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The Race for Iran

THE “ARAB AWAKENING”, AMERICA, THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, AND THE MIDDLE EAST’S BALANCE OF POWER

Last week, Hillary spoke at the American University in Washington, DC—where she’s now teaching U.S. foreign policy, in addition to her appointment at Yale University.  She spoke about the Arab awakening and its impact on the Middle East’s balance of power.  Please click here to listen to her talk, and see highlights below:

“The Middle East is going through a period of momentous change, turmoil.  Many describe it as the ‘Arab awakening’—a ‘bottom up’ phenomenon; a dramatic manifestation of ‘people power’.  There are good reasons to look at what’s happening in the Middle East this way. 

But as someone focused on U.S. foreign policy and international int’l strategy, I think it’s important also to look at and interpret what’s going on in the Middle East from another angle: the breakdown of the U.S.-led political and security order in the Middle East…What we’re seeing in the Middle East today is a dramatic shift in the regional balance of power—a shift in the relative distribution of power against America and our regional partners in favor of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies.  

While this shift has been ongoing for at least a decade, one of the most important consequences of the Arab awakening that is unfolding today will be an acceleration and intensification of this shift in the regional balance.

Beyond the shift in the relative distribution of power among important regional actors, the very essence of power politics in Middle East—is shifting—from hard military power, where America has the advantage, to soft power, where the Islamic Republic its allies have the advantage

What is driving these shifts? 

To answer that, it is important to look, first, at the basis for U.S. dominance in Middle East.  U.S. dominance in the Middle East has rested on two things:  capacity and legitimacy. 

Regarding capacity, America remains uniquely capable of projecting enormous amounts of conventional mil power into the Middle East.  No one else can project this hard power, conventional military power into the Middle East, today.  But prolonged, strategically indeterminate U.S. occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have underscored the limits of what U.S. military might can accomplish. 

Regarding legitimacy, America has tried—under the first President Bush, President Clinton, The second President Bush, and now, President Obama—to gain buy-in of Arab states for a U.S.-led, highly militarized political and security order in the Middle East on the grounds that U.S. leadership would bring good things to the Middle East, including greater security and a resolution to the Arab/Israeli conflict.  But, simply put, America hasn’t delivered on those promises…And, it has cost America dearly in terms of the perceived legitimacy of America’s purposes in the Middle East.  

Likewise, it’s become increasingly clear to the people of the Middle East that America isn’t going to deliver an end to the Arab/Israeli conflict.  Instead, the United States is now widely seen in the Middle East as enabling an Israeli national security doctrine that requires a kind of regional hegemony for Israel, through permanent occupation and the freedom to use military force, unilaterally and disproportionately.  That, too, has cost America dearly, in terms of the perceived legitimacy of its purposes in the Middle East…

When Obama became President, in January 2009, he pledged to change how America dealt with the Middle East and to put our Middle East policies on a more effective, sustainable trajectory—in Iraq, Afghan, on Arab/Israeli peace, and to pursue “engagement” with the Islamic Republic.  But, instead, Obama is presiding over the demise of a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, turning America into a quasi-perm occupying power in Afghanistan by surging additional troops into Afghanistan with no strategy for a political settlement there, and discrediting engagement as a strategy by saying he tried but failed to reach out to Iran when, in fact, he never seriously tried.  There has been no Nixon to China moment under Obama. 

As a result, the Middle East’s balance of power has shifted even further away from the United States and toward the Islamic Republic and its allies…And, now, Obama stands by, for the most part, as new openings for Iran to reset the regional balance in its favor emerge in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunis, Yemen, and perhaps elsewhere.  (Obama is standing by with the possible exception of Libya where he may end up in a Somalia-like military intervention.)

The fact is:  every Middle East regime that has been seriously challenged by sustained popular unrest so far is either a close U.S. ally (Bahrain, Egypt, Tunis, Yemen) or a former rogue that made a surrender-type deal with America (Libya).  That’s the pattern.   Rather than acknowledge this fact, this pattern, and deal with the deficiencies in America’s Middle East policies, Washington has focused on the possibility that the wave of popular unrest that’s taking down one U.S. ally in the Middle East after another will now bring down the Islamic Republic—and, perhaps, Assad’s government in Syria, too. 

In my view that is wishful thinking.

But why is this—why has the Islamic Republic defied conventional wisdom and not only survived but strengthened to the extent that Iran can now balance effectively against the United States in what is now a competition for influence in the Middle East?

The Islamic Republic has come through because, even at the height of the opposition Green Movement’s activism following Iran’s June 2009 presidential election, the Green Movement did not represent anything close to the majority of Iranian society, and, the majority of Iranians continue to support the idea of an Islamic Republic—even if they want it to evolve in significant ways.  What’s left of the Green Movement in Iran today represents an even smaller portion of Iranian society than it did in the summer of 2009.  Moreover, recent efforts to restart protests in Iran have taken place at what most Iranians inside Iran understand is their moment in the Middle East—which has further reduced political space for the Green Movement’s message. 

So, from the perspective of many in Iran—and, I would argue, in reality—the relative distribution of power in the Middle East is shifting away from America and our allies and toward the Islamic Republic and its partners in the resistance camp.  In this context, Iranian policymakers are confident—with good reason—that any government in the Arab world which becomes at all more representative of its people’s values, beliefs, concerns, preferences, and interests will become, first of all, less enthusiastic about strategic cooperation with the United States and Israel, and that is a plus for Iran. 

Iranian policymakers are also confident—again, with good reason—that any Arab government which becomes more representative of its own pop will become more receptive to the Islamic Republic’s message of resistance to U.S. and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.  This message appeals not just to Shi’a.  Public opionion polls and just the experience of spending time in these societies indicate that the message of resistance resonates throughout the region, and has tremendous appeal not just to Shia but on the Sunni Arab street

As long as currently or once pro-American regimes aren’t replaced by salafi-dominated Islamist orders, Arab governments that emerge from the present turmoil will want to follow an independent foreign policy line.  Iran calculates that this will work in its favor, and this is a real plus for the Islamic Republic.    

But the regional balance of power is also shifting at another level—in the very essence of the Middle East’s power politics.  On this level, the critical point is that the balance of power in the Middle East is becoming relatively less defined by “hard” military capabilities, quantifiable economic indicators, etc, & relatively more defined in terms of a “balance of influence” in the Middle East. 

Here it’s important to discuss “soft power”, famously defined by Harvard University’s Joseph Nye as the capacity of “getting others to want what you want”, and which Nye contrasted with the ability to coerce others through the exercise of “hard” military and/or economic power. 

One of the most remarkable things about the shift in the Middle East’s balance of power over the last decade, away from America and its allies, in favor of the Islamic Republic and its partners, is that this shift has virtually nothing to do with military capabilities or other forms of hard power.  It’s very much about soft power, and the fact that the Islamic Republic has picked winners rather than losers as its political allies in key regional theaters.    

The Islamic Republic has cultivated an expanding reservoir of soft power, derived from its support for resistance movements on the front lines of the Arab/Israeli conflict and its defiance of U.S. and other Western powers over the nuclear issue. 

For the last decade or so—and especially since Ahmadinejad’s initial presidential election in 2005—the Islamic Republic has worked to maximize the strategic leverage it derives from its soft power edge.  In particular, the Islamic Republic has used its standing as the de facto leader of the Middle East’s resistance bloc to mobilize regional publics’ most intensely felt grievances—including grievances against America, Israel, and the region’s pro-Western regimes. 

Many Western analysts dismiss the significance of soft power in the coldly competitive venue of the Middle East’s power politics.  But the kind of soft power that the Islamic Republic has cultivated has real world impact. 

Zbigniew Brzezinski has written with particular insight about what he describes as the “global political awakening”, in which “nearly universal access to radio, television, and the Internet is creating a community of shared resentments and envy that transcends sovereign borders”.   In the Middle East and other regions scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination, this is generating a yearning for human dignity and cultural respect among local populations.  Consequently, those same populations, disliking the status quo, are susceptible to being mobilized against those whom they perceive as self-interestedly preserving it. (i.e., America propping up Mubarak)

Iranian policymakers, before Brzezinski made his observation, grasped the potential for Middle Eastern populations mobilized against the status quo to challenge existing regimes, a regional order dominated by America, and a regional balance of power tilted against the Islamic Republic.  In strategic terms, the Islamic Republic is using the political awakening of Middle Eastern publics to alter the very nature of power politics in the region. 

More specifically, the Islamic Republic is working to transform the Middle East’s traditional balance of power framework, defined by conventional military capabilities and other “hard power” assets in which Iran is deficient, into a balance of influence, defined by aspects of “soft power” in which the Islamic Republic enjoys unique advantages.  This transformation is bolstering Iran’s ability to shape strategic outcomes in the Middle East.  

America faces serious challenges in the Middle East.  Our strategic position in this vital part of the world is eroding before our eyes.  To forestall the collapse of our strategic position in the Middle East, the United States needs to come to terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, just as President Nixon discarded 20 years of dysfunctional China policy and came to terms with the People’s Republic of China in the early 1970s.

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186 Responses to “THE “ARAB AWAKENING”, AMERICA, THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, AND THE MIDDLE EAST’S BALANCE OF POWER”

  1. Anonymous says:

    About Iranian and Western Ideologies and Double Moral Standards:

    http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/11362

  2. Rehmat says:

    fyi – when was the last time you read Jewish history describing how the Jewish communities were treated as SERF (slaves) in Europe – and how the Jewish communities were expelled from almost every western country?

    Then came the ‘Jewish Awakening’ – and now look even the world’s sole power, the US, is under their feet.

    So the Arab could bring back their ‘Awakening’ and lead the world as they did for over 800 years in Spain.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/rediscovering-islamic-civilization/

  3. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 15, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    The financial machinations of EU against Yugoslavi started after the collapse of Peace of Yalta.

    In reference to Chile: the late martyred President Dr. Salvador Allende often stated the goals of his government as: “independencia economical, independencia political, y independencia nacaional.”

    This was what Americans could not accept; just like the case of Iran under the late Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq’s government.

    Americans are not enemies of Chile or Iran; like Plato said, slaves must learn to like being slaves and masters to be masters for the American millenium to be upon us.

    This will never ever happen.

  4. Humanist says:

    Arnold

    Re Iraq

    Many years ago when I was reading Victor Ostrovsky’s “By Way of Deception” I got a sort of mild mental shock. That was when I read how Israelis were training both Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan soldiers in 2 nearby buildings and how they were selling arms to both sides to kill each other. Or how Israelis were organizing spy operations to plant bombs during the construction of bridges in the ‘naive’ Middle Eastern countries in order to blow the bridges up remotely in case there war a war with them in the coming years or coming decades.

    (I think that book contains a wealth of truly shocking revelations. It and Victor’s other book entitled “The other side of Deception” are among the top ten ‘ must read’ books for anyone who studies the dirty politics of present time hegemonies)

    My mental shock is hard to explain in a page or two since those days my perception of Israel didn’t quite match with what I was learning from the book. Another side lesson for me was “any political notion can not be taken seriously unless important covert (secret) knowledge backs it up”. By knowledge I mean sets of decisive, relevant, reliable and broad ultra top secret knowledge,. something most of the people and sheeple would never find out.

    I was reminded of that lesson as I was reading your expressions, concepts, assumptions and themes on Iraq.

    I think the subject of 2003 Iraq war encompasses such a vast fields of social, historical, political and human related sciences that, at present time, no single individual is capable of describing it exactly, accurately and precisely in just a couple of pages especially when he/she has no access to big bank of top secret information.

    Even if ALL the pertinent info is accessible, the summary can not be convincingly reliable unless its colossal volume of info goes through present day sophisticated probabilistic (mathematical) models that detect incoherency and/or contradictions.

    You might question what Mathematics has to do with origins of Iraq war. Let me give you just one example out of many: Everyone knows about the 2007 NIE which enraged Likudniks and their stooges like nutts. NIE was a phenomenally consequential report that successfully stopped neocons from staging a war with Iran. Although NIE had specified Iran, since 2003 had given up the intention to build the bomb, with high probability that stipulations was inserted in NIE under extreme pressure from the White House since all the indications were that Iranian rulers never had ‘decided’ to design and manufacture any type of WMD. During their 8 years of war with Iraq they were decidedly against using Chemical Weapons as they were constantly taking horrifying beatings by those weapons. Also fact was established that Iranians were capable of manufacturing and using those weapons …and they didn’t..

    What made all the 16 intelligence agencies agree that Iran has no intention of building the atom bomb? On top of massive amount of traditional secret information available to those agencies there was a report by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita that played a very important role in the compilation of NIE. He is a Jewish Game Theorist who has a thriving consultancy business. He is the one whose, at times surprising, predictions have turned out to be TRUE 90% of the time while the record of the best predictors of our time hardly surpasses 50%.. In early 2009 he predicted the desire of Iranians to build a bomb was not supported by his Game Theory Model. As he showed in the following TED conference in February 2009 the curve warranting an alarm was ever dropping as the time was passing by.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bruce_bueno_de_mesquita_predicts_iran_s_future.html

    (I urge everyone who is reading this to Google his name and watch Bruce’s other videos).

    Anyhow, on top of political and other reasons not to go along with the Administration for war with Iran, his report to Intelligence agencies must have been so convincing that had left no room for any type of agreement with the Executive Branch. I deduce the above from what Bruce told later to another audience on how much the Bush crowd hated him for his contribution to NIE..

    The mathematical equations in the Game Theory are not static, they change with every significant new input. There is usually a stability curve that starts dropping in each stage of exhaustive calculations. As in one point the curve starts to rise then optimum stability (equilibrium) has been achieved. In one approach examining other parameters with varying probabilities determines the next stability point helping the determination of the final results.

    Game Theory is by no means perfect. The rumor is it has gained the Israelis countless billions in stock markets around the world. Yet I think if they used it also for the June 2009 Iranian Presidential Election to de-legitimize, demonize and de-stabilize Iran they must have made a serious mistake not entering into their model the possibility of Iranians, for the first time, publishing the computer file of detailed vote counts in every single polling station proving beyond any doubt that ‘not a single credible evidence of fraud exists in that election’.

    That was a devastating blow to war camp and their large army of stooges in the MSM as well as to the likes of Netanyahu who soon after the election (gleefully?) told Charlie Rose “Iran is not the 800 pound Gorilla anymore”.

    Apart from the above argument that the subject of Iraq war is way more convoluted than catches the eye I found quite of your assertions questionable. Discussing them in detail requires many pages of explanation which is not warranted here.

    As I implied above, I think, eventually a group of historians would expose the set of consequential facts on that war, something we only throughly know probably an insignificant part of them today.

    For instance:

    1- The publication of ‘New American Century’ revealed how the moronic ideas of a racist, hegemonist group is going to be utilized by a ‘right’ president in the future to plan expanding the Israeli/American ‘empire’ not only for plundering and controlling the resources of ‘backward’ nations but also to keep those nations in a ‘primitive’ state as long as possible.

    2- The concept of invading Iraq and staying there forever was in place even before the election of Bush/Cheney and definitely before the historical 911. I think Bush/Cheney (who were oilmen) allowing the Oil/Energy companies compile the legislation for US energy issues reveals quite a lot.

    3- Which one played the most decisive factor for invading Iraq, Israel or Oil? My guess is both factors were reinforcing each other as the time was progressing. So at one point oil was the dominant factor while at other times Israel was in the forefront.

