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.
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.
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.
Of course, the US has long targeted Iran and Iraq as potential regional rivals to be controlled or broken. Operation Ajax in 1953 installed a friendly regime in Iran. The US was to some degree involved in the November 1963 coup d’état in Iraq. More recently there were the UN sanctions against Iraq from 1990 – 2003, which long outlived their original purpose — but nicely served the alliance’s interests, making invasion and occupation feasible.
Alliances are born and thrive amidst shared goals, and the US-Israel-Saudi alliance has been one of the most successful of the 21st century’s first decades. It’s so obvious and simple that it require no coodination, just clear understanding of each nation’s goals.
Will the US or Israel attack Iran?
- High risk. Who knows how Iran will repsond?
- It might build support for Iran among nations with large Islamic populations, and even among nonaligned nations.
- It might boost support for jihadists in western and Islamic nations.
- It might not substantially damage Iran’s (legal) enrichment programs.
The discussion of war is red-meat for the armchair strategists who provide cheerleaders for the US military machine (which has eaten US foreign policy). But the senior leaders of the US-Israel-Saudi alliance are not blood-thirsty like the fools in the bleachers cheering for immediate war. Sanctions worked well to weaken Iraq, and will do the same to Iran, The sanctions against Iran began in 2006, and become tight and oppressive later this year (see Wikipedia). Perhaps in 5 or 10 years Iran too will become vulnerable for invasion, occupation, and neutering. Especially if economic hardship creates internal strife (aided by US and Israeli subversion programs, including support for anti-regime terrorists).
It’s called RealPolitik. Done in the name of the American people, although producing no benefits for us.
For more information
See the FM Reference Page about Iran, with these sections: