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The Race for Iran

Is Iran “The Most Destabilizing Nation in the World” or an Essential Partner for Building Stability in the Middle East?

Standing reality on its head—at least in the eyes of most Middle Easterners—presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney declared during his recent visit to Israel that the Islamic Republic is “the most destabilizing nation in the world.” In fact, reputable surveys conducted by international and regional polling groups—see here and here—show that, by orders of magnitude, largely Sunni Arab populations see Israel and the United States as much bigger threats to their security and interests than Iran.  Al Jazeera asked our colleague, Seyed Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran, to comment on Governor Romney’s remark; to see the segment, click here or on the embedded video above.   

Mohammad’s observations that, given the record of American policy in the Middle East (and all the death and destruction it has caused), the United States is hardly in a position to “complain very much about Iran” and that, from an Iranian perspective, there is not a lot of difference between Romney and President Obama are well presented.  His explanation why the “soft war” that the Obama Administration is currently conducting against the Islamic Republic is not that different from a “hot war” is especially eloquent.  We, though, want to pick up on Mohammad’s response to the interviewer’s suggestion that it is Iranian intransigence which is blocking progress in the nuclear talks and prompting tougher sanctions:

“The Iranians have been talking.  The Iranians are basically saying that ‘we are willing to negotiate.’  But the Western position is ‘you give up everything and then we’ll start talking.’  The Iranian right to enriching uranium is a right that all sovereign countries have.  And the Iranian Revolution itself was partially about dignity and independence.  The Iranians are not going to accept being a second-rate country.  This is not the Saudi regime or the Jordanian regime.  This is a country that is fiercely independent.  So the Iranians will continue to enrich uranium within the framework of the NPT and international law.  The United States cannot stop Iran from doing so.  If the United States was reasonable and rational, if the Europeans were rational, then the Iranians would be willing to give further assurances to ease tensions.  But the United States isn’t really after that, in the eyes of Iranians.”  

We think that is an important statement, both of the Iranian position and of reality.  We have long argued that, if Washington accepted the principle and reality of internationally safeguarded enrichment in Iran, it would become eminently possible—not to say relatively easy—to negotiate a satisfactory resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  But the United States—even under the Obama Administration—does not want to do that, for recognizing Iran’s right to enrich implies recognizing the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political entity representing legitimate national interests.  We think that is unlikely to change after the U.S. presidential election in November, regardless of whether Romney or Obama wins.   

America’s unwillingness to recognize the Islamic Republic as a legitimate actor with legitimate interests is thwarting diplomatic prospects on other fronts.  Last week, the Iran’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee, made a statement during a Security Council discussion on the “Situation in the Middle East,” see here.  Khazaee’s statement offered a substantive analysis of regional dynamics in the Middle East: 

“The Middle East region is witnessing a widespread transformational thunderstorm that has hit across this region…the region is witnessing dramatic changes and people are aspiring for democracy and opposing dictators supported by some powers in the West.  At the same time the situation in the Middle East region is getting ever more complex.  There are more and more threats from terrorism, extremism and foreign interventions which are all impediments to growth, development and stability in the region.

In this situation, any miscalculations, making wrong decisions and fuelling the fire will affect the whole region and harm many people, as well as all stakeholders…This becomes too risky when in a given situation there is a deliberate attempt to change the realities on the ground through force and armed conflict and creating a fait accompli.” 

On the basis of this analysis, Khazaee argued that there needs to be a

“resetting or a revision of approaches towards the developments in the region.  The west must revise its approach about the Middle East.  There seems to be only one approach ahead of us that could bring peace, stability and prosperity and that is cooperation rather than confrontation, genuine response to the desires of the people rather than forcing them to accept what seems to be an artificial and superficial solution.” 

Turning specifically to Syria, Khazaee noted that, in the Islamic Republic’s view,

“the current crisis should only be resolved through national dialogue and in a peaceful manner…There are numerous efforts by certain states to further complicate the situation in Syria by providing financial aid and arms to armed groups.  Sabotage and terror as well as violence against innocent people must be brought to an end.  The regional countries should cooperate with one another to resolve the Syrian crisis so that the final result would be to the benefit of Syrian people, the region and the international community.” 

Of course, there is nothing really new in this statement of Iranian policy; we discussed Tehran’s perspective on Syrian developments in our last post, see here.  It is striking, though, that even some American foreign policy elites are now beginning to argue that Washington should be engaging Tehran over Syria.  These include Vali Nasr, the new dean of the Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies who previously advised the late Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, see here.  

Of course, Iran’s view of the possibilities for regional cooperation is not limited to Syria.  For some time, we have pointed out that the Islamic Republic has emerged, over the last decade or so, as an indispensable actor in virtually all of the major political and strategic dramas unfolding across the region, including post-conflict stabilization in Afghanistan, creating a more stable and secure Persian Gulf, and fighting jihadi extremism—precisely as American standing and influence have been declining.  The Arab Spring has only accelerated and intensified these trends.  As we have repeatedly argued, the United States cannot achieve any of its stated, high-priority goals in the region absent better relations with the Islamic Republic

But hegemonic ambition dressed up as do-gooder liberalism makes it difficult for the United States to assess accurately its strategic situation.  The Obama Administration’s approach to the Middle East provides a striking demonstration of this point. 

In his Al Jazeera appearance, Seyed Mohammad Marandi offers a clear overview of the American policies—including the policies of the Obama Administration—that have eviscerated the United States’ standing among the vast majority of Middle Easterners.  But American commentators willfully overlook the fact that, according to reputable international polls, regional publics hold U.S. policy in even deeper contempt today than they did when President George W. Bush left office.  Indeed, the dominant assessment in Washington foreign policy circles—and in the Administration—holds that the United States isn’t doing that badly at navigating the Arab Spring; moreover, the “mainstream” view posits that the Islamic Republic is the biggest “loser” from the Arab Spring.  One does not have to be a neoconservative to believe these things; this has become the new conventional wisdom in Washington, espoused by people who would strenuously and sincerely reject any effort to lump them in with neocons; see, for example, here and here.

On the basis of this (utterly mistaken, in our view) assessment, the United States—whether under a reelected Obama Administration or a new Romney Administration—will almost certainly continue its current, failing, and ultimately corrosive attempt to reassert hegemony in the Middle East.  

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett 

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114 Responses to “Is Iran “The Most Destabilizing Nation in the World” or an Essential Partner for Building Stability in the Middle East?”

  1. Photi says:

    James Canning says:
    August 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    James, you seem not to notice how obvious your constant dodging of direct questions is.

    James, do you get paid to comment on this site?

  2. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    Michael Ledeen wants to create the impression that the dispute with Iran is not about enriching uranium, simply because he can see that Iran is willing to compromise on that issue. And Ledeen does not want any improvement in US relations with Iran.

  3. Nasser says:

    James Canning,

    I agree with fyi that Iran needs nuclear weapons for national survival. How they go about doing so I don’t know but I have long maintained that Iran needs to spend more of resources on its defense and less on misguided social welfare schemes.

  4. Nasser says:

    fyi,

    “US will not be able to afford the military cost of defending Israel after war with Iran.”

    - What do you mean by this?

    - As to the possibility of a war with Iran, I have seen several prominent former statesmen of the US including James Baker, Henry Kissinger, and John Podesta express the belief that at least a brief war is necessary to remind Iran of US might and bend her to its will. So perhaps your prediction is right, but I sure hope not.

  5. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    The story I linked Aug.s 2, 6:53 pm was from Mehr, not PressTV (“Iran ready to discuss halting 20 percent enrichemnt if needs met: FM”), from July 12, 2012.

  6. James Canning says:

    Nasser,

    Re: Aug. 2, 2:08 pm question to FYI – - How could Iran terminate its clearly-expressed policy of not wanting nukes, and proceed to attempt to build nukes, without guaranteeing an attack?

  7. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You claim I “discount the value of human emotions” in assessing how and why foreign policy decisions etc are made. Not correct. Many times I have noted the emotional sustenance many Iranians achieve, from enriching uranium and “defying” the West (and the P5+1 which of course includes China and Russia).

  8. James Canning says:

    Sakineh,

    Why would you promote the vicious propaganda of Michael Ledeen? He was one of the people who conspired, literally, to dupe George W. Bush about Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons programme, to set up illegal invasion of Iraq.

  9. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I did not say that the US “has no military option against Iran”. I said that sanctions will not bring about an overthrow of the government, and that an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would not cause an overthrow of the government.

    Are you equating Obama with Adolf Hitler?

    Please explain why you think Iran needs to enrich uranium to 20% in order to preserve its independence and territorial integrity.

  10. James Canning says:

    Photi,

    Why don’t you tell me how the people of Iran benefit from larger stockpiles of 20 percent uranium? You seem not to notice that I oppose any attack on Iran and see it as foolish for Iran to make it easier for the enemies of Iran to orchestrate an attack.

  11. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    Good idea, that Iran should double its exports of “non-oil products”. Almost entire exports of Iran are energy-related.

  12. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    Are you seriously arguing that the US will attack Pakistan? And that Israel will attack Turkey? What would be the reason for either attack? Ludicrous.

  13. Rd. says:

    Unknown Unknowns says:

    Rd: I’m surprised at your posting a link to the farcical and misleading article by the completely uninformed and idiotic Chris Cook without a word or two of caution

    didn’t know Cook, but was curious to know why he was promoting rafsanjani. thanks for the info.

  14. fyi says:

    Rd. says: August 3, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Rubbish!

  15. fyi says:

    Unknown Unknowns says: August 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

    You are wrong about the Bazari; they serve a very useful role of distributors of goods in Iran.

    If anything, they role must be expanded to encompass services as well; such as insurance, re-insurance, and venture capital.

    Yes, they have their faults but at least they are not draining state coffers; unlike the government-owned enterprises.

  16. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Rd: I’m surprised at your posting a link to the farcical and misleading article by the completely uninformed and idiotic Chris Cook without a word or two of caution. So I will provide the precautionary note, if you don’t mind.

    The economic situation in Iran is at melting point, and the key constituency of the “bazaari” merchants and businesses – whose support was instrumental in Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s ascension to the presidency – have now almost completely abandoned him. This is simply delusional. The bazaris ARE the problem of the Iranian economy. They are what the Marxists used to call ‘comprador capitalists’, not producing anything or adding any value to the economy, but leeching off the population by taking haram-portioned cuts on imports of foreign goods that do nothing but perpetuate imperial penetration of local markets and the continuation of hegemonic economic controls which stranglehold the Ahmadinejad administration has been fighting for 7 years to break. The bazaris were never an “instrumental support” of Achmanimebob. They supported the has-been treacherous and discredited Rafsanjani-Khatami-Mousavi faction.

    “Comprador capitalism … in developing countries, in which a small local elite is acting mainly in the interests of foreign capitalists, in return for a cut of the profits. The main features are that they export raw materials that the foreign interests covet, and import back manufactured goods to sell to the locals— instead of developing a local industry that would process the raw materials into goods domestically. The term comes from a “comprador”, or “buyer”, who during the colonial era was a native hired by [Gavner James "20%" Saheb or other] European company [moguls] to serve as their local representative.”

    There is speculation in Tehran that the wily and pragmatic former president Akbar Hashem Rafsanjani will shortly – at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration of the end of Ramadan later this month – be mandated by the Supreme Leader to negotiate a solution to Iran’s nuclear problems. What a prat. Rafsanjani is nothing but an embarrasment not just to the imam of our great ommat [nation], but to the nation as a whole. His performance during the fitna of ’88 sealed his political fate. He is persona non grata. Why don’t people like Cook talk to anyone other than those pathetic Westoxicated wet behind the ears “greenies” to get their information? Or are they just presstitute soldiers in the information war?

    Rafsanjani’s star has been rising as rapidly as President Ahmadinejad’s is descending. So on the one hand, we have seen Rafsanjani being restored to a more influential role as head of Iran’s Expediency Council, which is one of three key Iranian political institutions. On the other hand, we see death sentences for a multi-billion dollar banking fraud being handed out to individuals associated with factions in the presidential camp. The first sentence is just whacko. The second sentence implies that Iran is a Banana Republic with corrupt government officials and a judiciary that acts on the whim of “The Boss”. Absurd. There was financial chicanery and theft in the order of a few billion dollars in the banking system, and the 4 criminals with the largest roles were given death sentences, with life or very heavy sentences for the others, so as to discourage this sort of behavior; unlike in the Banana Republic of the Squirming Weasels wherein this kind of thing is the systemic norm and the criminals Larry Summers and Tim Geithner and Ben Bernake are given promotions, and the Weasels still don’t get it.

    Wake up and smell the nano-chordite, beebol!!

  17. BiBiJon says:

    Essential Reading for James (you know what) Canning
    http://sjlendman.blogspot.it/2012/08/illegitimate-sanctions-on-iran.html

    Also, when/if US navy moves out of PG, it will be in prep for attack on Pakistan, much as when apartheid pipsqueak’s F15s take flight their most likely target will be Turkey, leading to that country’s departure from NATO.

  18. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:

    ” How Iran could double its oil output”

    James, how about Iran doubling the export of its non-oil products! You are a funny guy, still stuck in the early 1900′s. Time to remove your colonial lenses.

  19. Photi says:

    James Canning says:
    August 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    “Iran’s enriching to 20 percent, and stockpiling ever more 20% U, is the greater part of the problem. Are you in effect urging Iran to continue to stockpile, to make a US attack much more probable? And for what?”

    The greater part of the problem is that the US is negotiating in bad faith.

    If 20% were the problem, an agreement would have already been found (it WAS found, in Brazil), but since 20% is not the real issue from the US and Zionist perspectives, the US continues to sabotage any progress towards agreement on 20% that may otherwise be made.

    The real issue is hegemony.

    Get that James? The international community is looking at 20%, the US and the Zionist entity are looking at domination. You are asking Iran to give into the delusion. Why should Iran be held responsible for imperial delusions?

    James, your constant repetition on this site is suggestive of a sock puppet PR campaign. Are you working for somebody, or are you here of your own accord?

  20. Right on every count Jack! This is your best post yet!

  21. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Don says, “All US naval vessels would have to exit the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman prior to any attack or else they would be sitting ducks for Iranian cruise missiles and anything else Iran could throw at them.”

    Yes, but they cannot move Ras Tanura out of the Persian Gulf, and as Richard Hack would say, the elites calling the shots don’t care about the lives of the sailors or the cost of the ships. Richard would say that they don’t care about the world economy either, but that is where he and I parted company. Its *their* economy, *their* sheep that they are fleecing, and so it is indeed as Jay has it, which is the principle of mutually assured destruction, which still leaves the irrational element, as well as the Unknown Unknowns, of course.

    And not only would the super-tanker berths of Ra’s Tanura be destroyed, severing the West’s jugular vein, Iran would in short order arm the Shi’a in Qatif as well as in Asir (historical Yemen): it would be the end of “Saudi” Arabia. Furthermore, all the havoc that the Salafists are wrecking on Iraq, Syria and Lebanon under the protective umbrella of their sociopathic Western patrons will be wrought in equal measure in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar (whose oil and gas infrastructure will have been destroyed in the first day or two), Jordan, and of course, Israel. Like the Bussed-in Professor said, time is on out side, and if the hegemon’s interests are not depleted by attrition, they will disappear much faster in the event of all-out hostilities.

    Wa Allahu ya’lam. [And God knows (best)]

  22. fyi says:

    Don Bacon says: August 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    For the scenario that Dr. Cordersman describes, US will have to gather all her air assets from around the world and also induce the Southern Persian Gulf Arab states to attack Iran.

    The Southern Persian Gulf states that are allies of US will be attacked by Iran.

    They had been warned many years ago.

  23. fyi says:

    Jay says: August 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I agree with you that US has no military option against Iran.

    But I also think that it is quite possible that very many US leaders and planners have fallen off the deep end; degenerated, so to speak.

    How could US hope to maintain hegemony from Hindukush to Mediterranean Sea when she is universally loathed and despised by that population?

    Even the Communists in Eastern Europe had a psotive program in 1946 – not so US in the Middle East in 2012.

  24. fyi says:

    James Canning says: August 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Yes, Lonodn got smashed during the Blitz; would it have been nicer if UK had made nice with Hitler?

    USSR lost 25 million people; may be if they had just surrendered they could have had wonderful productive lives as slaves to the Master Race.

    Too bad they did not have you to advise the late Joseph Stalin.

    You discount the power of emtions in huma affairs; that is the flaw.

    You are like many other Englishmen; your own histroy is rational, every one eles’es a fool’s errand.

  25. fyi says:

    Nasser says: August 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    US will not be able to afford the military cost of defending Israel after war with Iran.

    Her leaders, however, will make all the usual noises about eternal support to Israel but the reality will be quite different.

  26. fyi says:

    James Canning says: August 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    The War, when and if it comes, will not alter the strategic situation.

    It will cause the death of 60,000 Iranians, 6,000 Americans, the wrecking of world ecomomy for a few years, and nuclearization of Iran.

    This war will have nothing to do with 20% and everything to do with US-EU desire to destroy Iranian power.

    Iran must have the capacity to build nuclear weapons in order to survive as a unitary coherent state.

    The 60,000 dead over a 4-year long period of war are acceptble losses.

    Iran lost 285,000 soldiers in the war against Iraq.

    A 10-kiloton nuclear explosion over Tehran will kill and maine ten times as many in 5 minutes.

    US does not have a military option against Iran; but that she is also too degenrated that one could discount stupidity on the part of her leaders.

  27. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    Just came out of the woodwork to say, I told you so. Well, I did, here , here and here.
    Especially in response to James’ 20% squirts (glad to see not much has changed in my absence).
    It has never been about nuclear (percentages), oil, human rights, terrorism, or anything else. It HAS always been about Full-spectrum dominance and hegemony.
    Here is the arch-neocon Michael Ledeen saying as much and calling for regime change from within by support from without, because he realizes that force is not an option: “In short, the nuclear program is not the central issue in Iran policymaking — defending the United States and its allies from Iranian terrorists and their proxies is. To meet that goal, Washington must replace the Islamic Republic’s regime” Read more here: Tehran Takedown – How to Spark an Iranian Revolution
    In the mean time Iran will toil away whittling at international banking/commerce/insurance/economies creating alternatives to Western created institutions (SWIFT anyone?) by which the West subjugates the rest of the world because of their control over them. So, yes, sanctions are good for Iran because it has taught Iranians how to fight back and rely on their brain power when the sale of their resources is hampered by outside meddling. Iran will keep up the appearances and show interest in nuclear talks as if it was going somewhere, but Iranians surely know it is NOT.
    Why the woodwork? Well, it was retrenchment mechanism on my part, self exile if you will, for what I felt were inappropriate comments here by me. Also, I realized that I wasn’t contributing in a meaningful way, i.e. seeing this (US/Iran relationship) as an intractable problem that we will see last for an unforeseeable future. That is to say, US’ calculations will not change before or after the elections and regardless of who is elected. As I’ve said previously, it’s boots on the Iranian neck to squeeze the life blood out of her by Uncle Sucker or empire for rent (nod to Kaveh Afrasiabi) and her cronies. All the levers of power in the US have been outsourced to a foreign entity. Until Uncle Sucker wakes up from his deep slumber, there won’t be a solution.
    Now, back to the woodwork…

  28. Nasser says:

    James Canning,

    “There is ZERO chance the US would “abandon” Israel due to expense of a war with Iran.”

    - This is one time I wholly agree with you.

  29. Don Bacon says:

    @James Canning
    on 20%
    Sorry, “A source close to the Iranian delegation told Press TV” does not qualify as evidence of an Iran position.
    on defense expenditures
    Sorry, “the US spends more than 100 times as much money on weapons, ships, etc etc, than Iran” is meaningless when one considers that one or two million-dollar cruise missiles can sink a ten billion dollar aircraft carrier with a crew of 5,000.

    July, 2006
    According to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sources, the attack was conducted by Chinese C-802. Apparently, two missiles were launched toward the Israel Navy Ship (INS) Hanit (Spear), SAAR V class corvette patrolling the Lebanese coast 16 kilometers from the shore. The attack was a coordinated, simultaneous “high/low” attack – the first “high” missile passed over the Israeli ship. Missing the target, it continued flying, hitting and sinking a civilian Egyptian ship cruising 60 kilometers from the shore. The second missile followed a sea-skimming flight profile hitting the Israeli vessel at the stern, killing four sailors and setting the flight deck on fire and crippling the propulsion systems inside the hull. Surviving the potentially devastating attack INS Hanit returned to Ashdod naval base for repairs.//
    Those missiles were sent on their way by Hezbollah. Cruise missiles are more accurate now and Iran is well-stocked with them.

  30. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    “Iran ready to discuss halting 20 percent enrichment if needs met: FM”

    http://www.payvand.com/news/12/jul/1109.html

    July 12, 2012 announcement by Ali Akbar Salehi that if Iran obtains fuel for research reactors, it could end 20 percent enrichment.

  31. James Canning says:

    I recommend “Israel and American Exceptionalism”, by Daniel Larison:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/israel-and-american-exceptionalism

    (Aug. 2, 2012)

    Helps explain Romney’s near-fanatical “pro-Israel” stance.

  32. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran’s enriching to 20 percent, and stockpiling ever more 20% U, is the greater part of the problem. Are you in effect urging Iran to continue to stockpile, to make a US attack much more probable? And for what?

    Lebanon got smashed by Israel in 2006 due to actions taken by an entity that obviously was not the government of Lebanon. Iran, on the other hand, can stop enriching to 20 percent, even if that causes some sensitive issues of pride, etc etc etc.

  33. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    Re: your Aug. 2nd, 3:30 pm post – - You argue Iran may as well be dead, if it makes a deal with the West and stops enriching to 20 percent? This approaches nonsense.

  34. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    PressTV June 18, 2012: “20% uranium enrichment not on table forever: Iran”:

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/06/18/246788/iran-20-not-on-table-forever/

  35. James Canning says:

    Karl..

    Iranian leaders involved with the nuclear programme have said a number of times that the West should allow Iran to buy TRR fuel, and that Iran is willing to end enrichment to 20% – - meaning, ending enrichment above 5% level (maximum for fuel for nuclear power plants).

    The Daily Telegraph, June 25th: “The West suspects Iran of seeking to make nuclear weapons under the guise of an energy programme and wants it to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity…” (“William Hague warns of intesified Iran sanctions”)

  36. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    I assume you are aware that the US spends more than 100 times as much money on weapons, ships, etc etc, than Iran.

  37. James Canning says:

    Nasser, fyi,

    There is ZERO chance the US would “abandon” Israel due to expense of a war with Iran.

  38. Dan Cooper says:

    Off topic

    Watch Murat Kurnaz, a man formerly imprisoned at Guantánamo, and CCR Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher together address why accountability for torture is critical:

    http://www.ccrjustice.org/get-involved/action/demand-accountability-u.s.-torture

    Ten years have passed since Bush administration lawyers drafted the infamous”torture memos” that provided legal cover for U.S. officials to torture individuals in U.S. detention.

    No senior government officials have ever been held accountable for torture–despite the fact that it has been well-documented that in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks, high-level U.S. officials committed, ordered, directed, authorized, condoned, planned and otherwise aided and abetted, or failed to prevent or punish, serious violations of international law, including torture

  39. Nasser says:

    fyi,

    “One consequence of the US War against Iran will be abandonment of Israel by US; she cannot afford the cost of keeping Israel safe any longer.”

    - That is certainly an exaggeration. I think a war with Iran would probably be quite popular here in the US.

  40. Don Bacon says:

    @Jay
    Almost all of the US naval presence will move out or reach of the majority of Iran’s threats
    That’s one key element. All US naval vessels would have to exit the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman prior to any attack or else they would be sitting ducks for Iranian cruise missiles and anything else Iran could throw at them. In other words, the US Navy bragging about how many ships they’ve got in the Gulf is disingenuous.

    A large naval movement away from Iran would give Iran some “breathing room” and would allow plenty of time for final war preparations. Also it would put US naval air assets that much further away from their targets.

  41. Jay says:

    fyi says:
    August 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I have mentioned “simulation” outcomes in the past based on various war scenarios and as far as I am aware there are no substantial changes to the parameters of potential conflict between US and Iran.

    There is always a non-zero probability that US may choose to go to war – effectively discounting or disregarding the conflict outcome estimates. However, based on the history of US action in the past 15 years this is not a likely scenario. An accidental escalation is the most significant risk.

    In simulations I am familiar with, the most critical parameter is the Iranian response: subdued vs. calibrated vs. all out. In all scenarios, the superior capability of the US military will destroy Iran’s military and industrial infrastructure in weeks. Almost all of the US naval presence will move out or reach of the majority of Iran’s threats, but economic and politically sensitive targets will remain highly vulnerable. An all out response by Iran, targeting economic and political elements of the adversary (part of the 4th generation war fighting doctrine) will have a devastating impact on the US and world economy. This has been referred to as a form of mutually assured devastation of the economic nature. The probability for a global economic depression (on the average) as a consequence is larger than 60%!