    4- I suspect when G.H.Bush (the papa oilman) was the Director of CIA he must have thought of how to get the ‘Grand Prize’ of Iraq oil. Did he or any or his ‘smart’ trusting entourage think of setting the foundations for luring Saddam to invade Kuwait? I have read a few semi-analytical articles on that but at the moment I only go as far as ‘suspicion’ without being able to present any proof.

    This list can contain dozens of items. I am stopping right here repeating my basic thought ie

    Iraq war changed history of the world,, it is a big big issue and only a large group of historians in far future can explain it the way it deserves an accurate complete explanation.

    None of us here can envision how many intriguing hands has that giant goddess.

  5. Pirouz_2 says:

    @James:
    “The creation of Israel was partly accidental due to exigencies of the First World War, and the Second World War.”

    Well there you have it…Arnold asked for our opinions regarding the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Your theory is not about Iraq it is about Israel. And as you have it, Israel’s creation was “accidental”. It is certainly one theory.

  6. Pirouz_2 says:

    yes James, China’s economy is based on capitalism. I am surprised you even ask that question.

  7. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Yes, the US conspired in the overthrow of Salvador Allende. The purpose of the conspiracy, however, was not the injure Chile.

    The US applied heavy financial pressure to the UK in 1956 for force France and the UK out of the Suez Canal, in order to please Nasser and Tito. But the US was not trying to destroy the UK.

    I still see no reason why the US would conspire to bring about the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Is your reference an occasion where the US sought to punish Tito for bad behavior?

  8. James Canning says:

    Pirouz_2,

    Are the peple of Saudi Arabia “slaves” to China, given that China buys more Saudi cride than any other country?

    Is China capitalist? Imperialist?

    Where did you get the notion that the imperialists created Israel to advance their scheme of Empire? The creation of Israel was partly accidental due to exigencies of the First World War, and the Second World War.

  9. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Everyone (but specially Arnold);

    In a number of comments I have clarified the gist my position on the issue (or at least I think I did so), and repeating it could perhaps lead to the misunderstanding that through repetition I intend to shove my own personal opinion down the throat of everyone else. However, Arnold earlier asked everyone to explain their “theory” regarding the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and out of the great deal of respect that I have for Arnold, I am going to try to explain my take on the issue once more.

    I tend to explain the global on goings based on the need of capitalism to continue with its growth which in turn needs: raw material (one of the most important of which is the fuel; ie. oil and gas approx. 65-67% of which is in ME), labour and a market for the produced commodities. This need for growth calls for geographical expansion, and in doing so various groups of capitalists compete ruthlessly with each other over taking over more and more of the global geography, its resources (ie. raw material), its labour power (enslavment of different nations to get them to produce the commodities and expand the capital) and VERY IMPORTANTLY ITS MARKETS.

    I capitalized the global market because it often goes unnoticed when people analyze whats happenning to the oil rich countries. It is not just the oil (cheap resource of energy) which the imperialism needs but as importantly it needs those oil rich countries to buy the products of the very capitalists who have robbed them of their resources and labour power. Venezuela’s biggest customer (for its oil) is USA but their relationship is far from being friendly; why? Because there is a major disagreement over how Venezuela spends its oil revenues and how it dispenses its labour power. So it is not just about selling oil!

    This is the reason which -in my humble opinion- led to the creation of Israel and NOT THE ZIONISM or some under hand agenda by the ‘jews’!

    Israel is not the creation of the jews who have become conscious of their national identity, it is the creation of the WESTERN IMPERIALISM. As such I don’t see Israel as the main motivation for the wars and the western foreign policy in this region, but rather it (Israel) is a tool to achieve an end (which I explained before).

    By causing war after war in this region a very effective market for the western military junk has been created. Furthermore, thanks to Israel the resistance of the people of this region was put down and all nations in this region were subjected to puppet dictators popped up and kept in power by the west, all of whom did everything they could to keep the price of the oil under control, steadily bought the military products of the west and kept buying useless luxury items from the West for their corrupt elite. Whatever was left from the extravagant expenditure over Western goods was syphoned back as re-investment to the Western capitalist countries (I have heard that some 7% of the capital invested in USA is actually from Saudi oil revenue).

    Naturally people are not ‘passive’ entities waiting to be enslaved, THEY RESIST. And sometimes it is not necessarily the ‘people’ which create trouble for the Western imperialism, sometimes it is rogue dictators (eg. Saddam) who decide to go their own way and even invade Kuwait!

    Imperialism has to punish such disobediences and through brutal force has to make the people of this region understand that they are NOTHING, that they are non-players, they are slaves with no power who would do best if they just obeyed.

    So I explain the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the greater middle east, based on this and not on Israel. Israel itself -in my opinion- is a tool to achieve that end (ie. the greater middle east and a total hegemony of the West on this region).

    In my opinion, drunken with their victory in 1991, and then the ‘apparently’ swift victory over Taliban, the West thought that it could through brutal and UNQUESTIONABLE force take care of any sort of resistance -be it by the people or by rogoue dictators- in this region and put the people of this region in their place and show them who is the master.

    The plan was to take down one country outside the sphere of influence of the west with as little a military force as possible (and hence the “lean” nature of the first military force which invaded Iraq in 2003) and to put the fear of ‘god’ (!!) back into the heart of the people of this region: NOTHING EXCEPT TOTAL OBEDIENCE WILL BE TOLERATED! This would happen to Saddam, and perhaps there wouldn’t be even any need for the usage of force against Iran or Syria, they would just fall by themselves in the awe of what happened to Saddam!

    Russia and China and perhaps the most important countries in the EU won’t coopperate?? UN will not approve? ALL THE BETTER! It can show the people of this region their helplessness all the better so that they understand what USA wants, USA gets; and there is no one else to help them!

    So this is my take on the issue of invasion of Iraq on 2003.

  10. masoud says:

    Arnold,

    For the past thirty years Egypt has had an Emergency Law that gave Mubbarak unbridled powers. The nominal reason for this was because of the assasination of Anwar Sadat, but a thirty year State of Emergency is not a normal response to something even that drastic.

    The reason Mubbarak was able to get away for this long without repealing that law was because Egypt was a highly militarized state that had fought several costly wars against Israel at great cost. The general understanding existed that if Egypt became weak because of internal strife Israel would try to capitilise. Furthermore the threat of Israel was used to justify to many Egyptians just why they couldn’t pursue policies they otherwise would have liked to. They couldn’t support the palestinians or oppose the Iraq wars or take any steps to achieve a measure of independence because, if they did, they would lose all of Washington’s support, while Israel would gain a blank check, and then where would they be. Similar dynamics were and are in play in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, and to a lesser extent in the Persian Gulf and North African states.

  11. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I have already given you the URL for a document on the campaign for financial destablization of Yugoslavia. Similar, in essence, to what the late Mr. Nixon was doing against the legitimate and popular government of the late martyred President Dr. Salvador Allende in Chile.

    That the executors of US Grand Strategy and its formulators were different individuals does not negate the existence of one.

    You are dismissive of the admissions of US Officals themselves and keep trying to attribute the war in Iraq to the personal characteristics and pathologies of Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush, followed by an omnipotent Jewish Lobby in US.

    You cannot, it seems to me, admit of the evidence in front of your eyes.

    The hypothesis that have advanced explains US policies in the Balkans as well as in the Persian Gulf. It explains why since the Collapse of the Peace of Yalta in 1991 and the adoption of this new Grand Strategy by the Axis Powers, Islamic Iran has become more and more of a target of destruction; the sanctions of the Axis Powers since June of 2010 being akin to those policies that US adopted against Chile.

    If I am correct, then it follows that until the change in US Grand Strategy, there could be no settlement of Iran-US differences.

    If I am incorrect, Iran will have spent more effort that was necessary on addressing her security concerns and will have missed a historical opportunity for better relations with the Axis Powers.

  12. James Canning says:

    Persian Gulf,

    The story you linked does an excellent job of underscoring Israeli arrogance and stupidity in wrecking the Turkish effort to bring peace between Syria and Israel, in order to carry out the massacre in Gaza in late 2008. At the time I saw this as an act of extraordinary viciousness as well as stupidity, encouraged of course by Condoleezza Rice, Elliott Abrams, and other incompetent Bush administration advisers.

  13. James Canning says:

    Persian Gulf,

    Mubarak was the public face of the military dictatorship that has controlled Egypt since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1953. The hugely profitable arrangements put in place in 1979 have not been displaced or terminated merely because Mubarak is out of office. I’m not sure Seyfeddin Kara grasps this point adequately.

  14. James Canning says:

    David Gardner has perceptive comments in the Financial Times today: “Chill regional winds blow across Israel” and he in effect argues that Israel is making a major strategic error in failing to accept the 2002 Saudi peace plan.

  15. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Tony Blair and George W. Bush shared a quasi-religious belief that all one had to do was remove the bad guy at the top, and his supporters, and “democracy” would flourish in Iraq.

    I still have a hunch that Bush actually thought Iraq had WMD, even though Dick Cheney’s gang knew Iraq had destroyed its WMD in the 1990s.

    Bush was then and still is delusional about Israel; here to, there is an element of religion about his fantasies (or quasi-religion).

  16. Persian Gulf says:

    Turks cast leery eye on Israel
    By Seyfeddin Kara

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC16Ak01.html

  17. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Where do you get the notion that the US planned for and encouraged the collapse of Yugoslavia? Did the US have anything to do with the decision of Slovenia to secede from Yugoslavia? I am not aware of anything in this regard.

  18. fyi says:

    Arnold Evans says: March 15, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I cannot comment on the process; I was not in the US Government.

    But per their Grand Strategy, they had to destroy potential contenders to independent power in key regions of the world.

    The first to be destroyed was Yugoslavia.

    It is likely that per the Dual-Containment policy of Iran and Iraq; US was planning on destroying both.

    However, the US strategic leaders could not convince EU that destroying Ba’athist Iraq was such a good idea (as opposed to destroying Yugoslavia).

    The effect of late Mr. Hussein’s policies on the oil markets, his potential threat against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and the erosion of sanctions were, in my opinion, by themselves insufficient cause for US to go to war because Iraq was contained.

    US invasion of Iraq was the stepping-stone to the destruction of Islamic Iran. It was for this reason that the trial baloon that Iranians floated in 2003 was shut down; why negogiate with those that you will be overthrowing a few short years down the road.

    Mr. Blair who had grasped the US strategy, went along with it because he thought that in the event of its success (just like Yugoslavia/Kosovo) he would have UK in a good spot in the global pecking order of power.

  19. Unknown Unknowns says:

    That’s awr, forks!

  20. Persian Gulf says:

    Arnold Evans says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Iran needed to change the directions of the missiles that include nuclear warhead toward Saudis’ oilfield and the Saudis would back off specially now that nobody buys their propaganda in the Arab world. It would also tight the hands of the U.S in patrolling the Persian Gulf and possibly forcing them to get the F out. and probably, Barhain’s kingdom would have already fallen.

    BiBiJon:

    “Overtly acquiring force projection capabilities will quickly lead to formation of countering alliances, arms race etc. which carry a bigger geostrategic downside for Iran, than any upside to the occasional use of hard power.”

    yes, but you are talking about excessive use of force. The projection of hard power would also deter small kingdoms from making countering alliances and instead push them toward bandwagoning with Iran. I think, UAE’s actions are a case in point (what did your policy choice produce really in term of UAE’s actions?). btw, recent WikiLeaks revelations show the failure of detente with the Arab kingdoms of the Persian Gulf. It was in fact the lack of a credible hard power, or a perception of it, that led to the treacherous act of Ghatar’s monarch, and to some extent Kowiet too.

  21. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Looney Tunes Reports:

    Ancestor not happy Nippon-koku kowtow to round-eye McDonard flies and shake carture mertdown. Not happy at awr!

  22. Unknown Unknowns says:

    Looney Tunes Reports:

    Our source, “well-placed” in the center of Bahrain’s football stadium, reports that he no longer sees the Bahraini team doing an honor round holding the Saudi flag.

    What goes around, comes around, M0+%er#~^+er!

  23. Fiorangela says:

    Liz, I understand and share your outrage, but I think Iran would be walking into a trap if Iran sent forces to Bahrain to aid Bahrainis against the Saudis. US has military capability there but the fight would not be restricted to Bahrain: US would call an incursion by Iran into Bahrain an act of war — a casus belli, and take the opportunity to attack Iran on her homefront.

    March 15 New York Times

    A day after Saudi Arabia’s military rolled into Bahrain, the Iranian government, which has supported the protests led by the Shiite majority, branded the move “unacceptable,” threatening to escalate a local political conflict into a regional showdown with Iran.

  24. Fiorangela says:

    Arnold, Kooshy,

    Arnold, Your analysis lined up a lot of facts and events in coherent order. I agree with Kooshy & RSH that other very significant factors were not accounted for, but one cannot criticize someone for what he didn’t write. Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to do just that after more pressing matters on the ‘domestic policy’ front are dealt with.

    One question on what you DID write — you seem to imply that the US perceived that Iran was an expansionist threat to Saudi Arabia.
    US may well have perceived that to be the case, and crafted policy accordingly, but I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment. From the bit of history that I am aware of among US-Iran-Saudi Arabia, I see no evidence that Iran would pose an expansionist threat to Saudi Arabia. Border skirmishes or claims to an island here or there, maybe so — that amounts to a spat between neighbors over a tree branch overhanging the garden fence.

    As well, there are tensions over access to holy sites on the Arabian peninsula. Pilgrimage is big business. Saudi Arabia sold oil rights to Western interests for low price at a time when pilgrimage, therefore revenues to the state, were at a low ebb.

    The major, and long-standing friction between Iran and Saudi Arabia is ideological: Iran resents the imposition of Islam on its Persian culture, which Iranians perceive to be superior in every way to Arab culture. Persians resent Islam’s appropriation of Persian culture and ‘branding’ it as Islamic.

    Kooshy (and RSH), “Israel” is a loaded word. Think of the star of david as signifying the same forces as the symbol for nuclear energy, but with sharp elbows. Thus, Israel stands for the forces that include the supposed shared Abrahamic root of Christianity, with all the entangling identity and religious beliefs issues inherent within; Israel stands for the zionist political movement whose roots reach into the 19th century (to start one’s analysis at 1948 is to examine the ‘plant’ only from the ground up, and fails to consider the seeds and roots).

    “Israel” examined back to 19th century encompasses the radical shift in capitalist philosophy and practice that was imposed upon the US, and Europe, in those years at the turn of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Inasmuch as perhaps 100 million people have died, and at least six countries were destroyed in service to that capitalist shift, I suggest it is important to consider it carefully.

    The passion with which the enemies of Iran point to Shari’a law as the root of all evil suggests the investment those forces have in overtaking countries that resist the ‘new’ capitalism. (My simplistic understanding — ‘old’ capitalism = Adam Smith-style, with the recognition that Smith wrote about moral philosophy and the “Christian” values of caring for one another in which every man was entitled to be thought of as ‘my equal and my brother;’ in contrast to Gordon Gekko-style, or Milton Friedman-style capitalism, with their trickle-down notions.

  25. Pak says:

    Dear Iranian,

    My Arabic is good enough to understand this image:

    http://irangcc.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/ahmadinejad.jpg

    It seems pretty clear to me. Maybe you are too illiterate to see through the propaganda being spoon-fed to you. Then again, I am not surprised!

