Tag Archives: iran

Read these articles about our past to learn about today’s challanges

Summary:  One reason we have such difficulty charting  path to the future is that have lost so much of our past. It not only destabilizes us, but limits our ability to learn from our history. Here are three articles about our past that illuminate problems we face today.

History

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(1) Why weren’t they grateful?“, Pankaj Mishra reviews Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Very British Coup by Christopher de Bellaigue, London Review of Books, 21 June 2010

Excerpt:

APOC, renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1935, grossed profits of $3 billion between 1913 and 1951, but only $624 million of that remained in Iran. In 1947, the British government earned £15 million in tax on the company’s profits alone, while the Iranian government received only half that sum in royalties. The company also excluded Iranians from management and barred Tehran from inspecting its accounts.

Growing anti-British sentiment finally forced Muhammad Reza to appoint Mossadegh as prime minister early in 1951. The country’s nationalists by now included secularists as well as religious parties and the communist as well as non-communist left. Mossadegh, who, de Bellaigue writes, ‘was the first and only Iranian statesman to command all nationalist strains’, moved quickly to nationalise the oil industry. Tens of thousands lined the streets to cheer the officials sent from Tehran to take over the British oil facilities in Abadan, kissing the dust-caked cars – one of which belonged to Mehdi Bazargan, who would later become the first prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The American ambassador reported that Mossadegh was backed by 95% of the population, and the shah told the visiting diplomat Averell Harriman that he dared not say a word in public against the nationalisation. Mossadegh felt himself to be carried along on the wings of history. … He was supported by a broad coalition of new Asian countries.

{T}he British, desperately needing the revenues from what was Britain’s biggest single overseas investment, wouldn’t listen. …

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The Syrian dominos

Summary: Today Tom Hayden briefs us on the situation in Syria, about what’s happening — and what might happen soon.

Photo from the Express Tribune of Pakistan

Civil wars are the worst type of warfare. However, we are not implying that there is such a thing as “good warfare.” There are only good causes.

In Syria we have a situation much like the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). As the fighting extends in time between the combat wing of the United Revolutionary Council and the despotic Assad regime, foreign players have begun entering the struggle.

  • Backing Assad, you have the Iranians, Russia and HizbAllah.
  • Backing the revolutionaries we have the Saudis, the Emirates, and to a limited degree, Turkey and Jordan.
  • The USA has sent aid, but best we know at this point it has been, we are told, only humanitarian aid.

In the meantime the body count grows and is now over 30,000.

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Our crusade slowly crushes Iran, and reveals much about us

Summary:  In pursuit of dominance over the Middle East the US government destroyed Iraq, one of the two regional powers. Now we run the same playbook against Iran.  Being a docile and easily led people, we don’t notice the similarity, or that our government trashes America’s greatest accomplishment on the world stage — and perhaps its primary legacy.

Contents

  1. This is success …
  2. … but it paints a sad picture of America
  3. Other posts about Iran

(1)  This is success for the US …

Iran Loses the Economic Battle
by John Allen Gay, The National Interest, 4 October 2012

Opening:

While negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program are at a standstill, news this week indicates that Iran is clearly losing the economic battle. As in other cases, currency problems in Iran may contribute to an unpredictable and destabilizing political outcome.

Iran’s currency fell by more than 18% against the dollar on Monday and another 8% on Tuesday, marking a new low in Iran’s continuing economic crisis. The figures are grim: a sheaf of rials worth ten thousand dollars a year ago would be worth about $3,750 Monday and $3,500 Tuesday; on Wednesday, there were protests in the bazaar.

Short of buyers, oil production has fallen dramatically. Peugeot has ended its role in Iran’s auto industry, which has seen production declines of up to 50%. Inflation and shortages have become daily troubles. Various basic goods reportedly have doubled or tripled in price in the last year. Chicken has become a luxury item.

Officially, inflation is at 23.5% ; unofficially, it is at least a few percentage points higher. With manufacturing lagging and certain imports (especially gold) growing in spite of the rapid currency depreciation, Iran’s foreign-exchange troubles apparently are being “passed through” as inflation.

Extreme shifts are coupled with widespread political uncertainty (some of the rial’s worst days have been around nuclear negotiations) and a central bank hobbled by international sanctions. Iran may be on the verge of a bout of hyperinflation.

More about this: “Iran sanctions now causing food insecurity, mass suffering“, Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, 7 October 2012 — “Yet again, the US and its allies spread mass human misery though a policy that is as morally indefensible as it is counter-productive.”