    Iran’s reference to “closing the Strait of Hormuz” should be interpreted as “closing or disrupting the flow of energy”. An unsourced piece of information floating around back in May 2012 suggested that in back-channel communications between Iran and US the Iranians have made it clear that their strategy will be maximum all-out response as early as feasible. This scenario places a “lock” on Iran war planners because the outcome cannot be “cost’ed”.

  42. Karl.. says:

    James,

    Iran have said they could buy 20% at some times but they dont say under which conditions, also they have never claimed to permanently cease above 5% enrichment. Iran have time after time urged the US to respect their right to enrichment, the right to enrich doesnt end with 5% and Iran will never accept to become dependent on other states for their enrichment (or any other significant topics generally), especially not states like US and Israel.

  43. Don Bacon says:

    May 27, 2012
    TEHRAN — Iran’s nuclear chief. . . said on state television on Sunday that the country would not halt its production of higher-grade uranium, suggesting that the Iranian government was veering back to a much harder line after talks in Baghdad with the West last week ended badly.
    The official, Fereydoon Abbasi, said there would be no suspension of enrichment by Iran, the central requirement of several United Nations Security Council resolutions. He specifically said that applied to uranium being enriched to 20 percent purity.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/world/middleeast/iran-wont-halt-production-of-higher-grade-uranium.html

  44. Don Bacon says:

    @ fyi
    Cordesman: “. . .make it clear to Iran that it has no successful options” is a plea for peace? When Iran has done nothing wrong? When the fifty-year US/UK campaign against Iran is based on lies? The peace of the grave to a nation with sovereign rights.

  45. fyi says:

    Nasser says: August 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Iran will survive the way Leabnon has survived years of war with Israel.

    You have to look at the statements of Dr. Marandi and Dr. Cordesman as please for peace that is falling on deaf ears.

    One consequence of the US War against Iran will be abandonment of Israel by US; she cannot afford the cost of keeping Israel safe any longer.

  46. fyi says:

    James Canning says: August 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Iran can stop enrichment – completely.

    The war still could commence.

    This is not about 20% or anything else.

  47. Don Bacon says:

    @James Canning
    “I will repeat my comment: you are “dead wrong” to argue that Iran simply is not willing to end enrichment to 20 percent. Numerous statements from the Iranian government signalled a willingness to end such enrichment.”
    It is normally good, sensible blogging practice, when one’s claims are questioned, to back them up with evidence, as I did, but which you have failed to do. Merely repeating one’s unsubstantiated comments don’t lend them further credence, instead they make them less credulous, don’t they.

  48. humanist says:

    Bravo Mohammed Marandi, Bravo Leveretts!

    Let me tell why I wholeheartedly cheer for them.

    I remember decades ago the Leftist Italian Red Brigade kidnaped an American General and threatened to kill him. At the time that was a real big News. A sizeable bunch of US experts were sent to Italy to achieve the freedom of their fellow American. The group was headed by a tough General who was known to believe something like “absolutely with money you can buy everyone, only at one end some are very cheap and some others on the opposite end are not so cheap”.

    He offered one million US dollars for any information that could lead towards the rescue of the captured man. In those days that amount of cash was lots of money. The lure worked. Soon one of the Reds betrayed his comrades and the kidnapped General was freed.

    Everyone can be bought?. Many do not agree with such definite Generality. In every society there are a few who are not for sale regardless of the price. Among them some are not for sale for reasons such as stubbornness, zealousness or deep personal commitments. Some others on the other hand are nor for sale by selfless reasons such as humanism or just a deep sense of honesty and integrity.

    Guss Freeman belongs to the latter group. So are Leveretts and few known or unknown others in USA. Definitely there are similar number of souls in Iran too who deserve the deepest level of respect from those who do not dwell in a shallow animalistic and materialistic world.

    In my view Mohammad Marandi is also one of them. He was a volunteer in Iran-Iraq war. He was wounded by Iraqi chemical weapons….and he has devoted his life, his astuteness to exposing the debauchery and evilness of extremely powerful psychopathic entities, to stopping the unnecessary wars, to promotion of justice and so on.

    In case no war with Iran materializes, these honorable individuals are the ones who, regardless of their tiny number and possession of very limited resources, unselfishly, courageously and magnanimously fought the evil warmongers who had enormous wealth and assets in their disposal.

    In these very dark days when the rabid dogs are thirsty for more blood, the above valiant individuals are the ones who undoubtedly will shine forever while those who seek hegemony, wars and destructions are destined to everlastingly arouse contempt and abhorrence in the minds of the peace-loving civilized human beings.

  49. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    I will repeat my comment: you are “dead wrong” to argue that Iran simply is not willing to end enrichment to 20 percent. Numerous statements from the Iranian government signalled a willingness to end such enrichment. Apparently you think Iran should refuse to end enrichment to 20 percent, in the expectation that the US will not attack because the cost of attacking Iran would be too high. Dnagerous thinking, on your part.

  50. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    You ask “what’s the big deal?” about Iran’s continuing enrichment of uranium, given that the US intelligence community continues to say there is no evidence the Iranian government has decided to build nukes?

    Yet FYI now predicts war within six months, when days ago he foresaw many years of continuing hostility between the West and Iran, but not open war.

  51. Nasser says:

    fyi,

    How can Iran survive a confrontation with the US without nuclear weapons?

  52. Don Bacon says:

    @ Señor Veinte Porciento –
    “What basis do you have for your contention Iran in its negotiations with the P5+1 only pretended to be willing to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent. You are simply dead wrong on this point.”
    Apparently Iran is not willing to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent.
    – some quotes from Cheryl Rofer, July 10, 2012 –
    The second part of Iran’s position paper is headed “Reviewing and Assessing the Proposal of 5+1.”
    The PowerPoint slides from last week’s meeting are now available and also include the basis for Iran’s claim to an inalienable right to enrich.
    (Thanks to Christian Science Monitor for making the PowerPoint slides available.)

    Unfortunately, the P5+1’s position paper is not available, so it is impossible to compare what it says with the Iranian rebuttal. Context is important, and it is missing from the truncated quotes in both the paper and the slides, although the slides have somewhat more material.
    One of the points that is made in this connection is that Fordow is under IAEA monitoring and supervision. Therefore, material does not need to be transferred out of the country.
    What is being done at Fordow? Some Iranian points:
    –In Fordo there are other activities which are not related to 20% enrichment.
    –None of the equipments and items used, especially the one to collect enriched material, neither the design nor the system can be used to collect highly enriched materials [HEU].
    –The main purpose of Fordow facility is to protect it against threats, but it is also being used for 20% enrichment, R&D activities, labs, storage places, etc.

    Fordow is being used for 20% enrichment, R&D, and storage. It is a protected backup facility to allow continuity of enrichment activities in case of attack. It is neither commercial nor on a military base, and the enrichment activities cannot be modified for higher levels of enrichment. . . The fact that there is a general movement around the world to convert research reactors [e.g. TRR] to 3.5% enriched uranium is ignored.

    It appears that something in the P5+1 proposal, which may have to do with recommending Iranian projects to the IAEA, has struck the Iranians wrong. Their position, stated in this section, is that provision of medical isotopes [i.e. 20% EU] and cooperation in nuclear projects is guaranteed in the same way their right to enrich is. This is a difference from the P5+1 and IAEA positions.//end Rofer comments
    http://nucleardiner.com/archive/item/more-on-iran-s-position-paper-part-2
    So I guess I’m not “simply dead wrong on this point.” Not even 20% wrong, I’d say.

  53. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    You linked a piece by Sreeram Chandra (Hindustan Times): Iranian’s “are stoically preparing for a long spell of confrontation with the West without caving in to the latter’s demands to halt uranium enrichment..” In fact, Iran has made clear it is willing to stop producing 20 percent uranium, provided enriching to 5% or lower is accepted. Israel and the Israel lobby want no enrichment. The Republicans in the US, by trumpeting their support for Israel (in effort to gain electoral advantage), wrecked Obama’s effort help the Palestinians and made it impossible for Obama to accept Iranian enrichment to 5% (at least openly).

  54. fyi says:

    Don Bacon says: August 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    February 2013 is the most likely time for US War against Iran; in my opinion.