  26. BiBiJon says:

    Persian Gulf says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “yes, but soft power without the backing of hard power is meaningless. Continuous victimization would not last long either. and the perception could change radically from generation to generation and somehow within a generation due the highly dynamic environment that we live in. ”

    PG, very valid point. However, IMHO:

    Given the disparity of forces, or if you prefer, given the realities, Iran has had to make long term decisions, and formulate strategies which stand the test of time.

    That has meant creating a robust missile force, and well rehearsed and tested asymetric warfare with military precision that makes Iran an extremely difficult target for agression, but which does not afford Iran any significant capacity to project force outside her borders.

    Hezbullah similarly has not invested a dime on the delusion of one day invading Israel. However, it has sufficient resources to beat IDF every time they try and attack Lebanon.

    There is another ‘realist’ logic to this strictly defensive stance of Iran and Hizbullah. Overtly acquiring force projection capabilities will quickly lead to formation of countering alliances, arms race etc. which carry a bigger geostrategic downside for Iran, than any upside to the occasional use of hard power.

    US invading Iraq, or Israel pounding Lebanon and Gaza, or SA getting the green light to invade Bahrain, and having to watch from the sidelines are all foreseeable consequences of sticking to a defensive-only posture. But thses decisions are very long term and cannot/should not be discarded based day-to-day events that unfold.

    On the nukes, I think the mere possession, let alone the threat, and doubly let alone the actual use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances will translate to the demise of Iran. The disgusting weapons are absolutely useless, and would not alter a thing anyway. SA under US umbrella would not be detered by Iran in a million years.

  27. Arnold Evans says:

    masoud says:
    March 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I think I disagree with your number 1. I don’t understand what you mean by the phrase to hold people in check and don’t know what first order interest the US has in holding the people of the Middle East in that state.

    Can you give an example of what you mean by standing between despotic government and colonial expansion?

  28. Iranian says:

    Arnold Evans

    The Iranians have more than enough power to put the Saudi regime in it’s place. People in Iran are outraged at what’s going on and US support for the current crimes are not going to be forgotten.

  29. masoud says:

    Arnold,

    Your 1049 post was comprehensive, and accurate as far as it went, but there are things that it left out, namely the reasons the US feels it has to protect Israel. I think the answers to this question(in order of importance) are:

    1. Israel was the main device through which Arab and middle eastern people were to be constantly kept ‘in check’, caught between their own despotic government on the one hand and the threat of colonial expansion on the other, and therefore reliant on the US to ‘keep the order’.
    2. A very effectively organized US-Israeli demographic that has become an important factor in domestic US political arrangements.
    3. Arms companies in the US, which are an important in their own right, also love selling arms to Israel(financed by US grants), because thanks to this’special relationship’ it is possible to sell the most expensive classified technology to Israel, and subsequently get contracts to build even more capable armaments from the Pentagon.

  30. kooshy says:

    Arnold

    “As far as I can tell, 10:49 has been about my view for as long as there’s been a raceforiran.com website.”

    Arnold – Sorry if I misunderstood your view on US’s ME foreign policy, I always had problem with some RFI commentators notion that US’s Middle East policy is only due to US’s love for Jewish cause rather for benefit of US’s self interest goals. I always enjoy your detailed analysis whenever you tend to open up the discussions.

  31. Arnold Evans says:

    Persian Gulf says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

    (that applies to the nuclearization of Iran too. obviously, Saudis would not dare to send a single man to Bahrain had Iran already possessed a de jure nuclear status).

    I don’t know about that. Iran has no way to get troops there and no way to directly threaten the Saudis with war, as far as I can tell. Even if it could, Iran couldn’t credibly threaten to go to war over this. Iran can provide the Shiites with money and training and will now have more takers, but its nuclear program is separate from that.

    How do you think Iran having nuclear status would impact this situation?

  32. Arnold Evans says:

    fyi says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

    The other flaw of the Axis Powers is their conceptual approach to Suadi Arabia and indeed all the Arab states of Arabia. These are not states with institutions; nothing will survive the demise of the monarchies in those states. It would be a free-for-all; just imagine a family business in which the family that owns the company is removed with no heirs.

    There is no chance of building competent Armed Forces in these oil states that would obviate the need for US protection from external aggression. The reason is that the Family Business nature of these states: a competent military will remove these ruling houses from power.

    I agree with this. But there have been a lot of places that have had monarchies that essentially were the state and, except for Israel’s region, they are gone or vastly reformed with US encouragement.

    Competent nationalistic militaries would definitely eventually remove the houses from power but removing monarchies is not inherently necessarily harmful to US interests. The Middle East is a special case for the United States.

    FYI:

    In your words, what process do you think led to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003?

  33. Persian Gulf says:

    BiBiJon says:
    March 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

    yes, but soft power without the backing of hard power is meaningless. Continuous victimization would not last long either. and the perception could change radically from generation to generation and somehow within a generation due the highly dynamic environment that we live in.

    Hezbollah would not have ascended to the level we see today had it not been due to the rockets it possessed. time and generally time space is an abstract notion.

    looking ahead too long is not necessarily a sign of astuteness.
    درشتی و نرمی به هم در به است

    (that applies to the nuclearization of Iran too. obviously, Saudis would not dare to send a single man to Bahrain had Iran already possessed a de jure nuclear status).

  34. Arnold Evans says:

    kooshy says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

    If I understand correctly, you have now moderated your previous hardcore view on US’s love for Zionism as the only reason for last sixty years of US’s ME policies,

    As far as I can tell, 10:49 has been about my view for as long as there’s been a raceforiran.com website.

    I’m sure it is expressed more clearly because I’ve rarely written in as much detail but my view hasn’t really changed as far as I can tell.

  35. Arnold Evans says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Talk about a weak theory.

    Where’s yours? I’d like nothing more, and I think few things would be more valuable than you and others providing the strongest theories you can about how the invasion happened.

    Why would you not?

  36. Liz says:

    Iran should send forces to Bahrain to defend the people there.

  37. Arnold Evans says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I did not say that. I have the very specific idea that it was a confluence of the oil companies, the neocons, the Israel Lobby, and of course the MIC.

    Umm, Richard, that’s not specific at all. Do you really consider the above a specific theory about the cause of the 2003 invasion? I feel like you can’t. I feel like you must be joking or being sarcastic or something.

    If you’re looking for me to point at Israel like you do and say it was all Israel’s fault, that’s not going to happen because it was not all Israel’s fault.

    No. I actually never said that either.

    You’re the one with no theory except “things just happen except when it’s to Israel’s benefit then Israel is in charge.”

    Richard, you posted this at 11:07. At 10:49 just 15 minutes earlier I outlined in substantial detail my theory of the process that led the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. And it does not resemble your description of it in the least.

  38. kooshy says:

    Arnold

    If I understand correctly, you have now moderated your previous hardcore view on US’s love for Zionism as the only reason for last sixty years of US’s ME policies, I must add that now(if I understood correctly)I do agree with your moderated view on US’s ME strategy. I do believe that the US’s love for Israel Is (was) a necessity for overall regional strategic architecture to maintain the balance of power in the region, and I will add we are about to witness a major shift. I believe US did pursue a nationalistic colonial balance of interest policy in ME that is no longer tenable where Israel served as a devisor to maintain balance of power.

  39. Arnold: Not one mention of the oil companies/Cheney strategic plan for Iraqi oil dug up by Greg Palast, the Israel Lobby and the Yinon Approach, the MIC, or the neocons and their PNAC document in your analysis of the Iraq war.

    Bush “just decided” to attack Iraq because the US needed an enemy to vent its anti-Muslim hatred on and because the sanctions necessary to weaken Iraq and prevent it from being a threat to Israel were becoming untenable (except they actually weren’t according to you, which leaves you without even that figleaf).

    Talk about a weak theory. No reference to any economic or political imperative, and the only geopolitical imperative is to protect Israel from an Iraq that wasn’t a threat and couldn’t be a threat for the next twenty years due to the first Gulf War and the sanctions.

    Amazing.

  40. Liz says:

    Iranian@Iran,
    Bahraini,

    We are all watching the events in Bahrain with horror.

    ““When I watch what’s happening in Bahrain on Almanar and Alalam, I pray that people like Scott Lucas (who said in Cambridge that “we” shouldn’t attack Iran because it would hurt the green scum!) get what they deserve.”

    Have no doubt that the filthy US government and it’s mercenaries have been exposed for what they are. Those of us who live in the Middle East know what’s going on and people here have very long memories.”

  41. Fiorangela says:

    Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown and US Policy Toward Iran: Any Relationship?

    Drill Baby Drill. That’s been the bumper-sticker prescription America’s leaders have been selling in the face of rapidly increasing fuel prices consequent to uprisings and turmoil in Arab and Islamic states in Persian Gulf and Mediterranean regions. Americans are told they can – and should – become “independent of foreign energy” by tapping their own energy resources and investing in alternative means of fueling their lifestyle.

    Japan has invested heavily in alternative energy; namely, nuclear power. But Japan’s nuclear power is only an alternative, not a replacement for Japan’s requirements for energy to fuel its sophisticated life-style, mass transportation systems, and industrial production capacity. Japan has had a long and relatively friendly relationship with Iran, which has fueled Japan’s economy for many years.

    The following is a digest of Iran-Japan trade relations over the past five years. It’s hard to avoid the realization that only the interference of American-Israeli irrationality has ruffled the relationship between Japan and Iran. United States and Israel have destabilized the oil-rich Middle East for over fifty years. It’s worthwhile asking whether the deliberate acts of destabilization imposed by US and Israel have had a direct impact in Japan’s perceived need to develop nuclear power, and if so, what responsibility the US and Israel bear for Japan’s current, tragic situation.

    DIGEST OF IRAN-JAPAN TRADE, ENERGY, and RELATIONS

    Japan Wary Of Plan for Sanctions Against Iran
    U.S. Ally Feels Tug of Financial, Energy Ties :http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/12/AR2006061201504_pf.html

    TOKYO, June 12, 2006 — Despite months of pressure from Washington, Japan has become increasingly reluctant to join a Bush administration plan for sanctions against Iran if negotiations fail to resolve concerns over the country’s nuclear program, Japanese and U.S. officials said Monday.
    Japanese officials are suggesting that their country, which has more at stake in Iran financially than any other potential sanctions partner, may not join in punitive measures unless there is a broad international consensus along the lines of a U.N. Security Council resolution or other measure backed by nations now reluctant to impose sanctions, such as China. The White House had hoped instead to bring Japan into a “coalition of the willing” that avoided dealing with “recalcitrants” such as Russia and China.
    The administration’s fallback plan if talks with Iran fail — tough financial measures imposed by a small group of like-minded countries — depends strongly on Japanese participation. Without it, administration officials have calculated, the impact would significantly decrease.
    Japan consumes 22 percent of Iranian oil exports and is slated to begin development this year of the largest and most modern onshore petroleum fields built in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. That has caused Japan to experience an uncomfortable tug of war between its allegiance to Washington and its financial and energy interests in Iran.

    _____________________________________
    How Japan lost Iran to China?
    By Shirzad Azad 11/11/2007 :http://www.globalpolitician.com/23712-japan
    Global Politician*

    It has recently become a popular dictum in Japan that whatever the Japanese lose, it finds its way into the hands of the Chinese. Based on such an assumption, China�s latest adroitness to put itself at the top list of Iran�s trading partners provides only a tiny case of how the rising dubious dragon is conquering Japan�s oversea markets one after another.

    Since the Chinese ambassador to Iran announced last year that his country would become Iran�s primary trade partner in the near future, China has replaced Japan for the first time to stand as the Persian Gulf country�s biggest trading ally. Iran had already decided to have Beijing replace Tokyo as the No. 1 importer of Iranian oil.

    While the trade volume between Iran and China in 1998 was $1.215 billion, recent data show that the two-way trade volume between the two nations has increased by 10 times in less than a decade. The volume of Sino-Iranian trade exceeded $9 billion in 2005, and Iran�s imports from China rose by 360 percent between 2000 and 2005. Imports and exports between the two Asian countries in 2006 surged 43% from the previous year to $14.45 billion.

    Iran�s eastward looking foreign policy and its vacillation toward the West might have been influential in China�s gains in that country; however, Japan�s declining share of economic interests in Iran is attributed to some other reasons.

    China�s soaring energy needs have been a key element to approach Iran. Growing Sino-Iranian ties and their close partnership for fuel resources have progressed to a new stage. China�s increasing thirst for oil has made it imperative for the dragon to get closer to the resource-rich Middle East.

    The Japanese, on the other side, are talking of a new partnership with the Arab countries alongside the Persian Gulf. The fall of the Saddam regime in Iraq has also relatively facilitated the ground for Japanese companies to invest in that turmoil-torn country. . . .

    Iran-Japan trade reaches 14 billion dollars
    :http://www.payvand.com/news/08/feb/1025.html
    Tokyo, Feb 3, 2008 (Payvand News) IRNA – Trade between Iran and Japan rose up to dlrs 14 billion in 2007, Japanese Finance Ministry reported.
    Trade between the two countries had exceeded dlrs 12 billion in 2006 and it enjoyed a significant growth in 2007, IRNA said quoting Japanese Finance Ministry.
    Iran’s share of the total daily imports of crude oil to Japan had a 0.64 percent rise in 2007 compared with that of 2006.
    According to the statistics, Iran has been the third rank supplier of crude oil to Japan.
    Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are the first and second countries exporting oil to Japan respectively.
    The average volume of daily crude oil export to Japan has enjoyed 16,000 barrels increase in 2007 compared with 2006.
    IRNA reporter in Tokyo said that in light of the Iran-Japan excellent political and economic ties, Japan can trust Iran as major crude oil supplier for its energy security would it play more active role in Iranian oil fields.

    Japan-Iran Political Relations JUNE 2009 Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs :http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/middle_e/iran/relation.pdf

    • Japan highly values its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in view of a stable supply of crude oil and ensure stability in the Middle East.
    • Based on friendly relations, Japan has conveyed Iran of its stance, as well as the international community’s stern view, on the nuclear issue.
    Last year, Japan continued to maintain a close exchange of views with Iran through mutual visits, including the Regular Japan-Iran Vice-Ministerial Consultations in May in Teheran and in December in Tokyo; a visit to Japan in February by Dr. Mohammad-Javad ARDASHIR=LARIJANI, Secretary General of National Supreme Council of Human Rights of the Judiciary; a visit to Iran in June by Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Itsunori Onodera; a visit to Japan in October by H.E. Dr. Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, Mayor of Tehran; a visit to Iran in November by Mr. Taro Nakayama, chairman of the Japan-Iran Parliamentarians Friendship League; and a visit to Japan in November by Vice President Esfandyar Rahim MASHAEE.

    This year, Minister for Foreign Affairs Hirofumi Nakasone held a telephone conference in January with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki (on the situation in Gaza). Mr. Samareh Hashemi, Senior Advisor to the President of Iran, visited Japan as a special presidential envoy, and met with Prime Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, and Foreign Minister Nakasone.

    In April, Foreign Minister Mottaki visited Japan to attend the Pakistan Donors Conference and met with Prime Minister Aso and Foreign Minister Nakasone.

    In June 2008, then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda held a summit meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Rome.

    In May 2009, Foreign Minister Nakasone visited Iran and met with President Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Mottaki, the first visit to Iran by a Japanese foreign minister in five and a half years, since the visit by then Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi in January 2004. Since 2006, talks between the foreign ministers of Japan and Iran have been held 16 times, including five meetings and 11 telephone conferences.

