Friday, February 24, 2012

Iran—a warmongering update

There is damn good question when contemplating an attack on Iran.  Is this merely an insane idea or is it the worst idea in human history?

The prospects of war in Iran infuriates me on so many levels, I hardly know where to start.  I am so damn tired of someone telling me who to hate and why.  Thankfully, there are others who see the utter absurdity of it all.  Maybe, just maybe, for once we can slow down the warmongers with some volume level 11 ridicule.

Netanyahu calls top US general a servant of Iran
Published: 21 February, 2012, 22:49

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey made news over this week by calling an Israeli-led attack on Iran foolish if attempted anytime soon. (see second video) Israeli officials aren’t impressed, however, and are responding with words of their own.

Gen. Dempsey denounced a strike on Iran in the near future as “destabilizing” and “not prudent” over the weekend while speaking to CNN in regards to America and Israel’s effort to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear warhead. Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has now addressed that statement himself, calling into question the US official’s intentions.

Netanyahu is now suggesting that the US is adopting policies that will favor Iran, and not their historical ally: Israel.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz (“The Land”) is reporting that PM Netanyahu had harsh words for the JCOS commander, saying that his on-the-record comments over postponing any strike are remarks that “served the Iranians.”

“The Iranians see there’s controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them,” a senior Israeli official adds to the paper.

Over the weekend, Gen. Dempsey discussed allegation of war against Iran, which have only escalated as of late. Over the past few months, the US has mobilized its military around Iran and has made plans for a massive missile exercise in conjunction with Israel for later this year. As Iranian/Israeli hostilities continue to amount, however, Israeli officials have repeatedly stated concern over America’s reluctance to act already on Iran.

American intelligence believes that, if Iran is indeed developing a nuclear weapon as rumored, they do not stand to finish their research anytime soon. In the interim, the US hopes that diplomatic talks and negotiations will thwart that research before it matures. Israel, however, appears much more concerned and has condemned the US for not acting on the offensive already. Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon explicitly called the Obama administration"hesitant” in their unwillingness to attack, which was followed by a warning only a day later by the nation’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in which he urged the US to "move from words to deeds.”

Discussing whether an attack on Iran seems worthwhile for the US military right now, Gen. Dempsey told CNN on Sunday, “A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives.” more
What insane reasoning goes into embargoing oil over...what? exactly.  Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Even so serious a guy as Juan Cole cannot resist pointing out the absurdity of the invented "threat" posed by those wily Persians.
Ring of Iranian Bases Threatens US
Posted on 02/18/2012 by Juan

I had grabbed an earlier version of this graphic off a Democratic Underground bulletin board from 2005. It made the point that the United States, which professes itself menaced by Iran, rather has Iran encircled by military bases. I have tried to update the map a bit, though this area is a moving target and the map no doubt isn’t perfect. It is expressive enough, however, of the reality. Iraq and Uzbekistan no longer have American bases, but the US military now has a refueling station in Turkmenistan.

US Bases Encircle Iran

Some critics complained that forward operating bases are not much of a base. But actually, this map vastly understates the case. It shows only a few of the estimated 450 US military bases and outposts in Afghanistan, e.g. And it does not show drone bases, of which the US has 60 around the world.

Iran has 150 billion barrels in petroleum reserves, among the largest reserves in the world, but they cannot be exploited by US corporations because of Israel lobby-inspired US congressional sanctions on Iran. US elites, especially Big Oil, dream of doing regime change in Iran so as to get access to those vast reserves. Likely the most important US objection to the Iranian civilian nuclear enrichment program is that it could give Iran “nuclear latency,” the ability to construct a bomb quickly if it seemed to Tehran that the US planned to attack. That is, the real objection in Washington to Iranian nuclear know-how is that it makes Iraq-style regime change impossible and so puts Iranian petroleum out of reach of Houston for the foreseeable future. This consideration is likely the real reason that Washington does not, so to speak, go ballistic about North Korea and Pakistan having actual nuclear warheads, but like to has a fainting spell at the very idea of Iran enriching uranium to 3.5 percent (a bomb takes 95%). North Korea and Pakistan don’t have oil. more
James Fallows seems oddly soothed by the fact the even the "let's murder as many Iraqis as possible" New York Times has called a short time-out in the rush to a new war.
Iran Drumbeat Watch: Now, on Page 1
FEB 22 2012, James Fallows

Anyone following the news already knows this, but for the record: it's very good to see the NYT running, on page one and above the fold*, an analysis of the reckless agitation for a preemptive military strike on Iran, and of the risks this talk holds for all involved. Lots of people wrote these analyses, after the fact, about the panicky rush-toward-war mentality that preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is certainly better to start talking about the problem now, when "hey, wait a minute" thoughts can make a difference.