  55. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You in effect continue to claim that Iran needs to stockpile 20 percent uranium in order to “preserve its strategic autonomy”. If fact, such stockpiling only greases the skids for enemies of Iran trying to set up an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The Financial Times makes this point very clear (as in comments by James Blitz July 30th at FT.COM/blogs).

  56. James Canning says:

    Bussed-In Basiji,

    I of course agree with you completely, that sanctions against Iran have ZERO chance of causing the overthrow of the government of Iran. A US attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would not cause the overthrow of the government either.

  57. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I have said many times on this site that Iran will not be allowed to continue to stockpile 20 percent uranium. Full stop. I’m glad you now see this is an accurate assessment of the situation.

  58. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    You have said more than once that Iran enjoys “hegemony” in the Middle East. How? Hamas backs the insurgents in Syria? How does this help the Assad government to maintain power? Iranian leaders have assumed that Hamas will act in its own interests, even if that does not accord with Iranian policy on a given issue.

  59. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    The US did not attack Iran because the 2007 NIE on Iran blocked it. Neocons (and others) ever since have been for revision of this NIE (which was renewed in 2010).

    Bussed-In Basiji said something to the effect of “bring it on” in reference to war between Iran and the US.

  60. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    What basis do you have for your contention Iran in its negotiations with the P5+1 only pretended to be willing to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent. You are simply dead wrong on this point.

  61. Don Bacon says:

    re: Anthony Cordesman (h/t fyi)
    Let’s look at Cordesman’s three options:
    1. The first is to reshape the focus of negotiations around clear U.S. redlines. If we really mean we have a military option and will act on it, we need to be far less ambiguous. Iran needs to know there are real limits to how long it can talk and stall.

    comment: There current redlines are somewhat fluid, but they seem to have a solid base — Iran with nukes, either prtend ones (as with Iraq) or real ones. The problem is not redlines it has been that the intelligence community has repeatedly said that Iran has not made the decision to build nukes, and hasn’t done so. So what’s the big deal.

    2. The second action is to make it clear to Iran that it has no successful options. There are many ways in which U.S. analysts with official connections can suggest out how easy it would be to escalate to the point of destroying Iran’s refineries and power grid, suppressing its air defenses, and reacting to any low level of asymmetric attack by destroying key Iranian military objectives.

    comment: Iran has been threatened with attack for at least six years now. Nevertheless Iran has continued to expand its nuclear program, as well as its industrial capacity. The Iran military officers charged with responding to such an attack have repeatedly promoted their abilities to defend Iran, and have demonstrated some of them. Iran has dealt with a US-supported punishing war before. It has the missiles, submarines and mines, and operatives in other places (Hezbollah) to punish any attackers. US installations in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan are also vulnerable.

    3.The third option is to put the best possible incentives on the table for Iran to accept a negotiated solution in ways that allow it to claim a kind of victory and save face. Preventing some form conflict or war does not have to be a zero-sum game where Iran has to lose. The United States can offer its own form of a grand bargain that gives Iran a clear end to sanctions, along with trade and economic incentives.

    comment: The basic dispute is over ME hegemony. Iran has it and US & Israel want it. That can’t be negotiated. Trade and economic incentives? Iran is in Asia and will trade with the growing Asian economy, as the Western states crumble economically. Europe first, and soon.

    So much for Anthony Cordesman. But he has to keep his seat at the US imperialism table.

  62. fyi says:

    BiBiJon says: August 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Mr. Cordesman suggestions for avaoiding war are clearly not going to be followed by US leaders.

    As the Leveretts have observed, US is going for hegemomy in the Middle East (or what her planners conceive as such) with the mini-World War in Syria.

    Once their plan fails in Syria, they will be ripe for war against Iran – they are fast destroying other options.

    It will be interesting to see the shape of the world after the US-Iran War; say in 2020.

  63. Fiorangela says:

    Unknown Unknowns says: August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am –

    “thousands or tens of thousands of the best that Weaselistan has to offer spend years getting doctorates from Georgetown” –

    Georgetown Eyeing a Judaics Center in Bid To Boost Image Jewish Daily Forward, January 24, 2003:

    “In an effort that could help burnish its spotty image in the Jewish community, Georgetown University, a prestigious Jesuit institution with a prominent center for Arab studies, is moving toward establishing a “Center for the Study of Jewish Civilization.” . . .

    While it is said to have the largest number of Jewish students of any American Catholic university — with 400 to 500 Jewish undergraduates — some members of the Jewish campus community say that additional Jewish studies offerings are sorely needed.

    Some also feel that the university’s offerings on the Middle East are often slanted against Israel. The university is home to a renowned School of Foreign Service, which includes a Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and a Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. The Arab studies center, in particular, has been a source of rhetoric and programming that many in the campus Jewish community have found inflammatory.

    The center is “effectively a lobby for Arab causes in general and the Palestinian cause in particular,” said Middle East scholar Martin Kramer, author of “Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America” and a visiting professor in Georgetown’s government department from 1995 to 1996. But Samer Shehata, acting director of Arab studies academic programs at Georgetown, called Kramer’s characterization “absurd.”

    Kramer is not alone, however, in expressing concern about the academic climate at Georgetown when it comes to the Middle East. A December 9, 2001, memorandum regarding the need for a Jewish studies center, from the university’s senior Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Harold White, to government professor Robert Lieber, urged Georgetown “to create a more positive image for itself within the Jewish community.”

    “The Jewish student body at Georgetown often feels victimized by the reality that there exist so few resources for presenting Judaism as a civilization on campus,” stated the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Forward. “In the classroom, as well as in Red Square [a central campus gathering spot], they become targets from the overflow of the Middle East conflict in the University.” . . .

    Yossi Shain, a Georgetown government professor who said that he is the proposed Jewish studies center’s “designated head,” insisted that the center would not be established “as a counterbalance to any center or in competition with any center” at Georgetown. He said it is “intended to be an academic center and a public podium for the study of Jewish life for a variety of aspects — religion, politics, culture.” He said the center would be “very important” by virtue of its location at a “Jesuit school that has great interest in the exchanges and dialogue between cultures.”

    Shain, who previously headed Tel Aviv University’s political science department, said that the center is “something that is happening, no doubt about it.” Shain said that the center would have permanent faculty as well as visiting fellows, but he referred questions about specifics, such as whether the center would offer degrees, to O’Donnell.”

    = = =
    Based at the Jesuit University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service,

    “the Program for Jewish Civilization (PJC) was established in September 2003 by the School of Foreign Service under the leadership of Georgetown’s Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Harold White, and Georgetown professors Robert J. Lieber, an expert on international affairs and American foreign policy, and Yossi Shain, a leading scholar on Jewish Diaspora communities. The PJC is now directed by Professor Jacques Berlinerblau and Assistant Director Melissa Weinberg Spence, with a 24 member Executive Committee led by Professor Robert Lieber.”

    ===
    Balancing the Bias: Georgetown’s Program for Jewish Civilization, by Cinnamon Stillwell for Campus Watch, Feb 2, 2009, quoting from an article in Jerusalem Post,

    ” What can be done to reverse the failures of Middle East studies in North America? Students today are subjected to radical views of the Middle East by professors who seldom brook dissent. Georgetown’s Program for Jewish Civilization (PJC) offers an alternative for students seeking to avoid the academic weaknesses that have so infected Middle East studies.

    These analytical shortcomings are well documented: politicized curricula, agit prop substituting for solid teaching, and an unwillingness to ask difficult questions about Middle Eastern cultures are only some of many faults to plague the field in recent decades.

    Georgetown University presents a case-study of this failure. Awash in Saudi money and heavily influenced by the late Edward Said’s ideology of ubiquitous Orientalism, Georgetown is perhaps the most Wahhabi-friendly university in America. Although school administrators and many in the media consider donations from Saudis and other Arab nations to American universities as generous support to schools that have educated their elites, these gifts in fact support work that often turns a blind eye to the region’s systemic problems in favor of skewering American and Israeli interests. . . .”

    ===
    May 3, 2009 “As we close out another great academic year at PJC, we are delighted to relay the news that professor Michael Oren has been selected to be Israel’s next ambassador to the United States,” said Jacques Berlinerblau, associate professor and PJC director. “The students and faculty of the PJC and School of Foreign Service will miss him dearly, but we congratulate him on yet another milestone in an already distinguished career.”
    ===

    Middle East Policy Expert Dennis Ross to Join Jewish Civilization Program

    “March 5 2012 Dennis Ross . . .will join the faculty of the Program of Jewish Civilization (PJC) this fall.