    Japan-Iran Economic Relations
    As of 2008, Iran was the third leading crude oil supply country to Japan, accounting for 11.8% of Japan’s oil imports, after Saudi Arabia with 27.8% and the UAE with 23.8%.
    More than 85% of the crude oil Japan imports is shipped by way of the Strait of Hormuz.

    As of 2006, Japan was Iran’s second largest trade partner after China. (Crude oil accounted for approximately 96% of Japan’s total imports from Iran.)

    The trade value between Japan and Iran was approximately 20.15 billion dollars in 2008, with 1.91 billion dollars of exports to Iran, and 18.24 billion dollars of imports to Japan (Source: Trade Statistics of Japan)

    As of October 2008, there were 711 Japanese nationals residing and 33 Japanese corporations (mainly trading companies) in Iran.

    It is deplorable that Iran has not complied with the requirements of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, including the suspension of uranium enrichment-related activities. The Iranian nuclear issue should be dealt with decisively in view of the need to
    maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and the implications for North Korea’s nuclear issue, as well as the need to ensure stability in the Middle East, which has a significant bearing on global energy supplies.

    ____________

    Link to American Enterprise Institute review of Iran-Japan Relations & Trade, 2009-2010
    June 28, 2010 :http://www.irantracker.org/foreign-relations/japan-iran-foreign-relations
    ________________________
    Iran says oil trade with China, Japan down
    :http://www.kippreport.com/2010/10/iran-says-oil-trade-with-china-japan-down/ (Reuters) October 29, 2010

    “The toughest sanctions have been imposed by the United States and the European Union.”
    Iran’s oil trade with China and Japan — two of its biggest markets — has fallen, but only temporarily, its OPEC governor was quoted as saying on Friday.
    “The reduction in the volume of oil trade between Iran and China and Japan is short term,” Mohammad Ali Khatibi said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

    Ahmadinejad says Iran-Japan trade ties should reach $50b
    :http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=229596
    Tehran Times Political Desk Nov 1, 2010
    TEHRAN – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suggested the value of trade ties between Iran and Japan should reach 50 billion dollars per year.
    “Iran-China trade volume has reached 30 billion dollars today, this amount should be 50 billion dollars between Iran and Japan,” Ahmadinejad said as he received the credentials of the new Japanese ambassador to Tehran, Kinichi Komano, on Sunday.

    The president went on to say that there is no negative point in relations between Japan and Iran and if there is, it has been caused by foreign interference.

    The president described Iran and Japan as two great and influential nations in the history of human civilization and said Tehran and Tokyo can turn the global condition in favor of independent nations through strengthening their relations.

    The president added, “Iran-Japan ties are stable and we see Japan at our front.”

    For his part, Komano said his country “will use every opportunity” to expand ties with Iran.
    ____________________________
    Link to Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs chronology of Japan-Iran Relations, 1929-2010
    December 2010 :http://www.mofa.go.jp/region/middle_e/iran/index.html

  42. fyi says:

    Arnold Evans says: March 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I think the major flaw in Axis Powers’ approach was the paradigm of (Military) balance of power without due attention to the existence of underlying Peace Interest that could support it.

    I think the paradigm was a misreadring of the history of the 100-year peace period following the Conference of Vienna which ended the Napoleonic Wars and lasted until WWI. There was actual Peace Interest in Europe.

    The other flaw of the Axis Powers is their conceptual approach to Suadi Arabia and indeed all the Arab states of Arabia. These are not states with institutions; nothing will survive the demise of the monarchies in those states. It would be a free-for-all; just imagine a family business in which the family that owns the company is removed with no heirs.

    There is no chance of building competent Armed Forces in these oil states that would obviate the need for US protection from external aggression. The reason is that the Family Business nature of these states: a competent military will remove these ruling houses from power.

    Look for more chaos as the ruling families decay and tribes start to compete against one another.

  43. Arnold: “Now it turns out you have no specific idea of why the US invaded Iraq.”

    I did not say that. I have the very specific idea that it was a confluence of the oil companies, the neocons, the Israel Lobby, and of course the MIC.

    If you’re looking for me to point at Israel like you do and say it was all Israel’s fault, that’s not going to happen because it was not all Israel’s fault.

    You’re the one with no theory except “things just happen except when it’s to Israel’s benefit then Israel is in charge.”

    That’s extremely simplistic. If you want a simple theory stick with that one, but it doesn’t explain a lot of things, as simple theories tend not to do.

  44. Arnold Evans says:

    The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was an important event and I think anyone here who has an explanation or thoughts of how and why it happened would be very helpful in posting their ideas.

    As briefly as I can:

    The US has to a greater or lesser degree since the foundation of Israel and/or the end of the British colonial empire worked to ensure a balance of power in the region of the Middle East. By balance of power, I mean it has had as a goal preventing one power, for example Iran from being in a position to overrun, for example, Arabia and coordinating the large stock of resources in a way that could directly or in alliance with any rival be harmful or threatening to the US.

    This is not unique to the Middle East. Germany and France should, according to US principles, each be unable to impose control over the other, Brazil and Argentina, Japan, Korea and China all should be roughly in balance. Just enough that none of the powers are able to use the resources available as a unit in a way that could potentially harm the US.

    What is unique to the Middle East is that there is a tiny country that the US has to a greater or lesser degree since its foundation, felt a responsibility to maintain. This is important because, for example, Arabia has a lot of oil and plenty of resources that it can remain independent of Iran, make sure it is not worth Iran’s while to try to capture – except that an Arabia that is too strong, could and would render Israel non-viable.

    So while the US pursues a balance of power strategy, in the Middle East it pursues a strategy of a balance of artificially weak powers. Arabia has to be both immune from domination by Iraq or Iran and also weak enough not to threaten Israel.

    Saddam Hussein, for his own reasons that are very interesting but tangential to this discussion was willing to attack Iran after Iran removed itself from the US colonial structure by expelling the Shah. The United States and its remaining regional colonies supported Hussein in this attack as an effort toward “dual containment”.

    By the time the war was over Iraq and Iran were both weakened. The US plan for Iraq was that it was to remain weak indefinitely because of service of war debts to the US colonies, low oil prices and lastly Kuwait – at US direction – would actually pump and sell oil from under Iraqi territory.

    When the Iran-Iraq war ended, the US did not need an active war in Iraq or Iran. Both were sufficiently weak and could be kept so through various methods of indirect economic warfare – sanctions and oil policies of the more reliable colonies.

    Hussein attempted to break out of Iraq’s containment by attacking Kuwait. I’ve read the report of the US ambassador to Iraq who some say encouraged Hussein to attack and I do not get that impression at all. While there were probably warning signs, Hussein’s attack on Kuwait was unexpected and potentially threatening to the balance of powers that are artificially weak enough not to threaten Israel in the region.

    The United States responded by directly intervening to remove Iraq from Kuwait and then by imposing sanctions far more brutal than those currently imposed by the US and Israel on Gaza. The United States limited the supply of protein to Iraqi civilians as well as water treatment technology and caused the premature deaths of over one million Iraqis.

    Which brings us to 2000.

    The reason for the sanctions, indeed for the encouragement by the US and its colonies of the Iran-Iraq war was to maintain a balance of power where countries in the region are too weak to threaten each other or Israel which is a tiny territory with a small concentrated population. The rationale of the sanctions was that Iraq had not complied with demands to remove any “weapons of mass destruction”.

    Iraq had complied with those demands. Iraq publicly and unambiguously stated on every possible occasion that it did not have them. Once sanctions were over, Iraq, as every country, would have had the capacity to rebuild its stocks. The United States, as it currently is regarding Iran, deliberately lied and effectively pressured the IAEA to go along with its lies in order to prevent Iraq from reaching a post-sanction state where it would be able to rebuild itself beyond the boundaries required in the US’ balance of artificially weak powers strategy for the region.

    It is also very interesting though mostly tangential to this discussion exactly how the US works itself into lying about Iraq’s weapons. It involves shifting definitions, presenting Iraq as a demon unworthy of any defense at all, tying the sanctions effort to anti-Semitism. The United States worked itself into a frenzy and some of the Americans lying about Iraq could have easily passed lie detector tests or comfortably put their hands on stacks of bibles partly because they believed what they were saying, partly because they felt justified in making any possible negative statement about Iraq, just to be sure.

    So what the United States faced in 2000 was a situation where the justification of the sanctions was wearing thinner, the effects of the sanctions were disgusting enough that it was becoming increasingly difficult for the United States to get cooperation in maintaining them and Hussein was developing ways to advance state aims despite the sanctions, and these methods would only become more effective over time.

    The situation when George W. Bush came to office was actually sustainable from the US/Israel point of view for the most part. Iraq was not going to be a threat to capture Kuwait or Arabia for an extended period of time even if it became better at managing the sanctions against it. The situation though, was not optimal. The US would have preferred Iraq be ruled by someone more like Mubarak, or Iran’s previous Shah or the leaders of the members of the US colonial structure in the region such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and others.

    Iraq could provide resources for anti-Israel groups and was an irritant but not a strategic threat and the pertinent question would have been would it be worth the cost to remove Hussein? The answer in 1991 was no. The US did not occupy the country. That remained the answer through the Clinton administration and I think may have remained the answer to this day if there had been no 9/11 attack.

    The 9/11 attacks unleashed in the United States a desire for vengeance against Muslims and against Arabs that Bush decided could be directed against Iraq. Iraq was not in any conceivable way a threat to the United States and was an irritant but not a strategic threat to Israel.

    (As an aside, Iran, in showing how to prepare a group to actually hold its ground in full conflict with Israel, is moving from irritant to actual strategic threat to Israel, though it is not nearly as threatening as it would be if it, or a country anything as close to its people in policy preferences as Iran is was located, say, where Egypt is located.)

    However, with the United States in a mood to avenge an attack by Arabs and Muslims and a figure in Ahmed Chalabi who seemed at the time to be willing and able to be for Iraq what Mubarak was for Egypt, an invasion of Iraq became feasible.

    Here I also want to talk about the US vision of democracy. Iraq was, by the 2003 US plan, to be a managed democracy, the way Afghanistan is. US approved candidates would run essentially unopposed. Political parties potentially hostile the US and Israel would be banned. Joe Biden said, nearly at the height of the Tahrir Square protests, that Hosni Mubarak is not a dictator. The intention in 2003 was for Chalabi to fill that position for Iraq – which would be, from the US point of view, a tremendous improvement over Hussein.

    The WMD had just been a pretext to impose sanctions to savagely punish the Iraqi nation for attempting to break out of the balance of artificially weak powers the US maintains in the Middle East out of necessity for Israel. When the US decided it might as well replace Hussein with Chalabi, the pretext moved over to a justification for an invasion. That pretext had been transparently false ever since the George H.W. Bush administration said to the New York Times that it would not lift the sanctions as long as Hussein remained in power, regardless of removing any WMD.

    Iraq’s Shiites, Sistani, and the remnants of Iraq’s military in their insurgency prevented the US from installing Chalabi as a stooge “not a dictator” against all expectations in the US in 2003. How that happened is also an interesting but tangential story.

    Which brings us to today.

    The 2003 US project to turn Iraq into 2010 Egypt or 1978 Iran failed and the US has no hope of salvaging it. Maintaining a balance of power in the medium term now pretty much means abandoning Israel and letting Arabia really develop an indigenous military capacity to hold its own balance.

    Obama expressed hope that this situation could be avoided by reaching a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian conflict that would grant Israel legitimacy in the region so that a developed Arabia and region would not be a threat. That hope, always unrealistic, has now been dashed except in the minds of the most stubborn supporters of Israel.

    Obama also hopes that the US can trigger an economic crisis in Iran that can be exploited to remove Iran’s current government and replace it with one that rules in opposition to the values of the Iranian people the way the Shah did or Mubarak did Egypt. Iran has been through externally imposed economic crises before. This hope is also unrealistic – the vigorous efforts of people like George Soros and our own Scott Lucas notwithstanding.

    The United States expended a tremendous amount of resources intervening in Iraq and, contrary to its expectations, failed. If the United States was to try again in Iran, Syria and Iraq again, it would not have the expectations it had in 2003 it would just be knowingly throwing resources away. We are not going to see that. We are going to see the United States remove itself over the next 20 years from its balance of artificially weak powers strategy as gracefully as it can given Israel’s position in its domestic political situation, on terms as favorable as it can manage for Israel and for the Jewish people of Israel.

    How favorable the most favorable terms the US can manage actually are remains to be seen. But the 1948-2003 US Middle East strategy is over.

  45. Empty says:

    RE: “It is important I think to realize the handicap of soft power when faced with a situations such as Saudi troops (supposedly not) invading Bahrain.”

    1. The nature of the two types of power is such that two variables of “time” and “space/geography” always, by design, work in favor of the soft power and against the hard power. As an Afghan warrior once said, “the west may own these expensive watches (pointing to a European reporter’s wrist wearing an expensive watch), but we own the time.”

    2. The introduction of military power to invade another land has always marked the beginning of an end for its operators. More accurate calculation to conduct is “how fast” the end arrives.

    3. The Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (symbolic representations of US power in the region) have already decayed but forgotten to collapse.

    4. The only way the Uncle House of Cards could buy more time [with the money it doesn't have (borrowed from Central Banks of China and Japan - no longer feasible) to extend the hold it doesn't have] is by creating a direct military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. This WILL NOT happen.

  46. fyi says:

    All:

    Off-Topic but Relevant to India-Iran relations.

    India’s Iran policy: designed for ‘domestic consumption’?

    Hasan Suroor

    LONDON: The U.S. administration believes that India’s Iran policy is meant for “public consumption,” mostly to please the “domestic Muslim and Non-Aligned Movement audience,” according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and accessed by The Hindu.

    In a series of communications, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi gave a downbeat assessment of India-Iran relations, arguing that for all the public show of warmth towards Tehran, India’s policy is based on a “hard-nosed calculation of its interests, not in public appeals to the historical and cultural ties between Tehran and New Delhi.”

    One cable (195906: confidential/noforn), dated March 9, 2009 said: “Much of India’s Iran policy is designed for public consumption by the domestic Muslim and Non-Aligned Movement audience. We can expect that India will continue an active dialogue with Iran through high-level visits and working groups, at times in ways that are likely to appear to us as too much ‘business as usual’.”

    Two other “key factors” behind India’s interest in maintaining a positive relationship with Iran, it says, are “its energy needs and its desire to play well with others in the region, especially at times when India’s relationship with Pakistan (which Iran also shares a border with) is increasingly contentious.”

    Another cable (199213: confidential/noforn), dated March 27, 2009, quotes K.C. Singh, the Indian Ambassador to Iran, as telling a senior U.S. diplomat that there was “a misconception in the West that India has a close relationship with Iran”. On the contrary, there was “minimal trust between the two states.”

    Singh explained that the Indo-Iranian relationship has not been managed well in the last decade. He characterized India’s inability to deal with both the U.S. and Iran simultaneously, without ‘upsetting’ one or the other, as a failure of Indian diplomacy,” the cable said, reporting discussions between the U.S. Acting Political Counselor in New Delhi and Mr. Singh.

    Mr. Singh, who served in Tehran from 2003 to 2005, was reported as saying that India’s leverage with Iran had “significantly decreased.” He expressed “uncertainty at how much India would be able to accomplish with regard to Iran” in future.