Let’s recap the play:  Our government, along with Israel’s, has incited fears about Iran’s nuclear program (public information doesn’t allow us to determine if they are largely baseless, like those made since 1984). They’ve hyped fears about what Iran would do with nukes, fears contradicted by history. these have allowed us to impose crippling sanctions on Iran.

(2)  but it paints a sad picture of America

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Hegemon at work on Iran, doing what hegemonic powers do. No war needed – or likely.

Summary: As the sanctions tighten like a noose around Iran, the US deploys its power on Iran’s borders to discourage resistance.  It’s a simple plan to slowly break their will, with Iran’s nukes as a pretext.  So far it’s working. Only China or Russia can save Iran. They probably will not do so.  Fear-mongering by the usual sources about war will probably again be wrong.

USS Stennis, 12 November 2011

Contents

  1. The naval deployment
  2. The overall military build-up
  3. The goal of US policy towards Iran
  4. For more information about nukes — & Iran

(1) The naval deployment

The US has been keeping two carriers in the Middle East.  DoD announced yesterday that a third will be deployed there.

  • The USS Enterprise is on station in the Middle East. It deployed from Norfolk on 11 March, and is scheduled for decommissioning on December 1.
  • The USS John Stennis deploys late this summer from Bremerton, WA. It was scheduled to deploy at the end of the year; it will take about one month to get on station.  See the DoD news release here.
  • The USS Eisenhower deployed from Norfolk on 20 June, to relieve the USS Abraham Lincoln — which left Persian Gulf area on 16 July.
  • The French nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is said to be sailing to the French naval base at Port Zayid, Abu Dhabi.  It is only 44,000 tons (US short tonnes); for comparison the US Nimitz is 112,000-plus tonnes.

(2)  The military build-up

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Threats to attack Iran are smoke. Sanctions on Iran are our tool. Weakening Iran is our goal.

Summary:  A follow-up post providing more evidence that neither the US nor Israel plans to attack Iran soon, based not just on the evidence and logic of the situation, but also on statements of senior Israeli officials.  This has been the standing forecast on the FM website since 2007.  See the links at the end for more information about our conflict with Iran.

Let’s not go there.

I received pushback from readers in response to The hidden objective of our alliance against Iran (June 11), showing that trade sanctions on Iran — not military strikes — were the primary tool of the informal US-Israel-Saudi alliance.  Their goal: to weaken Iran. Exaggerated, often fanciful, stories about Iran getting nukes and using nukes justify the sanctions. The news media narrative has this backwards.

This is logical as realpolitik — a safe means of meeting the individual goals of the tripartite alliance (explained in that post), and explains both the continued heated rhetoric despite so much evidence Iran stopped its direct bomb program in 2003 (for details see here and here).

Sanctions as the goal (not an intermediate step) also explains the strong criticism by so many officials in America and Israel of those beating war-drums (governments are not unitary entities; many officials in the US and Israel love wars).  Today we look at a few of the most prominent examples of the past year.  These officials do not challenge the basics of alliance policy — that Iran will get nukes soon (claims made incessantly since 1984) — merely the need for and risks of attacking Iran now.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan referred to the possibility a future Israeli Air Force attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as “the stupidest thing I have ever heard” during a conference held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on Friday. Dagan’s presentation during a senior faculty conference was his first public appearance since leaving his former role as chief of the Mossad at the end of September 2010.

Dagan said that Iran has a clandestine nuclear infrastructure which functions alongside its legitimate, civil infrastructure. It is the legitimate infrastructure, he said, that is under international supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Any strike on this legitimate infrastructure would be “patently illegal under international law,” according to Dagan.

… When asked about what would happen in the aftermath of an Israeli attack Dagan said that: “It will be followed by a war with Iran. It is the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end.”

Haaretz, 7 May 2011

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The hidden objective of our alliance against Iran

Summary:  This is post #80 about our long conflict with Iran, continuing the FM website’s long-held forecast that there will be no attack on Iran.  At last we discuss the mystery of this conflict:  why so many years of bold threats by US and Israel against Iran, saber-rattling never followed by military action? Usually this weakens the aggressors, making them look like paper tigers — diminishing their reputations and credibility.  What do we seek to accomplish? The answer is obvious (like the Emperor’s new clothes), although almost never stated in our news media or by our geopolitical experts (who prefer pretty lies).  Sanctions, not war, are the tool shaping the Middle East into a form better suiting the US-Israel-Saudi alliance.

Why do they hate us?

Also see the follow-up to this post: Threats to attack Iran are smoke. Sanctions on Iran are our tool. Weakening Iran is our goal.

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We are now in the fifth year of the most recent phase of a long-term campaign against Iran, extending back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. This phase began in December 2007 with release of the National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, stating that in 2003 Iran stopped its explicit program to develop atomic weapons. This changed the dynamics of the struggle from explicit war-mongering of the previous phase (“Anyone can go to Bagdad. Real men go to Tehran”), which assumed that Iran — like Iraq — was developing WMDs and hence a legitimate target of western force (ie, the debate was about when and how).

Dire forecasts that Iran will have nukes soon go back to 1984 (see Iran will have the bomb in 5 years (again)).  So many years of empty threats and repeated false forecasts are expensive, resulting in diminished reputation and credibility.  Especially in the past year, contradicted by so many statements by US officials and retired Israeli officials.

Are our actions rational? What are our goals in this conflict?   To see our goals, see what we’ve accomplished:  an ever-tightening network of sanctions on Iran, strangling its finances, trade, and infrastrcuture development.  After the destruction of the Baathist State in Iraq, the Shiite regime in Iran was the only potential regional hegemon.  The only State capable of and willing to oppose US suzerainty in the Middle East, Israel’s expansion into the Palestinian territories, and the Sunni domination of Islam.  Both Iran and Iraq have vast oil reserves, and crippling them not only pushed up oil prices but also removed them as potential leaders of OPEC — making weakening Iran a hat trick for the Saudi Princes.

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The Obama Doctrine: we will attack and destroy all non-nuclear rivals

Summary:  Obama announced a new grand strategy for America, and we didn’t notice (being in a deep stupor).  It’s a logical evolution of our increasingly aggressive strategy since 9-11.  It’s almost certain to end badly for us.  Today Tom Engelhardt explains the path our leaders have put us on.  Listen and you can hear the rapids in the distance.

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Today’s guest post:  “War as the President’s Private Preserve – Obama Breaks New Ground When It Comes to War With Iran
By Tom Engelhardt, originally published at TomDispatch, March 2012 — Reposted with the author’s generous permission.

Contents

  1. The Obama Doctrine
  2. The Power of Precedents
  3. War and the Presidential “I”
  4. About the author
  5. For more information

(1)  The Obama Doctrine

When I was young, the Philadelphia Bulletin ran cartoon ads that usually featured a man in trouble — dangling by  his fingers, say, from an outdoor clock.  There would always be people  all around him, but far too engrossed in the daily paper to notice.  The  tagline was: “In Philadelphia, nearly everybody reads the Bulletin.”

Those ads came to mind recently when President Obama commented  forcefully on war, American-style, in ways that were remarkably  radical.  Although he was trying to ward off a threatened Israeli  preemptive air strike against Iran, his comments should have shocked  Americans — but just about nobody noticed.

I don’t mean, of course, that nobody noticed the president’s  statements.  Quite the contrary: they were headlined, chewed over in the  press and by pundits.  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich attacked them.  Fox News highlighted their restraint.  (“Obama calls for containing Iran, says ‘too much loose talk of war.’”)  The Huffington Post highlighted the support for Israel they represented. (“Obama Defends Policies  Toward Israel, Fends Off Partisan Critiques.”)  Israeli Prime Minister  Netanyahu pushed back against them in a potentially deadly U.S.-Israeli  dance that might bring new chaos to the Middle East.  But somehow, amid  all the headlines, commentary, and analysis, few seemed to notice just  what had really changed in our world.

The president had offered a new definition of “aggression” against  this country and a new war doctrine to go with it.  He would, he  insisted, take the U.S. to war not to stop another nation from attacking  us or even threatening to do so, but simply to stop it from building a  nuclear weapon — and he would act even if that country were incapable  of targeting the United States.  That should have been news.

Consider the most startling of his statements: just before the  arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, the  president gave a 45-minute Oval Office interview to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.  A prominent pro-Israeli writer, Goldberg had  produced an article in the September issue of that magazine headlined “The Point of No Return.”  In it, based on interviews with “roughly 40 current and past Israeli  decision makers about a military strike,” he had given an Israeli air  attack on Iran a 50% chance of happening by this July.  From the recent  interview, here are Obama’s key lines:

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