    “We are thrilled to have a public servant of Ambassador Ross’s caliber return to the PJC where he will impart his vast knowledge to the next generation of diplomats, Foreign Service officers and Middle East policy analysts,” says Jacques Berlinerblau, PJC director and associate professor of Jewish civilization. . . .
    Ross returns to Georgetown and the Program for Jewish Civilization (PJC) this fall after serving as visiting professor of Jewish civilization during the 2008 academic year and as an adjunct in PJC before that.”

  64. BiBiJon says:

    fyi says:
    August 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Why have you changed your mind?

    Cordesman’s long list of American military capabilities are well known. I assume Iranian military intelligence already knows the ‘quantity’ as well as the quality of American military assets and the fact that once war starts, US military assets will be used punishingly, mercilessly.

    Iran continues not to be scared.

    Nothing new here.

  65. fyi says:

    All:

    Based on this, I have changed my opinion.

    I now think that US will go to war with Iran with a probability larger than 50%.

    http://csis.org/publication/iran-preventing-war-making-it-credible

    I suspect after US elections…

  66. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Patrick,
    Neither sanctions nor a military attack will lead to the end of the Islamic Republic, that’s the bottom line.

  67. BiBiJon says:

    Irshad says:
    August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Sanctions on Iran – Good or bad?

    Also worth a read: http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/ColumnsOthers/Iran-will-not-cave-in/Article1-906662.aspx

  68. fyi says:

    Irshad says: August 2, 2012 at 9:34 am

    That France is willing to risk the solvency of Puegeot is indicative the extreme importance that EU (as well as US) attach to the destruction of Iranian strategic autonomy and power.

    Similar arrangements across borders existed before 1914 in Europe; they were destroyed during WWII and were not really reconstituted until middle of 1990s – longer than 4 generations.

    I would not be surprised if economic arrangements between Iran and EU are not resumed at any level close what obtained in 2001 for 80 years.

  69. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Tantawi shuts the parliament down, evicerates the presidency, and is appointed by Morsi’s prime minister as minister of defense. Now that IS revolutionary! I was wondering how that Weasel-act was going to play out.

  70. fyi says:

    Unknown Unknowns says: August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am

    The leaders of the United States think that they can win and do not need to be concerned about the costs of “winning”.

    They inherited those habits of thought from their predecessors who were winners of World War II.

    They will continue to do so until costs becomes unbearable an they would have exhausted the (enormous) margin of the United States in My Way or Highway schemes.

    One has to be patient – years or decades – I cannot estimate.

  71. BiBiJon says:

    Unknown Unknowns says:
    August 2, 2012 at 9:26 am

    “What does the observation of this vapid reality have to say in terms of predicting the future trajectory of that polity in the medium term (say 25-50 years from now)”

    Not meaning to add to any despondency, but here’s what Fiorangela wrote @ August 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Dr. Lustick’s assessment looks like boilerplate; looks thoughtless and unimaginative; looks like an attempt to satisfy the demand that Leslie Gelb conceded infects the US foreign policy community — careerism:

    ” My initial support for the war [in Iraq] was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility. We ‘experts’ have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we ‘perfect’ the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common—often wrong—wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.”

    The larger tragedy is that foreign policy “experts” like Lustick are influencing the next generation of American foreign policy makers. Thank goodness for Flynt and Hillary Leverett.

    —-

    Also, don’t miss this: http://www.salon.com/2012/08/01/chris_hayes_on_elite_failure/

  72. fyi says:

    Don Bacon says: August 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    The crucial observation by Ambassador Crocker, in practice, means that the Islamic Republic of Iran is now the de facto guarantor of lives of minorities in Syria agaisnt Wahabis and neo-Salafis.

  73. fyi says:

    Patrick Foy says: August 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    In fact, the historical experience shows that sanctions cannot destroy a state but perhaps change its policies – Libya and South Africa come into mind.

    But the sanctions against Iran are aimed to destroy the Islamic Republic; just like those against Iran in 1953.

  74. Irshad says:

    James Canning this is for you:

    Sanctions on Iran – Good or bad?

    http://therealamirtaheri.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/sanctions-on-iran-good-or-bad.html

    Also, you assume that sanctions only hurt Iran – but the ongoing fiasco at Puegeot car manufacturers (a French company) is a direct result of France sanctioning Iran.

    Last year over 400,000 Peugeots were sold in Iran, a market worth over $800million – the largest market outside of France. A lot of the parts for the car was both exported to Iran and imported from Iran. Thanks to the illegal EU sanctions all this has been cut! Spend some time at the above blog and you will see what I am talking about.

    And guess what, as Peugeot kicked itself out of Iran – its main competitor Renault has stepped in and will be operating in Iran (as well as Alfa Romeo).

  75. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Flynt-san says, “But the United States—even under the Obama Administration—does not want to do that, for recognizing Iran’s right to enrich implies recognizing the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political entity representing legitimate national interests.”

    Too true. My question to Flynt-san and the board, oh and to Nephew Pirouz too, is that why is there such a dearth of these kinds of observations? Why is the discourse so Gavneresque? It can’t be just the media… thousands or tens of thousands of the best that Weaselistan has to offer spend years getting doctorates from Georgetown and West Point and the Kennedy School of Government, etc. Are they just whores then?

    Those are important questions about the nature and reality of the New Atlantis polity. But another question is, What does the observation of this vapid reality have to say in terms of predicting the future trajectory of that polity in the medium term (say 25-50 years from now)

  76. BiBiJon says:

    imho says:
    August 2, 2012 at 5:07 am

    “I d like someone to explain me how Iran is the winner in the so called Arab Spring.
    I see it as a rise of sunni fundamentalism in the planned sunni shia battle
    Tactical understanding between Egypt and Iran doesn t count that much”

    I look forward to others taking up the question. In the meantime my answer is two fold.

    a) In a complex situation it is a rarity when a given event is directly, unadulteratedly good for anyone. One has to look at the net effects which needs you to put negative repercussions for your adversary in the possitive side of the ledger for yourself. It then becomes difficult to suggest the fall of Mubarak was in anyway ‘good’ for the west.

    b) If one looks at the 79′ Iranian revolution and the political order it ushered in Iran as a purely sectarian, shiite ‘thing’ then well more Sunni representative political orders in the region will not be a good thing. But, if you view Iran’s situation as a yearning for independence, and freedom from outside powers, then it is very likely that Egyptians will arrive at the same juncture, and find common cause with Iran albeit her Shiite non-Arabness.

  77. imho says:

    I d like someone to explain me how Iran is the winner in the so called Arab Spring.
    I see it as a rise of sunni fundamentalism in the planned sunni shia battle
    Tactical understanding between Egypt and Iran doesn t count that much

  78. BiBiJon says:

    Von Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory
    ======================================

    I was just wondering what causes statements like “Assad must go” or “no enrichment”, etc. Bear with me for a moment.

    Bertanalanffy’s work was explained by Laszlo as the new systems view of organized complexity which went “one step beyond the Newtonian view of organized simplicity” in reducing the parts from the whole, or in understanding the whole without relation to the parts.

    Bertalanffy made much of a feedback loop guiding a complex system’s adaptive processes as essential to survival. There are elements of Game Theory that dovetails Systems theory: e.g. an organism that can only adapt to temperature ranges of +/- 10% will soon be extinct in an environment that produces +/- 11% variability in ambient temperature.

    It would seem self-destructive to narrow acceptable outcomes to “Assad must go” and “no enrichment” when the ‘acceptable’ range of outcomes to one’s adversaries is much wider. Iran, Russia, and China can feasibly live with any number of eventualities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, whereas the US perpetually bets disproportionate amounts of blood, treasure and credibility on outcomes that are emphatically pronounced, but wholly unrealistic, e.g. the Switzerland-will-look-up-to-Afghanistan-as-a-model goal.

    What are US foreign policy mandarin’s feedback loops telling them? Where does their penchant for ludicrous grandiosity come from? With all the bridges for retreat on fire, where will the US go next?