    Singh attributed this in large part to India’s vote against Iran at the IAEA in 2005. Despite the common strategic interest shared by Iran and India in countering the Taliban in Afghanistan, there is minimal trust between the two states. The Government of Iran is suspicious of India’s ruling Congress Party for its perceived pro-U.S. leanings and considers India’s voting at the IAEA in past years as a betrayal, according to Singh,” the cable said.

    It concluded that America had “the opportunity to work with India on Iran, but in order to do so, we must lay the groundwork to convince India of where our interests converge.”

  47. Fiorangela says:

    Dan Cooper, I was extremely disappointed and disheartened to hear Marcy Kaptor, US Representative from Ohio, on C Span this morning. In the past, Kaptor had been exquisitely rational and capable of being critical of US administration policies and philosophy. Today, she sounded like a flunky; “Americans bring liberty around the world, that’s what we do; it makes me cry to think of it . . .” and “Our army is the finest in the world; it’s the best in the world. . .and patriotic . . .they work so hard to preserve the freedoms that the American people enjoy . . .finest in the world . . .”

    The even greater tragedy is that Mrs. Kaptor’s special audience this morning was high school students who had a special line to communicate with Kaptor and C Span. And that is the rah-rah drivel she fed them.

  48. BiBiJon says:

    fyi says:
    March 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

    fyi, I’d love to get a hold of the book, ‘how to radicalize docile beeble’, that seems to be the rage among the elite of the Mid East.

  49. BiBiJon says:

    Persian Gulf says:
    March 15, 2011 at 8:35 am

    PG, thanks for the link. Reading Pepe’s piece, a few thoughts came to mind.

    Hillary’s lecture was about ascendancy of soft power (exercised by Iran) vs hard power.

    It is important I think to realize the handicap of soft power when faced with a situations such as Saudi troops (supposedly not) invading Bahrain.

    However, there are two different clocks that govern soft vs hard. Soft power obviously cannot respond to a fast-paced projection of hard power. But, hard power is unsustainable in the span of time that is the domain of soft power.

    US through her proxy, Saudi Arabia, has unleashed a military campaign against defenseless civilians. In the long run, US’ relationship with Saudi Arabia will be a source of geostrategic weakness now that SA has instigated Arab-on-Arab violence.

  50. fyi says:

    All:

    The introduction of Sunni Arab troops from Saudi Arbai to suppress a popular uprising in Bharain is going to lead, in my judegement, to the overthrow of the government of Bahrain.

    I cannot predict the length of time before that government is overthrown but it cannot be more than 2 generations (40 years).

    Depending on the amount of violence against Shia Bahrainis, they will be disabused of their pan-Arab sentiments. They will most likely go through the same process as Lebanese Shia and the Iraqi Shia went through; coming out having declared for Mr. Khamenei.

  51. Arnold Evans says:

    RSH:

    I say that for the foreseeable future, unless something tangible changes, there will not be a US attack on Iran. You don’t actually disagree with me, except that you say something may happen at any time, and that you have no specific idea of when or why.

    Now it turns out you have no specific idea of why the US invaded Iraq. Vaguely it had something to do with corruption or the MIC or something. Other people may have detailed explanations, but you aren’t able to even summarize those other people’s explanations except to say that it has something to do with corruption or the MIC or something.

    You don’t need any theory, any analysis to produce the conclusions you’ve reached.

    You’re arguing with me, but if I wanted to argue back, I have nothing to argue against. You don’t have a theory that could even be wrong.

  52. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Bahrain declares state of emergency

    http://www.presstv.com/detail/170049.html

  53. Persian Gulf says:

    House of Saud ‘liberates’ Bahrain
    By Pepe Escobar

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC16Ak03.html

  54. Empty says:

    Iranian@Iran says, “The Jordanian dictator was invited 8 months ago and before the current situation. Apparently, the Iranian government is unwilling to receive him now”

    If indeed the Jordanian King has seriously considered coming to Iran now, it is an excellent prognosis for Iran and the advancement of her soft power in the region.

  55. Current status of the Libyan situation, according to Time.

    The Libyan Civil War: Gaddafi’s Strategies for Victory
    :http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2058832,00.html

  56. Arnold: I’m going to pass on writing up my opinion of the sequence of events leading to the Iraq war. I especially am not that familiar with the behind the scenes events leading to the first Gulf War. I know the public events, but it’s not clear to me what was going on in the Bush 41 administration that lead to the first Gulf War as compared to what was apparently going on in the Bush 43 administration leading to the Iraq war.

    I’ll be interested in your impressions if you decide to write your version.

    I tend not to be interested in the details of these events because 1) generally we don’t know them until well after the event, and 2) in the end it tends to be very specific and only in historical hindsight do we get to extrapolate what it all means relative to previous US events.

    I think Noam Chomsky tends to do a good job of burrowing through tons of US official documents to come up with detailed explanations of why things have happened over the last fifty years or more. I’m not that good at that. So I tend to accept the explanations of those who have done the leg work, like Chomsky, Palast, Chalmers Johnson, etc. So I’m afraid if I did write up my impressions of why the events of the last decade or two occurred, it would have to involve reference to these primary researchers.

    When I explain events in terms of the corruption of the US system, it is because I’ve read enough about that corruption from numerous sources over the last thirty years, and especially since 2003 when I took a specific interest in US foreign policy as a result of the Iraq war. As an anarchist, I was fully aware since the 1970′s of the corruption of the political system of the US and the rest of the world. But in terms of foreign policy I have only been following these events closely and reading up on it since 2003.

    As a result of my philosophical orientation, I am not one to be affected by the cognitive dissonance I see in most so-called “liberals”, who view the US state as primarily oriented to “doing good” but just a little incompetent at it and who believe that with the “right guy” (who in 2008 was Obama) things could be made “better”. In fact, their naivety amuses me when it doesn’t enrage me. People like Matt Yglesias, Joseph Cirincione, and other Very Serious People (and wannabe VSPs like Yglesias) are forever touting solutions to the world’s problems which 1) never seem to be implemented, and 2) when implemented don’t work as expected. But they persist in believing in their view of the world because frankly they couldn’t function if they did otherwise. It’s called cognitive dissonance, the selective editing of their view of the world necessary to enable their handling of their emotions, usually fear.

    Because the state holds great power over the population, most of the population are predisposed to both fear the state and support the state, and more importantly believe the state is beneficial, because if they did not believe this it would mean that they were vulnerable to the state’s bad intentions. And this arouses fear, causing people to want to suppress that fear. So they deny their actual perceptions and edit them to support their belief system.

    People don’t believe there will be a war with Iran, or some other country, on top of the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan because to do so means they would have to believe that the US state has corrupt motives, not honorable ones. Most people are afraid to believe that. So they don’t and edit all the evidence to the contrary out of their consciousness, no matter how weak their arguments.

    In your specific case, you decided that since no war has happened yet, there has to be a reason, and you’ve latched onto the notion that Iran has “deterrents” which are effective and/or that there are other constraints on the US leadership – despite the fact that if the US leadership really believed Iraq had WMDs, Iraq would have had the same deterrents, and that if there real domestic constraints on the US leadership they should have been applied equally as in the case of Iran, But in fact this did not affect the Iraq war. So either the US leadership did not believe Iraq had WMDs OR that belief did not prevent the Iraq war OR the constraints on the actions of the US leadership were not effective in preventing the war.

    In short, the history of the US behavior up to this point establishes that your notions of the belief system of the US leadership and/or the alleged constraints on their behavior simply did not hold in 2001, 2002 and 2003 – and there is little evidence that they hold now other than the simple fact that no war has occurred yet in Iran, The operative word being “yet”.

    In the meantime, the US leadership continues to pursue a completely failed war in Afghanistan and shows every intent of continuing that war through the next five years or more, without a single shred of evidence of anything remotely resembling “success”, and despite the overwhelming public opinion that the war is a waste of money and lives.

    I’ve given up on that sort of Pollyanna attitude and moved on to a realistic view of the world. As Lee Marvin’s character said in Gorky Park, “You see, corruption is part of us. All of us. The very heart of us…” It’s certainly the heart of the US state apparatus.

  57. Castellio: Good point on the Egyptian military being involved with the economics of Egypt. The same situation, I understand, applies in Pakistan. The only difference between that and the US situation, I think, is that the military in those countries and others directly controls the economy. Even in Israel, the military is heavily involved in funding and supporting the Israeli tech industry. In other words, it would seem in those countries that the corporate world is more or less subordinate to the military. But I could be wrong about that.

    In the US, however, the military at least seems to be separate from the MIC to some degree, except that retiring officers tend to move onto the boards and occasionally the staff of the MIC corporations. I’d say the corporate-Pentagon relationship is more two-way than one-way, but I think the direct corporate influence is greater than the direct military influence on the Congress.

    I think this is a consequence of the general US history of having the military subordinate to the civilian authority, whereas in other countries the civilian authority for historical reasons tends to be subordinate to the military.

    Either way, though, it’s an unholy alliance which doesn’t do any country any good. In the case of Egypt, I think the Egyptian people place a bit too much emphasis on their military “protecting the people” since their military certainly didn’t mind Mubarak oppressing the people for decades. As a matter of practicality, in the recent revolt the Egyptians probably were correct not to directly confront the military. But they should remain suspicious of the military’s motivations and own interests as not necessarily being the same as the people’s interests. As Hillary noted in her talk, the Egyptian military’s first official act was to tell the US it would continue to recognize the Israel peace treaty, because that was the US Congress’ priority, otherwise the Egyptian military might lose their lucrative US foreign aid.

  58. Dan Cooper says:

    “Support the troops” originated in the public relations department of the military/security complex. What “support the troops” really means is to support the profits of the armaments industry and the neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony.

    “Support the troops” is a clever PR slogan that causes Americans to turn a blind eye to the brutal exploitation of our soldiers and military families for profit and for an evil ideology.

    Our soldiers and military families are paying for the Bush/Cheney/Obama/neocon wars with lives, limbs, post-traumatic stress, suicides, broken marriages, children without fathers, wives without husbands, and parents without sons and daughters.

    “Support the troops” is one of the most cruel hoaxes in human history, and yet the vast majority of the population has fallen for it. “War Is Peace.”

    When a people are so gullible, it is little wonder that they can be marched off to unaffordable open-ended wars based on nothing but lies, deceptions, and fabrications.

    The US government, which is profligate in its wars, profligate in tax cuts and bailouts for the mega-rich, and profligate in giving unlimited monopoly power to unregulated financial institutions, blames the resulting financial crisis on “handouts” to the poor and “entitlements” to the elderly.

    Such deception needs more than exposure. It cries out for a 21st century Orwell.

    http://www.vdare.com/roberts/110313_universal_deceit.htm

  59. kooshy says:

    RSH
    “This isn’t prediction, its tea leaf and entrails reading. It’s assumptions which have already been proven false by the history of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Remember those wars? Would you have predicted those wars in 1985 based on your concepts? How about 1995, even after the first Gulf War?”

    The answer is yes, if only one would have paid enough attention to carter’s declaration of 1980, with that declaration direct military involvement of US in some future time was inevitable, and now has to play itself out with a Vietnam type defeat.

  60. Arnold Evans says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    How about this. Explain in as much detail as you can what led to the 2003 Iraq invasion. Please in your own words, not Greg Palast’s or someone else’s. Who made the decision, how and why? If someone else explained it, don’t just say someone else explained it. Summarize the best explanation you’re aware of in your own words. Please start your narrative before the 1990 Gulf war.

    I’ll write mine as soon as I have a decent interval of time. I wish I could now, but I’m really called away.

    I actually think this would be a very interesting exercise for everyone. Explain in your own words why the US invaded Iraq in 2003.

  61. Iranian@Iran says:

    The Jordanian dictator was invited 8 months ago and before the current situation. Apparently, the Iranian government is unwilling to receive him now:

    http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8912240001

  62. Iranian@Iran says:

    Bahraini

    “When I watch what’s happening in Bahrain on Almanar and Alalam, I pray that people like Scott Lucas (who said in Cambridge that “we” shouldn’t attack Iran because it would hurt the green scum!) get what they deserve.”

    Have no doubt that the filthy US government and it’s mercenaries have been exposed for what they are. Those of us who live in the Middle East know what’s going on and people here have very long memories.

  63. Castellio says:

    RSH: It’s good to see you questioning Arnold on his beliefs regarding the rational evolution of foreign policy in the US, and it will be good to see his response.

    It reflects a desire we all have to establish a predictive basis for American foreign policy, as well as being a continuation of the on-going clarification of what either of you means when you use the word “American” or the “US”.

    But, just a small point incidental to the major thrust of your comments. When you write: “I will agree with that to a certain degree. But the US armed forces are not the Egyptian armed forces. The leaders of the US military are pimarily concerned with their advancement in the ranks and their subsequent retirement to the boards of corporations.”… it would have been absolutely correct to write, that up until a month ago, “the leaders of the Egyptian military are primarily concerned with their advancement in the ranks and their subsequent retirement to the boards of corporations.” And that might be their major preoccupation again soon.

    That is, the military control of the economy in Egypt penetrates as far, I believe, as that of the US.

    The fusion of unrivalled corporate interests with military power has, in all advanced capitalist societies, led to fascism. Can a mass movement like we’ve seen in Egypt (which is not an advanced capitalist society) steer clear of that trend?

    It’s fascinating that the new Minister of Agriculture in Egypt has mentioned working towards self-sufficiency in wheat production… a condition that was given over for the cash crop of cotton at the beginning of the European imperial era. I think it’s possible, the long-term crisis will be accessing the water of the Nile, which is now increasingly in dispute upstream.

  64. Iranian says:

    Pak

    There was no Arabian Gulf sign. Go and look at the Ahmadinejad Karrubi debate and you’ll see that you and Karrubi are illiterate in Arabic.

  65. Arnold: “I partially agree with this statement but one problem I have with it is that I can’t see explanatory or predictive power in it.”

    Then you’re not looking hard enough, at past history in particular. Greg Palast has detailed the oil industry’s influence on the Iraq war, numerous others have detailed the Israel Lobby’s influence on US foreign policy, particularly with regard to Iraq and Iran.

    “The military industrial complex (I don’t like that term either because it just sounds big and vague and has built in sinister connotations – I’d prefer arms industry)”

    Sorry – but Dwight Eisenhower coined the terms and the abbreviation MIC is now used frequently if you don’t like the full phrase. “Arms industry” also has the connotation of referring merely to arms dealers, which is not what the MIC is. The MIC is broader than those who merely build or deal in arms. Victor Bount is an “arms industry” guy, but he’s not the MIC.

    “Is the United States maximizing arms sales? Is the United States maximizing the price of oil? Is the United States maximizing Israel’s strength relative to its neighbors?”

    I dismiss all this rhetorical questioning as simplistic in the extreme. No one is saying the MIC, the oil companies or even the Israel Lobby can order a new war every other Tuesday. That’s just a ridiculous red herring. Also, as the conflict between the oil companies and the neocons detailed by Greg Palast shows, although these factions mostly cooperate to gin up a war, they don’t always cooperate.

    “then there are constraints on the lobbies you’ve identified. What are those constraints? The US has a capacity to direct its actions to advance broader goals than the three specific agendas you’ve mentioned.”

    The constraints are many: the real world doesn’t follow anyone’s theory or intentions precisely. If that isn’t obvious to you, I don’t know what to tell you.

    You complain that identifying these factions as primary movers in US foreign policy has no predictive value. But your theory – to the degree that it even is a theory, and frankly I can’t even see the outlines of a theory in your response – has zero predictive value. All you can do is “predict a negative” – something won’t happen because…well, because supposedly there are “constraints” or “deterrents”, all of which are “proven” simply because a war hasn’t happened in Iran…YET.

    This isn’t prediction, it’s tea leaf and entrails reading. It’s assumptions which have already been proven false by the history of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Remember those wars? Would you have predicted those wars in 1985 based on your concepts? How about 1995, even after the first Gulf War? Whereas had I been interested enough to think about in 1985 or 1995, yes, I would have predicted those wars – not with any precision, of course, but certainly as a likely possibility, especially if we knew in advance things like the PNAC documents, the Bush plan to attack Afghanistan prior to 9/11, etc.

    But really, in the end, it’s just a view of US history that provides the predictability. Eisenhower wasn’t even the first to predict the rise of corporate power as a negative. That honor goes to Abraham Lincoln. All Eisenhower did was become aware of the rise of the defense industry (if you don’t like the MIC term) and realize that corporate power influences the US state.

    “I argue that the US’ primary goal in the Middle East is ensuring that no regional power can threaten Israel and that all other goals are subordinate to that. US oil companies are cut off from profiting from transactions with Iran. US arms companies cannot sell missiles that would threaten Israel to Egypt or Saudi Arabia, to say nothing of Iran or Syria.”

    First of all, one has to explain why a bunch of Ango-Saxon WASPS really care about Israel all that much. This is YOUR obsession, not mine. I include all the factions: the MIC, the oil companies, the Israel Lobby, and others in my theory. Yours is limited to: Israel rules the world and totally controls US foreign policy – even where Israel has no foreign policy interest, such as over Taiwan, North Korea, etc. This is a theory which again is little more than an obsession.

    “But there is a limit to what the US is willing or able to pay for Israel’s protection and that limit is set in Washington DC by the US foreign policy establishment, including members of congress, members of the Obama administration and non-official members of the foreign policy establishment such as at CFR and at the New York Times and at think tanks such as the Brookings institution.”

    And you think those people operate in a vacuum of influence?

    “While the US foreign policy establishment is influenced by the narrow agendas you’ve identified there are clearly other influences. The single most highly regarded element of the US foreign policy establishment is the armed forces.”

    I will agree with that to a certain degree. But the US armed forces are not the Egyptian armed forces. The leaders of the US military are pimarily concerned with their advancement in the ranks and their subsequent retirement to the boards of corporations.

    “The armed forces are primarily nationalistic, trained at least since WWII to think broadly about global US strategic power and very sensitive to US troop losses.”

    They are trained to think in the political terms set for them by the civilian leaders and the civilian think-tanks, and the rest of the time they think in narrow militarily strategic terms which are applicable regardless of what the foreign policy is.

    “It seems to me that the armed forces opposed both the attack on Iran and the partition of Iraq.”

    The former is possible, the latter is questionable. A FEW US generals opposed Iraq. In the end, the war happened. So where was the overwhelming constraint? Once again, if you look at history rather than speculation, the US military controls nothing.

    “In those two situations, it seems to me those considerations: the safety of troops in Iraq and the global strategic importance of Turkey in a potential conflict with a Russian power overrode the narrow interests you identified and will consistently do so.”

    Again, there is little evidence of the effects you are ASSUMING existed in reality, and secondly there is little evidence of the persistence of those limited effects in conflict with other motivations.

    “Reading public information, we can get a pretty good idea of what the US foreign policy establishment perceives in the world.”

    First of all, the foreign policy establishment sets policies based on two sources: theory and influence. They come up with theory and then theory is modified to support the influences that set the agenda. Because the influences of those who stand to gain are always in the end the deciding factor in setting the agenda, overwhelming theory. Again, the perfect example is the oil companies vs the neocons as to how Iraqi oil should be treated.

    Secondly, the foreign policy establishment doesn’t always tell the truth. In fact, they spend most of their time BS’ing the public to conceal their actual influences. The Israel Lobby is clearly the best example in that regard.

    “The United States seems to really see Iranian enrichment as a threat.”

    Once again, there IS NO “United States” in this regard. You always drop back to an overly broad generalization when discussing these matters, because you think it supports your notions. Eric does the same thing.

    The top level political leaders in this country – meaning Obama and his closest advisers – know full well that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Just like Bush and Cheney knew full well that Iraq did not WMDs. Period. End of story.

    Just because a bunch of foreign policy types and neocons browbeat Iran at every opportunity doesn’t mean they really believe – or have even bothered to find out – whether Iran has a nuclear weapons program, any more than in the case of Iraq’s WMDs.

    Are you saying Wolfowitz and the rest really believed Iraq was in cahoots with Al Qaeda, that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program, that Iraq was an “imminent threat” to the United States from ships loaded with biological weapons launching drones off our coasts (as some whackos were saying back in 2003)?

    So why should I believe that the Zionist freaks surrounding Obama today are being any more truthful when they declare they believe Iran is a threat to the US?

    “The United States does not consider the current operations in Iraq or Afghanistan sustainable and wants to reduce both.”

    Really? Just today I read Petraeus is preparing an “upbeat” report on Afghanistan. Apparently he thinks he’s winning the war, contrary to all other evidence put forth over the past year by dozens of more independent sources. And he’s the general in charge. How come you aren’t crediting him with knowing what’s what since you credit the generals will stopping any further useless wars?

    “It absolutely is not the case though that the interests of the US population are completely disregarded by the US foreign policy establishment.”

    This is just delusional.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree here. You’re simply unable to comprehend the depth of corruption of the US establishment which has been documented by hundreds of observers over the last century. You still have some Pollyanna notion that the US public “somehow” controls the US state in any way that ultimately matters, and that this “control” works entirely to validate your assumptions about the future as opposed to mine.

    Good luck with that.

  66. Empty says:

    James and BibiJon,

    RE: “James I agree with regards to the King’s invitation.”

    Broujerdi, the head of Majlis National Security and Foreign Relations Committee in an interview today said, “The other side of King Abdollah’s trip to Iran indicates that the position of US allies in the region has weakened and in lieu of the current events, these countries are trying to get closer to Iran so that they could balance and secure their own positions with respect to the public opinion. Overall, my opinion about King Abdollah’s trip to Iran is not positive.”

    From: http://www.mehrnews.com/fa/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1274348

  67. Empty says:

    James and BibiJon,

    RE: “James I agree with regards to the King’s invitation.”

    Broujerdi, the head of Majlis National Security and Foreign Relations Committee in an interview today said, “The other side of King Abdollah’s trip to Iran indicates that the position of US allies in the region has weakened and in lieu of the current events, these countries are trying to get closer to Iran so that they could balance and secure their own positions with respect to the public opinion. Overall, my opinion about King Abdollah’s trip to Iran is not positive.”

  68. Maryam says:

    James Canning:

    Netanyahu, of course, wants to keep the Golan Heights. A delusion.}

    This line is the reason behind zionist wars in the region. Israel’s expansionist policy is the primary motivation which has been sold to American elite as American interest. This is a HOAX. Israel and US interests are OPPOSITE of each other. People MUST read Oded Yinon ‘protocol’ and A CLEAN BREAK to understand
    what is going on.

    {

  69. BiBiJon says:

    James Canning says:
    March 14, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    James I agree with regards to the King’s invitation.

    Iran’s priority is to thin out the choir cantilating ‘cut off the head of the snake’ hymns led by Western Maestros Milliband/Clinton/Kouchner. Welcoming the ouster of shaky rulers positions Iran to have a workable relationship with their replacement. Reaching out to relatively secure leaders of the Arab world serves the same purpose. As a whole, Iran cannot afford to be seen as wanting revolutions more than the people of a given country does.

    It is smart politics, especially in a time of regional turmoil.

    Iran needs to signal whoever is not tossed aside by popular revolts, coops, etc. can still expect mutually respectful, non-interfering relationship with Iran.

  70. Dan Cooper says:

    MNA Amir Khadir to give talk on the boycott of Israel

    La version française suit…

    http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=7zk64gcab&v=001Uw9QefivccJeaYH2litVLFltKzgPFjXQuHAIZcE1lbwYRTOTQfZq4n0kYhdeNFwAz028U41CdRJ_h7YLXz8at8ocuhecCYse3jegBhwjAEE%3D

    Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is pleased to host a lecture with Dr. Amir Khadir on the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) against the Israeli occupation on Thursday, March 24th.

    The conference is being hosted in partnership with the Coalition for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and will be entitled Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: the right to say no to the Israeli occupation.

    The lecture will focus on how BDS directed at Israel is necessary for a just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and how to overcome the obstacles to its implementation in Quebec.

    The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in room N-M150 at Building Paul-Gérin-Lajoie of the UQAM (1205 St-Denis St., at the corner of René-Lévesque Boulevard.) Space is limited therefore telephone reservation is required for media to attend the event (438-380-5410.)

  71. Fiorangela says:

    Maryam — an older examination of the Yinon plan, from Counterpunch, April 2006

  72. This appeared on Al-Arabiya’s website:

    QUOTATION:

    “Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has told Gaddafi he should name a president with popular support as a way to end his country’s crisis. Erdogan told Al Arabiya television in an interview he expected Gaddafi to take ‘positive steps in this direction’.

    ‘We want a halt to the fighting by both of the sides, both in the east and west of Libya,’ Erdogan said.

    Gaddafi has been Libya’s leader for four decades but does not carry the title of president.

    ‘I called Gaddafi three times and I proposed to him that all the while he says that he is not a president, that he nominates someone picked by him who enjoys the support of the Libyan people to be the president for the coming period,’ Erdogan said.”

    END OF QUOTATION.

    I hope something got lost in the translation here. Asking the Libyan people for an up or down vote on a single candidate hand-picked by Gaddafi wouldn’t be exactly the “democracy” the Libyans have a right to expect.

  73. Pak says:

    The “invasion” of Bahrain (borrowing the inflammatory/incorrect terminology used by Press TV) was approved by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

    This is the same council that Ahmadinejad attended in 2007, when he sat silently under a huge sign that gleamed the words “Arabian Gulf”.

  74. James Canning says:

    Maryam,

    I think France and Britain have been trying to improve relations with Syria. But the Hariri assassination investigation has caused problems in Lebanon, for sure.

    Netanyahu, of course, wants to keep the Golan Heights. A delusion.

  75. James Canning says:

    Empty,

    Thanks. I think the Iranian lawmaker is wrong and that inviting King Abdullah II to Iran would be an excellent idea, in the best interests of both countries. BTW, I am an admirer of Prince Hassan of Jordan and his efforts to resolve Israel/Palestine problem.

  76. Pirouz says:

    Latest Iran Public Opinion Poll on Subsidy Reforms, Jobs, Inflation and Sanctions:

    http://www.uskowioniran.com/2011/03/latest-poll-on-subsidy-reforms-jobs.html

    Poll (Persian):
    www |dot| donya-e-eqtesad |dot| com/Default_view.asp?@=246973

  77. Empty says:

    James Canning,

    Most of the news about it in Mehr News and in Farsi but this one is in English:

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/169884.html

    A lot of vigorous opposition by MPs and some university students, it appears.

  78. Rehmat says:

    Anti-State activities – “American Justice vs Cuban Justice”

    http://rehmat2.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/us-cuba-has-no-right-to-jail-jew-criminals/

  79. Maryam says:

    Best analysis of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa is gien by
    MEHDI DARIUS NAZEMROAYA. You should read his articles: He writes:

    {The “Yinon Approach” in the Middle East and North Africa

    While there is a move for unity amongst the people of the Middle East and North Africa, there is also a counter-push seeking their division. Either directly or indirectly, the Yinon Approach has been operational amongst the Arabs and in their region. In the backdrop, it is also a force in the Arab World.

    According to the Yinon Plan, Iraq was the largest Arab threat to Tel Aviv. That threat was removed with the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Currently, Iraq is divided alongside Kurdish, Sunni Muslim Arab, and Shiite Muslim Arab lines. Political parties in Iraq are increasingly based on sectarian schemes. The power sharing arrangements in Baghdad increasingly resemble those in Beirut, Lebanon. Since 2003, the U.S. has actively pushed ahead with a soft form of balkanization in Iraq through federalization. Moreover, Israel has been a major supporter of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

    Along with its U.S. and Western European partners, Israel is working to divide Lebanon and destabilize Syria through the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). It can even be said that Tel Aviv has its own version of a Zionist lobby in Lebanon within the March 14 Alliance. It should come as no surprise that Bashar (Bachir/Bashir) Gemayal, an Israeli ally and the assassinated former president of Lebanon, wanted Lebanon to become a de-centralized federal state with a canton system modelled on Switzerland. Only in Lebanon the canton system would be based on ethno-religious and confessional lines, rather than on linguistic demarcations as in the Swiss confederation.

    Instead of uniting the Lebanese, such a system would further magnify the sectarian atmosphere in Lebanon and play into the hands of Washington and Tel Aviv.

    The Israelis have divided Palestine with the instigation of a Palestinian mini-civil war in the Gaza Strip. The Israelis even gleefully began to talk about a “three state solution” after the Hamas-Fatah split in 2007. In Turkey, the Alawis (Alavis in Turkish) are beginning to demand greater recognition by Ankara. In Egypt, there has been a campaign against the Coptic Christians with the objective of creating Muslim-Christian tensions. In Iraq too, Christians have been targeted by unknown forces. Sudan has been balkanized with the secession of South Sudan, which Israel heavily supported and armed. In Libya there is a foreign-supported push to manipulate tribal difference and divide the country along the lines of Eastern Libya and Western Libya. At the same time, the House of Saud has been encouraging a confessional divide between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims and between Arabs and Iranians.

    Israel, like the U.S. and the E.U., is working to take advantage of the upheavals in the Arab World. It has intensified its sporadic attacks on Gaza while the Arab World has been distracted with the events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere. Yet, this Yinon Approach will increasingly be challenged by pan-Arabism. The cooperation between Syria, Turkey, and Iran to form a regional bloc and common market may also prove to defy the Yinon Approach. In this context, Tehran is also working to support the protests in the Arab World and to align Iran with them.}

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23542

  80. James Canning says:

    Empty,

    I don’t know if the King of Jordan has been invited to Iran for that celebration, but it would be a good thing.

  81. James Canning says:

    Rd.,

    While Israel is only too happy to have the Arab countries at odds with each other, and with Iran, why would this suit “Brussels”? Gaddafi warned the EU that millions of Africans would be trying to get to Europe through Libya if Europe did not help him to control his borders. Egypt is badly over-populated, and surely it is in the best interests of the EU for Egypt to prosper as soon and as much as possible. Even if Israel doesn’t like it.

  82. BiBiJon says:

    Eric,

    I believe it was toward the end of the q/a segment.

  83. BiBiJon,

    “On your point 1, You may have missed the part when Hillary said ‘Iran is not looking for a leadership role.’”

    I did miss that. Is it in Hillary’s speech? It’s not in the summary, which left me with the impression that Hillary believes Iran will have a leadership role.

  84. Rd. says:

    BiBiJon says:
    within the next few months ….
    BiBiJon, this might cover some of your questions…

    “the “Yinon Approach.” The strategy is named after Oded Yinon, a Israeli foreign policy analyst who outlined the “Zionist strategy” for breaking up and balkanizing the Arab World.

    The interests of the U.S. government, Brussels, and Israel are to keep the Arabs divided in separate “feeble states.” There is, however, a new dynamic that is emerging in the Arab World. This new dynamic emerging from the upheavals and protests potentially challenges the Yinon Approach, which is being applied against the Arab people.”

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23542

  85. BiBiJon,

    “Foreign instigation of protests, set up jobs such as Neda Agha-Soltan, etc. make it impossible for Iranian authorities to assume demostrations will be peaceful.”

    No need to assume anything. Just authorize the rally, with very strict guidelines aimed at ensuring it remains peaceful, and crack down if and when those guidelines are violated. Maybe videotape it too, so that blame can properly be assigned to the protesters if the rally turns violent.

    Iran gets credit for allowing peaceful protests, demonstrating the government’s confidence that the vast majority of Iranians support it, while taking away the standard Green argument that millions upon millions of Iranians support it but are not allowed to show their support.

  86. fyi says:

    Rd. says: March 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    India, China, Russia, and the African Union are opposed to any military intervention in Libya.

    Islamic Republic of Iran is lying low; trying to avoid having to take a public position on Libya one way or another.

    While Iranian leaders do not particularly like Mr. Qaddafi, they would be very suspicious of a government that is ushered in by the Axis Powers in Libya. They rather have Mr. Qaddafi; at least he has not been anti-Shia and anti-Iranian viscerally.

  87. fyi says:

    K. Voorhees says: March 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    They are none too bright, no?

  88. BiBiJon says:

    Eric A. Brill says:
    March 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    On your point 1, You may have missed the part when Hillary said “Iran is not looking for a leadership role.” She is looking for normal cooperative win-win relationships that all neiboring countries would naturally have with one another sans some external influence. Therefore, there is no logical gap — reduce the external influence breeding dicord and instability, these nations will engage in a lot of mutually benefitial bilateral/multilatteral activities. That’s all Iran wants and has been patiently waiting for the last 32 years.

    On your second point, I refer you to Cyrus’ posts yesterday. Foreign instigation of protests, set up jobs such as Neda Agha-Soltan, etc. make it impossible for Iranian authorities to assume demostrations will be peaceful.

  89. Rd. says:

    “Speaking within the context of international law, the leaders of the U.S. and the E.U. have learned to effectively “cover their tracks.” These leaders have learned from the various international attempts and initiatives to bring George W. Bush Jr., Tony Blair, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and their co-conspirators to justice for starting an internationally illegal war against Iraq.

    The leaders of the U.S. and the E.U. are putting together the legal grounds to justify the implementation of their war plans against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

    The Gulf Hypocrisy Council
    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an organization comprised of the petro-sheikdoms of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. They have betrayed Palestine, they worked against Iraq, they turned their backs on Lebanon, and now they are conspiring against Libya together with Washington and Brussels. ”

    Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23657

  90. K. Voorhees says:

    Hillary leaves out something very important: Muslims do not believe Arabs did 9/ll.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/5110364.stm

  91. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Arnold;

    I made a mistake in my previous message where I said:
    “Similarly, oil companies have made a lot of profit in this region too. Colonies such as A. Arbia, the littoral states ….”

    Instead of “oil companies” I should have written “all oil dependent US companies”.

  92. Empty says:

    Is it correct that the Jordanian king is invited and planning a trip to Iran for the Iranian New Year? Anyone has more information about this?

  93. Arnold wrote:

    “I notice nobody’s talking here much about the actual post. I personally read it and find absolutely nothing to add, critique or take issue with.”

    I haven’t finished listening to the full audio of Hillary’s speech, and so I won’t comment at length. I hope and expect that her conclusions (as summarized here) will turn out to be correct. So far, though, I’m not persuaded that her arguments will move skeptical readers from Point A to Point B. A couple of observations on some gaps that I see:

    1. The summary mentions in several places “the shift in the Middle East’s balance of power over the last decade, away from America and its allies, in favor of the Islamic Republic and its partners.” Though Hillary gives some independent reasons why this balance may be shifting toward Iran, her repeated use of this quoted phrase, in one form or another, suggests she believes that, to a considerable extent, the mere shift AWAY from the US – in and of itself – is resulting in a shift TOWARD Iran.
    I don’t think that necessarily follows. It’s quite possible that the US’ loss of power in the Middle East will result in nothing more than just that: the absence of US power in the Middle East. A bit more effort will be required to persuade skeptical readers why Iran is likely to end up filling that void – why (in Joseph Nye’s words) Iran is likely to persuade other Middle East countries to “want what it wants.” Why, for example, is Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, likely to acknowledge that Iran is the new dominant country in the Middle East? Aren’t there compelling reasons why they might resist doing that? It’s not sufficient merely to say that Iran is shaping up as the strongest country in the Middle East. Nor is it sufficient to argue that an “awakening” country such as Egypt may soon side with Iran on the Israel/Palestine dispute. Whether or not that proves to be true, it won’t mean that Egypt acknowledges Iran’s new dominance in the region.

    2. Iran has dodged the bullet in the recent Middle East uprisings, and I am confident it would have dodged the bullet even if it had allowed the Green Movement freedom to hold protest marches last month. But Iran would and should have proved that important point by not restricting those protests to the extent it did. It should have insisted on restrictions to ensure that those protests remained peaceful, and it would have been justified in cracking down hard on any violence that occurred. But it should otherwise have let the Greens show whatever support they could show. Because Iran did not do that, the Green Movement remains able to argue, correctly or not, that Iran dodged the bullet only because it suppressed the voices of dissent. That being so, I don’t think skeptical readers will agree that the absence of serious protests in Iran proves anything about the strength and popular support enjoyed by Iran’s government.

  94. Pirouz_2 says:

    @Arnold Evans:
    Re the message on March 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Arnold;

    In my opinion (and from your message it seems that you agree with me), the state is a representative of the elite (read it various branches of capitalism). To put it in terms of ‘vector algebra’, the state is the ‘resultant’ force obtained from the addition of all individual force vectors (individual capitalists), and as such it represents an equilibrium and defends the over-all interests of the capitalist class.

    One can give various examples of individual branches of capitalism: arms industry, energy sector and the oil companies, engine manufacturing (GM, Ford, etc), finacial capitalism (banks, insurance companies etc.) and so on and so forth.

    While these individual branches of capitalism compete intensively among each other, and try to influence and push the state aparatus in the direction of their own interests (which are in contradiction to other individual capitalists interests) through winning elections, there is a distinction between state and the individual capitalist (or capitalist group). The state does not belong to any specific individual capitalist group it is the representative of the whole class.

    As a result, rather than thinking the short-term gains of an individual group of capitalists, it has to take into consideration the over-all interests of the class (and its global hegemony) and look a bit farther into future (albeit not that farther) in making its calculus.

    So I agree with you very much that the state has to take into account the amount of US loss of life and most im[ortantly the outcome of a war and its results over its hegemony in the region.

    However, I disagree with you on the point that the support for Israel is necessarily against the interests of the arms industry or the oil companies (at least not in the way that you have described):

    A state usually does not sell every leading edge military equipment in export. The individual arms making companies may want to make deals with all states in this region and sell as many F-22′s as possible, but there is a state restriction over the export of F-22s (even to the beloved Israelies).
    In my humble opinion, the state of constant conflict in this region has actually boosted the arms sale in this region rather than reducing it: creating a boogy man out of Iran, any conflict between Libya and Egypt, arming Lebanon against Syria, and so on and so forth.
    Similarly, oil companies have made a lot of profit in this region too. Colonies such as A. Arbia, the littoral states of the Persian Gulf have all been too eager to keep the price of oil as low as possible (working as the agents of US in OPEC). In fact if the memory serves right, one of the reasons of the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam was that Kuwaities insisted on keeping the oil prices low at a time that Saddam was in debt (to PG states including Kuwait) up to its neck.
    Has USA not lost a lot of contracts and possible profits from states such as Iran? Of course it has (although it is worth mentioning that a lot of companies until very recently still conducted business with Iran), but I believe that the state aparatus in the US has had to think of the long-term interests and dangers of having an example of independent and rogue oil producing country in this region (ie. Iran) which has been able to go unpunished and has been able to survive and even develop (in the capitalist sense). In my opinion that is the main derive behind punishing Iran so persistently.
    The reason that I believe that Israel has become an impediment to the interests of US is exactly what the former Shah of Iran (and I am sure a lot of other US puppets in this region) has complained about. Israel which once served US interests so well has now become a destablizing factor working against the very puppet governments in this region who do the US bidding.

  95. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Jimmy Carter forced Israel out of the entire Sinai in 1979, and was punished by the Jewish community in the US in the 1980 elections. Begin had wanted to keep Sharm el-Sheik.

  96. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The Israel lobby was unhappy Eisenhower forced Israel out of the Sinai in 1956, but the I-lobby was not nearly so powerful in 1956 compared with 2011.

    I would think the average income of a Jewish familily in the US in 1956 was around the average American family income. By the late 1960s, I think the Jewish family had an income 15% higher than the average American family. I do not know the current figures but would hazard to guess that the average Jewish family income is more than 100% higher than the average American family. In fact, 200% higher would not surprise me. Does anyone have the figures? The power of the I-lobby has grown as the wealth and power of the Jewish community in the US has grown. This is simple fact, and it obviously is related to US campaign finance which has undermined the nature of the Republic and perhaps fatally so.

  97. fyi says:

    James Canning says: March 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    You are quite right and they also saved Jordan from Syria back in the days.

    And helped Iran getting Soviets to leave Iran in 1948.

    So, the conflict did not begin as a religious one of Islam vs. Protestant Christianity; it became so when Axis Powers assummed more and more aggressive policies in the world of Islam, never reaching a peaceful settlement.

  98. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Hillary Clinton is a leading stooge of the Israel lobby. Twenty years ago, she was concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. Perhaps that was before she developed her own hopes of getting into the White House in her own right.

  99. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Did Joe Biden actually claim the US occupation of Iraq and the US occupation (or attempted occupation) of Aghanistan, have nothing to do with Israel? I seriously doubt Biden believes that. Iraq had everything to do with Israel.

  100. Rehmat says:

    James Canning – Israel has every right to ask for $20 billion taxpayers’ money – after all Hillary Clinton has called Israel “the only US has in the Middle East”.

    An now since Hizbullah has become the ‘King-maker’ in Lebanon. And both Israelis and the Israel-Firsters in the US know they cannot defeat Hizbullah especially when their Arab stooges are busy in controlling anti-governments protests around Israel.

    Bibi: Hezbollah is Lebanon’s real army

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/bibi-hezbollah-is-lebanons-real-army/

  101. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    The uS forced France to grant independence to Lebanon and Syria, and the US forced France and the UK to withdraw from the Suez Canal after they occupied it in 1956.

    I do agree with you that the US has sought to control the people of Egypt and other countries, indirectly, in order to “protect” Israel. Which is to say, to enable further oppression of the Palestinians, land thefts, water stealing, etc etc etc.

  102. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    You probably agree with David Gardner of the Financial Times who calls Egypt a military in possession of a country, rather than the other way around. I too will be surprised if the money-machine controlled by the Egyptian military is very readily given up.

  103. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    I laughed out loud! Israel as a “regional stabilizer” and please please give us another $20 billion, foolish US taxpayers! Israel’s pitchmen see “stability” as a siren’s call, and use it in effort to f**k the American taxpayers even more vigourously!

  104. BiBiJon says:

    within the next few months ….

    Libya:

    Rebelion, who needs a stinking rebelion? Gaddafi is allowed to quash the popular uprising. At the same time a successor among Gaddafi loyalist ranks has been told to start a coup d’état in exactly six months, assured of a quick recognition and support by the West.

    GCC countries:

    Tiny tribal armies will be island hopping for the next several months until their restive populations start looking at status quo ante with considerable nostalgia.

    Egypt and Tunisa

    Democracy in name only. A complete but hidden take over by ex-military oligarchs controling 4/5 the counties’ economies, until it is safe not to be so hidden any more.

    Yemen:

    Civil war leading to partition.

    Bets, anyone?

  105. James Canning says:

    Arnold,

    Are you saying that, after Aipac blocked Conoco’s oil deal with Iran in 1995, Conoco felt obliged not to gripe about it publicly too much? Part of the deal was returning relations between Iran and the US to something more normal.

    In 2006, the Israel lobby blocked implementation of the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations which included making deals with Syria and Iran and pulling all US forces out of Iraq. This would have saved hundreds of billions of dollars.

  106. Bahraini says:

    When I watch what’s happening in Bahrain on Almanar and Alalam, I pray that people like Scott Lucas (who said in Cambridge that “we” shouldn’t attack Iran because it would hurt the green scum!) get what they deserve.

  107. Arnold Evans says:

    Fiorangela says:
    March 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    How much are you willing to wager AGAINST Israel receiving the $20 billion it is requesting from US to “enhance Israel’s ability to bring stability to the region?”

    Interesting question. On the one hand, the US has plenty of cash, Israel’s supporters accept defeat over things like global strategic issues and US troop losses, but plain cash doesn’t have as much importance as a consequence. On the other hand, Israel definitely isn’t getting $20 billion this year. Maybe over the next ten years, Israel’s cash support can be increased by 10 percent per year.

    It is a step in the wrong direction, but not a major issue. If Israel asks for a $20 billion cash outlay this year, it will probably be told no.

  108. BiBiJon says:

    the Iranian market.

    Bussed-in Basiji says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:40 am

    So, did SecDef Gates give an explicit green light to the Saudi military intervension?

    Or, Gates’ two messages: “A reassurance of our support, as well as encouragement of the national dialogue, which is in its nascent stages now” are being taken one at a time?

    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63132

  109. Fiorangela says:

    Arnold Evans @ 10:47 am Mar 14:

    re: “But the amount of US troop losses in 2006 was enough to force the US foreign policy community to focus primarily on something other than Israel’s strategic needs or desires. Israel’s supporters had to just accept defeat the way the oil industry earlier had to accept defeat when it was barred from the Iranian market.”

    How much are you willing to wager AGAINST Israel receiving the $20 billion it is requesting from US to “enhance Israel’s ability to bring stability to the region?”

  110. Richard,

    I don’t claim to be a military expert, but I have a hunch that Gaddafi’s army will devote just enough force and attention to Ajdabiya to prevent the rebels there from cutting off Gaddafi’s supply lines, which he can do by controlling the road that passes by Ajdabiya to the north. I anticipate that Gaddafi will quickly head directly east to reach the coastal-road connection to Egypt. This will have several advantages for Gaddafi:

    1. He can cut off the rebels’ potential or actual supply route from Egypt.

    2. He can isolate the remaining rebel cities on the west, east and south sides, leaving them as an “island” with only sea access (if that).

    3. He can avoid a bloody battle in Ajdabiya, allowing him to argue that he’s avoiding civilian casualties while claiming the rebels are using Ajdabiya civilians as “human shields.”

    4. He can cut off the rebel forces in Ajdabiya from their supply routes.

    5. All this can happen much more quickly than it would if he gets bogged down in Ajdabiya, thus allowing him to end the fighting before the West intervenes (assuming it ever does).

  111. masoud says:

    M.Ali,

    “I’m always been amused by Iranian’s dedication to Islam and at the same time, their hatred of the Arabs for invading their lands (which brought Islam to them). Its like extremely religious Shia Iranians hating Omar. Its a bit paradoxical to hate someone that brought on the religion you are currently following. Omar brought Islam to Iran.”