Peter Beinart, in the Daily Beast, weighs in to the same effect.

I am only in internet range for a moment, so no opportunity to lard this up with references, links, and sub-arguments. Therefore I'll make just this blunt point: this war talk is dangerous, it can lead to "Guns of August" consequences, and it is particularly dangerous to have Republican candidates decide that outdoing one another in warlike talk about Iran is good for them or the country.**
* This is a quaint allusion to the days when news came via "papers," which had a fold across the middle of their front page.

** The Times says about the politics of the issue:  more
Even in the staid Asia Times, we find that the idea of war with Iran is so preposterous, they can find someone who believes the only appropriate response is ridicule.
Real cowards go to Tehran
By Pepe Escobar

Imagine the classic United States neo-conservative wet dream; staring at Iran on a map and salivating about the crossroads between Europe and Asia, between the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent, between the Arabian Sea and Central Asia, with 10% of the world's proven oil reserves (over 150 billion barrels) and 15% of proven gas reserves - an energy complex bigger than Saudi Arabia and arbiter of the energy routes from the Persian Gulf to the West and Asia via the Strait of Hormuz.

It's like a pudgy armchair action man mesmerized by a nimble lap dancer. I'm gonna make you mine, honey. It's regime change time, gotta snuff out the owner of this joint. Otherwise, people will start talking; what kind of chicken global hegemon is this?

So the neo-cons got their New Year's Eve Barack Obama administration's Iran sanctions/embargo package, duly replicated by the European poodle parade. But it was not supposed to be like this. The lap dancer leapt from the stage and applied a neck scissors on the armchair action man; he's suffocating, not her. The whole thing is ... misfiring! Just like the latest neo-con Big Idea - the invasion, occupation and inevitable defeat in Iraq, to the tune of more than US$1 trillion.

Baby, sanction me one more time 
Let's review some of the latest evidence. Tehran has just sent two of its warships through the Suez Canal towards the Mediterranean; they docked at the Syrian port of Tartus - no less. Not so long ago, disgraced dictator and close House of Saud pal Hosni Mubarak would have probably bombed them.

Tehran cut off oil exports to the top European war poodles, Britain and France. That's only 1% of British imports and 4% of France's imports - but the message was clear; if the depressed Club Med countries insist on following Anglo-French warmongering, they're next.

Brent crude is hitting $121 a barrel - an eight-month high. West Texas Intermediate, traded in New York, is hovering around $105. Brent is crucial, because it sets the consumer price for gasoline in most of the US and Western Europe. The neo-cons swore on their Bibles and Torahs there would be no oil spike. It happened - like clockwork, proving once again their knowledge of market speculation is of a two-year-old (no offense to lovely two-year-olds).

The funds Tehran is losing because of the sanctions - in terms of less exports to Europe - are being largely compensated by the oil-price spike caused by the neo-con-driven warmongering. On top of it, Tehran is bound to sell more oil to its top Asian clients - China, India, Japan and South Korea, and even Turkey, all of whom, with varying degrees of diplomacy, have told Washington to mind its own business.

As Asia Times Online had advanced, it took some time but Iran and China have just closed a new oil pricing deal. And the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is a definitive go. And Afghanistan and Pakistan - as well as Iran - badly want to be admitted at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), accelerating regional economic integration.

The fact that the Israel lobby drafters of the sanctions package couldn't foresee any of this proves once again they live the vegetative life of armchair "action" men.

Neo-con parrots are left to the "sanctions are biting" blah blah blah. Or to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, married to neo-con Robert Kagan, assuring pressure is being put on all these countries so they may do "what they can to increase sanctions, particularly to wean themselves from Iranian crude". Nobody is "weaning" from anything - apart from the self-defeating European poodles.

Also exposed is the myth of Saudi spare capacity. There is none. Saudi reserves are falling at a rate of 3% a year (it's exporting 11.8 million barrels a day, and falling). Moreover, the House of Saud does not want to pump more oil; it needs high oil prices to bribe its own population out of noxious Arab Spring ideas.

Then there's the strawberry on the cheesecake, too delicious to pass up. Goldman Sachs has just placed Iran as one of the "Next 11" in the developing world after the BRICS, only one among five developing nations with above average "productivity and sustainability of growth". Perhaps a Persian Britney Spears should be singing "Baby, sanction me one more time." more

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