  79. Lizz says:

    From Cyrus’s IranAffairs blog:

    The Parchin lie continues unabated, thanks to ISIS and David Albright.

    http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2012/08/the-parchin-lie-becomes-a-social-fact-through-mindless-repetiton-by-unqualified-idiots.html

  80. Unknown Unknowns says:

    During the inauguration of (another) massive petro-chemical complex, President Mahmoud “Bob’s Your Uncle” Akmanimebob and Minister for Oil Rostam Something or Other stated a couple of nights ago that by the end of the next 5-year plan, Iran will no longer export oil. By that time, all of the petro-chemical infrastructure currently under construction will be online, and it will be all Iran can do to feed their their combined voracious appetite for crude oil. In fact, Iran will have to increase oil production by 1 mbpd to do so, which they also stated is in the works. These plants will take that feedstock and spit out things like jet fuel, kerosene, diesel, gas (that’s “petrol” to you, Gavner, with purity standards exceeding the latest European one, which is Euro 5), fertilizer, PVC pellets, PVC pipes, etc. I get the feeling the timing of this cutback will coincide with Aramco’s shite hitting the Peak Oil fan.

    The Bussed-in Professor is on the money, as usual. Sanctions? We don’t need no shtinkin’ sanctions!

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming (and I use that word advisedly), starring Bibi the Rat and the ever-popular Uncle Weashole.

  81. Pirouz says:

    Fiorangela says:
    August 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Yes, thank goodness.

  82. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Full text of Supreme Leader’s speech to government officials a few days ago. A comprehensive and significant speech. Take the time to read it, it’s worth it.

    http://english.khamenei.ir//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1655&Itemid=4

  83. Don Bacon says:

    @ James Canning
    “Will Iran benefit from a complete breakdown in negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear programme? Do you agree with Bussed-In Basiji that war with the US would benefit Iran?”
    –There have not been, to my knowledge, any negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program. What there has been is politicians going through the motions, in both countries, knowing full well they weren’t going to give up anything. So “a complete breakdown in negotiations” is meaningless. If the for-show-only talks end, nobody will notice.
    –I don’t see where Bussed-In Basiji said that war with the US would benefit Iran. Could you give me a reference on that? I did see where BIB said that an attack on Iran would be a worse blunder for the US than its attack on Iraq, which was pretty bad. The worst US foreign policy decision ever, some have said. I agee with BIB on that. –A US attack on Iran would ultimately hurt the US more than Iran, which is why it hasn’t been done. Iran isn’t a patsy like Iraq was, and the US can’t invade Iran as it did Iraq. Without an invasion, boots on the ground, there is no hope of defeating Iran, and there is a lot of hurt that Iran could put on the US. It took Iran, what, three days to retaliate against Saudi Arabia for the Damascas bomb? Iran could hurt the US in many ways, in may places, which is why the US talk about attacking Iran has been just that, talk, for what — six years or so?
    –Current US stupidity includes supporting jihadis in Syria. Ambassador Crocker, nearing retirement, NYTimes:
    “I worry greatly that the minorities, the Alawis and the Christians, are going to be in for a very awful time,” he said, adding that he fears as well that if Muslim hard-liners take over, “the repercussions for Syria, for Lebanon and Iraq, I think, can be pretty serious.” (But Iran might like it.)

  84. Patrick Foy says:

    Dear Bus-in-Bas,

    I know Iran is different from Iraq. With respect to the U.S.-led sanctioning of both countries, however, there is congruence. Certainly the aim was/is the same: wreck the targeted country and bring about regime change, in that order. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a coup de grace. The country had already been wrecked. But the regime was still in place. Hence, the shell of a country had to be invaded.

    I do not pretend to know what is going to happen in Iran, but I can’t imagine that these harsh sanctions could be a good thing for Iran. I think we both agree, however, that there is nothing Tehran can do to stop the sanctioning.

    In June, I wrote on my website (www.PatrickFoyDossier.com): “The actual reason for a second war on Iraq was the simple fact that no regime change had occurred as a result of the sanctions in the interim. Saddam remained in power. My point is, even if Iran agrees tomorrow morning to everything Washington, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Paris, London and the IAEA are demanding, still the sanctions would continue in place. Why? Because the defiant regime in Tehran is still standing. It is standing up to Washington and Tel Aviv. It is contumacious.”

    Perhaps under Nietzsche’s prescription that what does not kill me makes me stronger, Iran will survive in the end. But the historical track record in this regard would seem to suggest otherwise.

    Hold,

    Patrick
    ====

  85. kooshy says:

    Gav James

    The real big losers for this recent European sanctions on Iran are the British maritime insurers, and you and Billy H both know that, sorry to bring this up chap, besides who knows because of this sanctions Iranians and others that see the threat to international commerce may even become a major maritime insurers if business is good, so if you want to stop this losing end for the Brit chaps, you guys need to start this attack you have been threatening Iranians with, like what the old timers say, put up or shut up, Iranians call the situation your country is “ Chobe Duo Sar Goiee” that means an “stick with shit on both ends” that can’t be handled

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-01/iran-oil-shipping-to-resume-as-insurers-step-in-corporate-india.html

  86. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    I was referring to current American stupidity in the Middle East. Obviously the removal of Saddam Hussein worked to the advantage of Iran. Will Iran benefit from a complete breakdown in negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear programme? Do you agree with Bussed-In Basiji that war with the US would benefit Iran?

  87. Don Bacon says:

    @James Canning
    “I don’t think Iran benefits from American stupidity in the Middle East.”
    Helloooooo!
    The US conversion of Iraq from a secular enemy of Iran which had invaded Iran in a war with hundreds of thousands of casualties, into an Islamic republic closely allied with Iran (and Syria) was obviously of benefit to Iran.
    What would you call that if not a benefit of American stupidity?
    Not only was that a direct benefit to Iran, it also raised Iran’s image in a tough neighborhood and won it the increased respect from BRICS and NAM, and served as a model for Egypt — also now converted in to an Iran ally.
    Many benefits, don’t you agree?

  88. Fiorangela says:

    Dr. Lustick’s assessment looks like boilerplate; looks thoughtless and unimaginative; looks like an attempt to satisfy the demand that Leslie Gelb conceded infects the US foreign policy community — careerism:

    ” My initial support for the war [in Iraq] was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility. We ‘experts’ have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we ‘perfect’ the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common—often wrong—wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.”

    The larger tragedy is that foreign policy “experts” like Lustick are influencing the next generation of American foreign policy makers. Thank goodness for Flynt and Hillary Leverett.

  89. Don Bacon says:

    Obviously the United States is the “The Most Destabilizing Nation in the World” since Iraq and Afghanistan, both destabilized by the U.S., lead in terrorist attacks according to the National Counterterrorism Center 2011 Report.

    from the recent 2011 NCTC Report:
    “Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year. More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly 56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities. Among this perpetrator group, al-Qa‘ida (AQ) and its affiliates were responsible for at least 688 attacks that resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, while the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan conducted over 800 attacks that resulted in nearly 1,900 deaths.
    Secular, political, and anarchist groups were the next largest category of perpetrators, conducting 2,283 attacks with 1,926 fatalities, a drop of 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2010.”
    Iran was not mentioned in the NCTC Report.
    http://www.nctc.gov/docs/2011_NCTC_Annual_Report_Final.pdf
    There are similar situations in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, to name just three more places destabilized by the U.S.
    Iran on the other hand hasn’t destabilized any country.

  90. James Canning says:

    ” How Iran could double its oil output”

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/05/21/markets/iran_oil/index.htm

  91. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    It is a nuclear dispute, and Russia and China want a diplomatic resolution of the dispute, in which Iran would stop enriching to 20 percent. This, of course, is not to say that Israel and supporters of Israel do not have an agenda outside the nuclear dispute.

  92. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    I don’t think Iran benefits from American stupidity in the Middle East.

    Israel of course would want sanctions against Iran, even if Iran enriched no uranium whatever. But getting UNSC approval for such sanctions would have been unlikely.

    I think you will concede that all the noise about Iran helps Israel to continue to oppress the Palestinians by deflecting world attention for the continuing occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

  93. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    How would Syrian enrichment of uranium have anything to do with whether insurgents tried to overthrow the government of that country?

  94. James Canning says:

    James Blitz, writing in the Financial Times July 30th (ft.com/rachmanblog, argued that if Iran continues to stockpile 20 percent uranium, “it will add hugely to international alarm – - and make the Iran nuclear dossier the major challenge for whoever is US president at the end of this year.”

  95. fyi says:

    James Canning says: August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    You wrote:

    “..very little benefit to Iran from such enrichment..”

    That is not true.

    It establishes Iran’s capabilities in nuclear field and thus help the survival of Iranian state.

    In the light of what has happened in Syria and is taking place there – this is even more so.

