Tag Archives: iran

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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A look at the world as it is, not as we’re told it is

Summary:  The news media usually report accurately, more or less.  Often they prefer to act as stenographers for governments and corporations.  Sometimes the logical thread linking events — the narrative — is obscure, hidden in the noise.  Today we look at three examples of hidden history.

The world is not always as we’re told it is.  Here are three of today’s major stories, where the true narrative remains hidden — and we attempt to guess at the truth.

  1. The recovery in America
  2. The war against Iran
  3. Germany fighting to preserve the eurozone

(1)  The recovery in America

  • Public debt outstanding as of 31 December 2010:  $ 9,390,476,088,043
  • Public debt outstanding as of 31 December 2012:  $10,447,662,851,807
  • Cost of the recovery:  $1,057 billion.
  • The increase in GDP bought by that fiscal stimulus:  $561.2 billion

That does not mean the stimulus was wasted.  Imagine the recession that a balanced budget would have produced.  It does mean that cheering about a recovery is delusional; describing this as a “sustainable recovery” is doubly so.

Note: the public debt does not include treasury bonds bought by the social security trust funds, which are loans from the US government to the US government.

For more about this see About the January jobs report – mildly good news, but bought at great cost.

(2) The war against Iran

We can only guess at the plans of government leaders.  That’s understandable operational secrecy, not a conspiracy.  So what plan drives the intense propaganda drive demonizing Iran?  If Israel plans to attack, they’ve forfeited any hope of surprise. Logic and history are our only guides.

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Israel leads America on a march to war. A march to folly.

Summary:  After five years of laughing at the rumors of war with Iran, I’ve changed my tune.  We can only guess at such things, but there’s considerable evidence that Israel plans to attack Iran this year unless Iran abandon’s it development of atomic power (legitimate under IAEA treaties).  Israel cannot inflict much damage, but hopes Iran’s response will start a war with the US — and US firepower will destroy Iran’s military infrastructure.  Leaving Israel as dominant military power in the Middle East.  Welcome to July 1914, another example of America’s inability to learn from history leading us to folly.  We can stop this war, but only by making our views known!

Telegram from artist Frederic Remington in January 1897: “Everything is quiet {in Cuba}. There is no trouble. There will be no war. I wish to return.”
Reply by William Randolph Hearst: “Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”
— Apocryphal account of the actual propaganda campaign leading to the Spanish-American War.  Will we ever learn?

Contents

These are only a few of the articles flooding the news media, an ominous beating of the war drums.  Like that before the Iraq War.  Only our credulity and passivity makes it possible to take a great nation to war with so little thought.  Links to posts giving more information appear at the end.

  1. Source of much pro-war reasoning: “Time to Attack Iran – Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option“, Matthew Kroenig, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012
  2. From a well-wired observer: “The Ticking Clock”, Robert Haddick (Editor of the Small Wars Journal), Foreign Policy, 10 February 2012
  3. From a very well-wired reporter:  “Why Israel Might Believe Attacking Iran Is Worthwhile”, Michael Hirsh (chief correspondent of the National Journal), The Atlantic, 12 February 2012
  4. The view from Israel:  “Israelis prepare for war with Iran”, Larry Derfner (Israeli journalist), Salon, 16 February 2012

(1)  Source of much of the pro-war reasoning

Time to Attack Iran – Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option“, Matthew Kroenig, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012 — Much of the analysis saturating the news just repeats Kroenig’s thinking, another demonstration of how easily ideas become established wisdom in US geopolitical circles. But that does not mean that Kroenig’s views are not shared by Israel’s leaders.  Opening:

In early October, U.S. officials accused Iranian operatives of planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on American soil. Iran denied the charges, but the episode has already managed to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran. Although the Obama administration has not publicly threatened to retaliate with military force, the allegations have underscored the real and growing risk that the two sides could go to war sometime soon — particularly over Iran’s advancing nuclear program.

For several years now, starting long before this episode, American pundits and policymakers have been debating whether the United States should attack Iran and attempt to eliminate its nuclear facilities. Proponents of a strike have argued that the only thing worse than military action against Iran would be an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Critics, meanwhile, have warned that such a raid would likely fail and, even if it succeeded, would spark a full-fledged war and a global economic crisis. They have urged the United States to rely on nonmilitary options, such as diplomacy, sanctions, and covert operations, to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb. Fearing the costs of a bombing campaign, most critics maintain that if these other tactics fail to impede Tehran’s progress, the United States should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

But skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease — that is, that the consequences of a U.S. assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption. The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.

(2)  A report from a well-wired observer

The Ticking Clock“, Robert Haddick (Editor of the Small Wars Journal), Foreign Policy, 10 February 2012 — “Four reasons why — this time — you should believe the hype about Israel attacking Iran.” Excerpt:

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Iran: War Drums Beating

Summary:  Here we repost an article by retired GOP operative Mike Lofgren giving perspective on the looming war with Iran.  He also sees the current situation as similar in some ways to that of Europe in early July 1914.  It’s a disturbing analogy.  As is the obvious similarities between the lies creating America’s lust for war with Iraq, and those today about Iran.

Iran: War Drums Beating“, Mike Lofgren, Truthout, 7 February 2012 — Reposted with the author’s permission, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 US License.

For most of my three-decade career handling national security budgets in Congress, Iran was two or three years away from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The idea of an Islamic bomb exerts a peculiar fascination on American political culture and shines a searchlight on how the gross dysfunctionality of American politics emerges synergistically from the individual dysfunctions of its component parts: the military-industrial complex; oil addiction; the power of foreign-based lobbies; the apocalyptic fixation on the holy land by millions of fundamentalist Americans; US elected officials’ neurotic need to show toughness, especially in an election year.

The rational calculus of nuclear deterrence, which had guided US policy during the cold war, and which the US government still applies to plainly despotic and bellicose nuclear states like North Korea, has gone out the window with respect to Iran.

It is curious that the world already confronts over 100 Islamic bombs: those possessed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is even more curious that Pakistan may have had a maximum of 30 to 50 such weapons at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country, which resulted in a shotgun marriage between Washington and Islamabad. A decade of partnership with the United States netted Pakistan about $20 billion in aid money and at least 50 more nuclear devices; anyone who knows anything about the fungibility of money will conclude that the United States partially funded Pakistan’s nuclear buildup, knowingly or not. Pakistan’s government has also been credibly linked to sponsorship of terrorist organizations that have operated outside its territory. But Iran, we are told, is different. A window is closing, and it is closing not in two years, but in six months. And we had better leap through it before it is too late.

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