush. At very good one. It predicted that despite a lot of bluster and tough retoric the United States would actually be paralysed and unable to do much – caught as it was between the neocon ideology of conquering the world and the hard realities like lack of manpower and money. Despite some feeble attempt of “realpolitik” the United States has acted just like that. In other words it has mostly only been able to react to crisis like in the Kaukasus.

    I suppose there will continue to be a lot of speculation of a coming war between the United States and Iran. But unless somebody does something extremely stupid (the “war by mistake”-scenario) I suspect nothing will happen. Not exactly perfect, but far better than an all-out war between Iran and the United States.

    Like

  9. OldSkeptic permalink
    8 September 2008 9:05 am

    One of the strange things over the last few years is that Iran keeps putting its hand up (in real concrete terms) and saying “I want to be your friend”. And we keep putting it down.

    The record is clear: Afghanistan would have been impossible but for Iranian help. AQ members were rounded up with the help of Iranian intelligence. Iraq is, relatively quiet (a bloodbath now rather than a slaughterhouse) thanks to Iranian help (e.g. knocking heads together between Sadr and Maliki). I’ve actually took the time to read the various offers Iran has made to the US (and the rest of the international community) over enrichment, regional security, etc. At the very least they were good starting points for dialogue. They must think at times “what do we have to do” (and of course “why do they keep misquoting us, we didn’t say that”)?

    They are not going to unconditionally surrender, but they seem to be going way out on a limb to prevent conflict, even to the point of weakening their legitimate national interests (a good example of this is their signing, voluntarily, of the additional protocols with the IAEA, no one else in the World has ever allowed that level of interference and monitoring).

    So it falls more and more into the Russian/Chinese orbit. They don’t want to go there as it is pretty obvious from their moves that they prefer the non-aligned way (e.g India, much more sensible to keep fairly neutral and benefit from trade and good relations everywhere) but if this goes on for much longer they will be entrenched. Not sensible from basic selfish reasons, gas in the next oil and Iran has huge reserves second only to Russia. {Though the sight of a Prime Minster Brown successor grovelling to Russia and Iran for gas, after all the British rhetoric in recent times, does provide a certain Schadenfreude pleasure).

    Have any of the various neo-cons and their “fellow travellers” (which today equals just about the entire US political elite, except Ron Paul and a very few others) ever read Boyd or even Sun Tze about making allies?

    Like

  10. Barry permalink
    15 September 2008 2:55 pm

    Geg Panfile’s comment rings true.

    But according to the BBC WS:
    neocons have become interested in Afghanistan; yes we are now to be told that the the Sunni Taliban are a cats paw of Shia Iran who are supplying them with directional landmines, obviously all that needs to be done is to attack Iran and all problems in Iraq and Afghanistan will be solved.

    Like

  11. 17 September 2008 1:51 am

    Do I simplify all matters by saying that the US acts everywhere as an evil empire? Yeah, that would certainly oversimplify things. And that’s why I pointed out that the US is behaving like every other power. The US happens to be more powerful so it’s therefore, as you’d expect, more violent. But, yeah, everyone else is about the same. So when the British were running the world, they were doing the same thing.

    — Noam Chomsky, from “Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky In Our Times” (2003) — source

    Like

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