  96. Don Bacon says:

    @ James Canning
    Again, it is not at the core a nuclear dispute. You are wrong in claiming that it is. The sanctions have existed long before the concocted nuclear dispute which is bogus on its face because the purported problem — what the U.S. claims — are Iran’s “ambitions” and “illicit activities” and “defiance of the world community,” all of which are meaningless school-yard quality un-befitting a world power but the U.S. does it anyhow.

    If it were actually a nuclear dispute the U.S. wouldn’t be fabricating information and making nebulous claims. It is a dispute over ME hegemony. Iran has it and US & Israel want it.

    Leveretts: “. . .the United States. . .will almost certainly continue its current, failing, and ultimately corrosive attempt to reassert hegemony in the Middle East.” Iran says “thank you.”

  97. James Canning says:

    Bussed-In Basiji,

    What “hype” have I offered, at any time, regarding the effectiveness of the sanctions? Do you mean my comments that Iran would be richer and stronger today if it had not re-commenced enriching uranium? This seems fairly obvious.

  98. James Canning says:

    Bussed-in-Basiji,

    You welocme sanctions and apparently hope for war between the US and Iran. Your position is not shared by the government of Iran.

    I have noted many times that Israel and the Israel lobby are the tail wagging the American dog, etc etc.

    I see your pride in Iran’s technical achievement (re enriching uranium), but see very little benefit to Iran from such enrichment. Apart from boosting morale, etc.

  99. James Canning says:

    Karl..,

    Many times I have said the sanctions are counter-productive, unwise, etc etc. Their “legality” is an issue I personally find tedious.

  100. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Patrick Foy,
    Sanctions have been very beneficial for Iran, not “eviscerating”, “paralyzing” or whatever new word Bibi uses. Your comparison to Iraq 1991-2001 in this regard is weak. Completely different country, government system, and global situation. My suggestion is you (and James Canning) come to Iran and see “the sanctions” for yourself. Don’t believe the hype- especially if coming from James.

    Just to annoy James, let me point out that producing and stockpiling 20% enriched uranium is useful in itself. Over 10,000 locally produced centrifuges is a great scientific achievement in itself and worth any sanctions it might have had as a consequences. Got that James!

    A military strike would be historic and strategic “blunder” that would make the Iraq invasion look good. And you know how that went.

    In other words, please sanction us more and at least for another decade so we can complete our transformation from a country of importing traders to exporting industrialist engineers and also we welcome a stupid move such as attacking us which would give us the excuse we are waiting for to fundamentally transform the region and to get rid some domestic traitors.

    I hope that clarifies things for you.

  101. Jay says:

    Patrick Foy’s argument rains on the parade (or charade) or those who argue along the lines of James here!

    The key statement in the argument:

    “Washington can and is doing something about it, at the behest of Tel Aviv and its American Israel Lobby.”

    destroys the very notion proposed by some that it is actions by Iran that has led to the imposition of sanctions and heightened tensions. This specious argument relies on a clever (although as old as Plato) form of untruth-telling.

    Washington will do what it needs and wants to do. UK will follow its own flavor of whatever Washington has on the menu – although it is effectively the same meal. No compromise by Iran will be regarded as “enough” – because coexistence is not the goal.

  102. Karl.. says:

    James,

    In what way are Russia and China important? Russia, China’s voice about Iran compared to US and Israel is minimal. This is a Israel/US led effort against Iran. Russia and China cant change that. In reality this is a conflict waged by Israel primary and the US as the protector and enforcer of their wishes and goals.

    Also you did not answer my question earlier, do you think the sanctions are legal? Yes or no?

  103. fyi says:

    James Canning says: August 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    You think wrong.

    This is Mr. Obama’s war; he started it but he will not see its end.

    Even if elected to a second term…

  104. James Canning says:

    Patrick Foy,

    Indeed there was no need to invade Iraq in 2003. The neocons (and others) saw their chance to take out Saddam Hussein on false pretenses, and took it.

    You make an important point, as to whether Iran has weakened itself by in effect facilitating the bringing of more and more sanctions against itself.

    What value to Iran has flowed from stockpiling 20 percent uranium? I say ZERO. Such stockpiling is emotionally nourishing for many people wishing to “defy” the US.

  105. ToivoS says:

    I listened to an interview with an Indian power expert on the outages in India. She made the point that it was not a problem with aging infrastructure but rather reliable energy sources.

    Maybe a natural gas pipeline from Iran to India might help? In the face of major problems like this in India it seems only sensible that they are not going to be backing sanctions.

  106. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    Russia and China both favor a negotiated resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran and apparently both countries think Iran needs to stop enriching to 20 percent. You dismiss the importance of these two countries.

  107. Patrick Foy says:

    Professor Marandi states, inter alia: “The Iranians are not going to accept being a second-rate country…. So the Iranians will continue to enrich uranium within the framework of the NPT and international law. The United States cannot stop Iran from doing so.” Bravo for Iran! Admirable sentiments, but here’s the problem. Washington can and is doing something about it, at the behest of Tel Aviv and its American Israel Lobby.

    Washington is targeting Iran and, by default, the spineless Europeans are going along with it. Everyone knows that Tehran does not have nuclear weapons and is not working on producing and using them. So what? It does that matter. The repeated false assertions that Tehran does have such ideas is a wonderful cover story to institute economic sanctions. It is Iran which cannot stop Washington, Tel Aviv and the EU from installing these sanctions and keeping them installed. This circumstance could indeed transform Iran into a second-rate country, just like similar sanctions against Iraq transferred it into a nullity. There was no real reason for the 2003 invasion. Iraq had already been eviscerated via the sanctions. Now it’s Iran’s turn. That is the Neocon agenda, and it sure looks to me like it is working. In this respect, Obama=Bush=Cheney=Clinton. It is not fair, it is not right, in fact, it is totally grotesque and disgusting, but that’s the current state of U.S. foreign policy.

    Flynt states: “American commentators willfully overlook the fact that, according to reputable international polls, regional publics hold U.S. policy in even deeper contempt today than they did when President George W. Bush left office.” True, but Washington couldn’t care less about that. The “regional publics” are powerless, as are their governments. Washington has the drones and the aircraft carriers and the big stick. It seems to be perfectly capable of enforcing what it wants, acting as a proxy for Israeli foreign policy. The Neocons are winning.

  108. James Canning says:

    I will say again that I think Obama sincerely wished to improve US relations with Iran when he took office in 2009. But he lacked sufficient knowledge, experience and confidence to achieve this object.

  109. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Europeans want out of Afghanistan.

    American policies in the Middle East are often not clearly defined, and there are inconsistencies and gaps. What is the US position on oil deals made with Iraqi Kurdistan, for example?

  110. Don Bacon says:

    Absolutely correct, Leveretts.
    Thank you for standing tall on this issue which as you recognize is really one of ME hegemony and which at its core has nothing to do with nuclear or terror issues.
    Since it is an issue of hegemony, it can’t be negotiated, as Iran recognizes. Iran will go through the motions but since the US has preconditions, negotiations are only for public consumption. Meanwhile Iran is eating the US’s lunch, along with US allies. Speaking of allies, we can expect to see the EU take a fall this Fall. Greece certainly, Spain maybe, and France and Italy possibly, helped by US sanctions on them against Iran oil.
    –Europe oil import ranking 2011 (Iran)
    1. Italy, 2. Spain, 3. Greece, 4. France

    Now the U.S. — actually not the U.S. but Obama — has imposed new sanctions with a new executive order. Yes, the most powerful man in the world, acting as the U.S., has imposed new crippling, biting sanctions on two financial institutions, two giants of the world financial system, China’s Bank of Kunlun and Iraq’s Elaf Islamic Bank. Say what?
    Under Treasury Secretary Cohen: “Today’s action exposes these banks’ continued business with designated Iranian banks, and effectively cuts them off from the U.S. financial system.” I bet they’re disappointed.
    Way to go, Team USA. Take that, Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Islamic Bank.

  111. fyi says:

    James Canning says: August 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    There is an understanding between Iran and Pakistan on Afghanistan.

    Iranians have no reason to help NATO in Afghanistan; she will fall their way.

    I agree with the assessment of this post; US will not alter her policies in the Middle East.

  112. James Canning says:

    I long have argued that Iran’s help is necessary to achieve minimal stability in Afghanistan, and that Russia, China and India have a larger stake in minimal stability in Afghanistan, than does the US.

    Romney was foolish to endorse Israel’s refusal to accept Iranian enrichment of uranium to 5% or lower.