    In my view, that’s kind of like saying you’re surprised at Iraqi’s who are no longer in the grip of Saddam Hussein and have a democratic government, but you can’t figure out why they hate America or Bush.

  112. Empty says:

    M. Ali,

    RE: “I’m always been amused by Iranian’s dedication to Islam and at the same time, their hatred of the Arabs for invading their lands (which brought Islam to them). Its like extremely religious Shia Iranians hating Omar. Its a bit paradoxical to hate someone that brought on the religion you are currently following. Omar brought Islam to Iran.”

    You bring up such important key points with contemporary relevance that I’d like to take this opportunity to expand on them a bit. Historically, I think, the Iranians’ deeply-rooted emotions and stance with respect to Islam, Arabs, Iran’s history, Persian culture, and Sunni-Shia relationship have not been critically and clearly explored, defined, and taught by our own thinkers in a systematic and clear fashion through various educational settings such as mosques, schools, universities, street performances (ta’azieh), and recitations of Noheh. Such gaps and shortcomings in our jihad (struggle) for “elm” (knowledge/understanding/science) or Ijtihad have had unfortunate consequences (although I often do not agree with most of fyi’s conclusions, I believe he offers great examples of such gaps and shortcomings).

    Iranian Shia’s great love for Imam Ali and Hazrat Fatemeh and the deep sadness they have felt for the Imams for what they believed to have been unjust, oppressive acts, and betrayal against Imam Ali after the Prophet, for example, are fused with their feeling of anger against the closest companions of the prophet. As we say that من از بیگانگان هرگز ننالم … که با من هر چه کرد آن آشنا کرد. . [I shan’t be too harsh in judging my enemy as the one who wronged me the most was a friend.] To some extent, I think they have been lead to believe that if they feel anything but hate toward certain companions of the prophet, they would be betraying theمظلومیت of the imams. This is a very raw and natural human emotion (just think about how you’d feel about someone if you perceive him/her to have abandoned you at the greatest time of need). With respect to Iranian Shia’s, however, historically such sentiments have been exploited by various outside interests and fueled by both ignorance and deception which has lead to an unfortunate division among Sunni and Shia Muslim Ommat. We should steadfastly and clearly deconstruct these issues to reduce the potential for misuse and division. It should be demonstrated, for example, that:

    a. Did Imam Ali and Hazrat Fatemeh fight for themselves and their own cause or for God and the cause of truth and justice as instructed by God? Clearly, as Shia, we must genuinely believe that their efforts (as evident from Hadith and Nahjol’balagheh that we have) were not driven by self interest but for the cause of God.

    b. If we believe “a” is true, then God says, فمن یعمل مثقال ذرة خیرا یره. ومن یعمل مثقال ذرة شرایره. [Quran, Chapter 99, Verses 7 and 8] – “Anyone who does a tiny grain-size good deed will be justly compensated for it. Anyone who does a tiny grain-size bad deed will be justly compensated for it.” [translations/interpretations],
    then, under the guise of loving Imam Ali (the very embodiment of just rule), we are unwittingly committing the greatest of all injustices by going against God’s direction and “throwing away the baby with the bath water” so to speak, and dismissing the good deeds for the sake of bad deeds. Instead, we must learn to recognize and justly speak of the good deeds (even if they amounted to a “speckle”) along with a just and informed critique of the mistakes. And we should do this not to pamper our own ego as Shias, Iranians, Persians, Arabs, Turks, etc. but for the sake of God.

    I believe that if we genuinely and authentically follow the word of God and understand the excellent examples set by the Imams and just leaders of Islam throughout the history, we could achieve a lot in the way of uniting for betterment of Muslim Ommat in particular and the entire humanity in general.

  113. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    On the subject of this thread:
    As mentioned earlier, even in the “hard power” category (military and economy), Iran is the most influential country in the region and matched only by Turkey. I would add that Iran’s military power is different than Turkeys because part of Turkeys power comes from being NATO member whereas Iranian militay power is not based on being member of a military alliance but wholely indigenous. The war created a new and effective military culture among Iranian military forces which is the basis of their military power beyond the indigenous military industry.

    In fact Turkey could itself be a strong military power without NATO membership if it chose to do so- given its own indigenous military history and culture and most importantly Islamic religion.

  114. Arnold Evans says:

    Fiorangela says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Israel’s supporters definitely have influence over the US foreign policy establishment. One interesting thing I always notice is that there is a concerted effort to minimize the cost of Israel to US interests. We see it in the loud and false protestations that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have nothing to do with Israel, for example from Joe Biden. We see it in the claims that the protests in Egypt and the region have nothing to do with Israel.

    It is because of Israel’s domestic US supporters that protecting Israel’s security outweighs the interests of the arms industry and the oil industry in the Middle East. We see those interests conflict all the time, and we see Israel win in basically every case.

    But the amount of US troop losses in 2006 was enough to force the US foreign policy community to focus primarily on something other than Israel’s strategic needs or desires. Israel’s supporters had to just accept defeat the way the oil industry earlier had to accept defeat when it was barred from the Iranian market.

  115. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Saudi troops enter Bahrain as protests escalate
    news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110314/wl_afp/bahrainpoliticsunrestsaudi

    Quote from report:
    “The Shiite-led opposition alliance said any foreign force would be treated as an invading army.

    “We consider the arrival of any soldier, or military vehicle, into Bahraini territory… an overt occupation of the kingdom of Bahrain and a conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain,” said an opposition statement.

    Most workers seemed to be following a trade union call for a general strike to protest violence by the security forces.”

    M.Ali:
    Imam Ali(as) in Kufa, Ammar ibn Yassir (r) as governor of Kufa and Salmane Farsi(r) as governor of Mada’in taught Islam to Persians, Lors, Tabaris, Khurasanis and assorted groups which today we call “Iranians”. Furthermore from the beginning the Imams (as) encouraged their children to migrate to the area of what is today called Iran- that’s why we have all the Seyyeds and the Imamzadehs here and they taught the locals Islam as well and intermarried with them. Of course let us also not forget for the record that Imam Sajjad (as) was half Persian and many of his children migrated to Iran. From the beginning, the Ahlul Bayt school of Islam was strong here and that’s one of the reasons why anti-khalifah school of Islam in Iran is strong and pro-Alavi views among orthodox Sunnis is strong.

    In fact the war against the Sassanid empire in Mesopotamia (in what is today Iraq) occured under Abu Bakr followed by Omar who was khalifah after that, which is different than him “bringing” Islam to Iran.

    There are many myths said about Islam and Iran and unfortunately good historical work has not been done on this subject including things like the state of Sassanid society itself at that time or more recently the oft-repeated but incorrect view that all Iranians were Sunni before the 1500s and forced to convert to Shiism by the Safavids. Like I said, from the very beginning the Islam of Ahlul Bayt was prominent here and from the beginning these lands were a base for the Alavi and Ahlul Bayt.

    It’s not a coincidence that God chose Iran as the place for the establishment of the Islamic Republc, and don’t doubt for a second that this revolution and this republic will lead seamlessly to the rule of Sahibul Amr (aj). That’s the heart of what we have been saying for 32 years and that’s why the enemies of the Islam of Ahlul Bayt (as) and the hypocrites within Iran hate us. But you may have noticed that we don’t really care.

  116. Kathleen says:

    And Israel continues to be unconcerned about how their continued illegal expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and illegal housing in E Jerusalem effect their security of the security of the U.S.
    Israel announces massive settlement expansion in response to murders
    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/03/israel-announces-massive-settlement-expansion-in-response-to-murders.html

  117. Fiorangela says:

    Arnold @ 9:57 am Mar 14, wrote:

    “But there is a limit to what the US is willing or able to pay for Israel’s protection and that limit is set in Washington DC by the US foreign policy establishment, including members of congress, members of the Obama administration and non-official members of the foreign policy establishment such as at CFR and at the New York Times and at think tanks such as the Brookings institution.”

    Obama meets with 50 presidents of major american jewish organizations.

    Israel Seeks $20 billion in additional US aid Mar 8 2011
    :http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4039147,00.html
    Defense Minister sees no immediate threat in Egypt but fears repercussions of Mideast unrest. In Wall Street Journal interview, he says military upgrade can turn Israel into regional stabilizer

    My question: how would $20 billion TODAY turn Israel into a “regional stabilizer” when >$1.6 trillion over the past 35 years has NOT turned Israel into a “regional stabilizer?” :http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01-wmgn.html

  118. Arnold Evans says:

    fyi says:
    March 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

    About Iran benefiting from the demise of the colonial regimes, the reason the US held onto a colonial structure in Israel’s region much later than anywhere else in the world is that the United States needs the countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait and others to pursue policies that harshly contradict the values of the people of those countries (including the values of the ruling elites). One of these policies that contradict domestic values has been treating Iran as a more important adversary than Israel.

    As Hillary Leverett says in the article, governments that reflect the views of the people ruled will, of course, improve their relations with Iran. It almost goes without saying, except that the US foreign policy community is almost comically poor in its understanding of the region around Israel.

    [Had Axis Powers and Iran not been enemies, it could have been possible for the 2 side to cooperate and to usher Qaddaffi out or retire him; in my opinion.]

    The United States wanted to use Libya to prove that there is opposition to Middle East leaders who are hostile to the US – and so began pretending, as Hillary says above, that Libya had not already surrendered to the United States and that his ouster demonstrates that the US does not oppose democracy in the region around Israel.

    It is wrong and stupid, but it is criminal that lives were sacrificed to nothing more than making a fundamentally stupid argument.

    I think Gadaffi over-reacted and panicked to the first reports of unrest, partly because after his surrender, he identified himself with Ben-Ali and Mubarak.

    Libya is just a tragic circus of horrible errors, emotions, agedas and misperceptions all around.

  119. fyi says:

    M.Ali says: March 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Yes, you are mostly correct.

    The War with Iraq only worsened the situation.

  120. fyi says:

    All:

    Iranian leaders, after 30-years of stedafastness, are reaping the fruits of their strategic patience.

    The demise of Arab leaders who were compliant to US regional policies has opened new vistas for Iranian Foreign policy and has closed many avenues to that of US.

    So, locally in the Middle East, US power – that is the ability to change things – has declined. This does not automatically translate into the Iranians’ ability to get things done either.

    Money is what makes diplomacy work. Many Arab states that are in turmoil are not in want of money (Bahrain, Oman, Libya). The needs of Tunisia and Egypt is so large that the Iranians cannot step in with bags of money and hope to influence things.

    So, Iranians will have to rely on the articulation of a common set of challenges and a common positive vision of the future for the region to be able to gain influence. I think they will use the Turkey-Iran relationship as a template; friendly commercial and business relationship tinged with a shared vision and set of ideas on a large number of issues – including the War with Palestine.

    In this approach, Iranians will not make the Axis Powers presence in these states an issue of the bilateral Iran-XYZ Country relationship.

    The interesting case is Libya in which Iranians had admonished Mr. Qaddaffi to “Listen to the People”. Their position on Libya is not materially that different than that of Saudi Arabia’s or the African Union. And once Qaddaffi has reasserted control over Western Libya, Iranians will be escaping his wrath, which will be directed at the Arab League and the Axis Powers.

    I do feel sorry for the people of Libya, however.

    [Had Axis Powers and Iran not been enemies, it could have been possible for the 2 side to cooperate and to usher Qaddaffi out or retire him; in my opinion.]

  121. Arnold Evans says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 14, 2011 at 2:56 am

    The US state is fundamentally corrupt and controlled by persons with extremely narrow agendas and a complete disregard for the effects on the lives and economies of not only foreign nations but the US population itself?

    I partially agree with this statement but one problem I have with it is that I can’t see explanatory or predictive power in it.

    We can spell out the narrow agendas: The military industrial complex (I don’t like that term either because it just sounds big and vague and has built in sinister connotations – I’d prefer arms industry) but the arms industry has an agenda of maximizing arms sales. The oil companies have an agenda of maximizing profits from oil sales and the Israel lobby has as its agenda of maximizing Israel’s strength relative to other hostile or potentially hostile countries in its region.

    Is the United States maximizing arms sales? The US could be supporting a rebellion in Georgia right now, it could be shipping a lot of weapons directly to Libya’s rebels. There are a substantial amount of weapons the US could be selling in the world that it is not selling, a substantial amount of potential wars that the US is not enabling through arms sales.

    Is the United States maximizing the price of oil? Well, Saudi Arabia really couldn’t stop the US from taking Ras Tanura off line right now. It couldn’t retaliate. It would just have to watch its colonial patrons replace all of the sales of Arabian oil with oils sales partially from the US-controlled gulf of Mexico, maybe at $500 a barrel.

    Is the United States maximizing Israel’s strength relative to its neighbors? The US could have attacked Iran in 2006, it can attack Iran today. The United States can occupy, Iraq-style, Lebanon and Syria.

    You can adjust the theory and say the arms industry wants exactly the amount of sales it has now, the oil industry wants exactly the price we see now and the Israel lobby wants Israel to get exactly the amount of support it gets now, but that’s not a theory any more that’s just taking whatever you see and saying “the narrow interests want it”. If the US attacks Iran tomorrow you can say “the interests wanted to attack. If the US does not attack Iran tomorrow you can say “the interests didn’t want to attack”. But today, the adjusted theory is just useless. It doesn’t say anything about tomorrow. It really doesn’t say anything about yesterday either.

    So if we don’t accept adjustments to the theory and say the interests want to maximize the objects of their agendas, then there are constraints on the lobbies you’ve identified. What are those constraints? The US has a capacity to direct its actions to advance broader goals than the three specific agendas you’ve mentioned.

    I argue that the US’ primary goal in the Middle East is ensuring that no regional power can threaten Israel and that all other goals are subordinate to that. US oil companies are cut off from profiting from transactions with Iran. US arms companies cannot sell missiles that would threaten Israel to Egypt or Saudi Arabia, to say nothing of Iran or Syria.

    But there is a limit to what the US is willing or able to pay for Israel’s protection and that limit is set in Washington DC by the US foreign policy establishment, including members of congress, members of the Obama administration and non-official members of the foreign policy establishment such as at CFR and at the New York Times and at think tanks such as the Brookings institution.

    While the US foreign policy establishment is influenced by the narrow agendas you’ve identified there are clearly other influences. The single most highly regarded element of the US foreign policy establishment is the armed forces. The armed forces are primarily nationalistic, trained at least since WWII to think broadly about global US strategic power and very sensitive to US troop losses.

    It seems to me that the armed forces opposed both the attack on Iran and the partition of Iraq. In the first place because of the vulnerability of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the second place because partitioning Iraq would turn Turkey virulently anti-American (much more than we see now) and would threaten to put a Russian bordering ally (or at least enemy of the US) directly on the Mediterranean.

    In those two situations, it seems to me those considerations: the safety of troops in Iraq and the global strategic importance of Turkey in a potential conflict with a Russian power overrode the narrow interests you identified and will consistently do so.

    Reading public information, we can get a pretty good idea of what the US foreign policy establishment perceives in the world. The United States seems to really see Iranian enrichment as a threat. The United States does not like Gadaffi, and wants to avenge the loss of Mubarak but does not want to lose US lives to remove him. The United States does not consider the current operations in Iraq or Afghanistan sustainable and wants to reduce both.

    It absolutely is not the case though that the interests of the US population are completely disregarded by the US foreign policy establishment.

  122. M.Ali says:

    fyi,

    I think Iranians have a bit of confused identity.

    I’m always been amused by Iranian’s dedication to Islam and at the same time, their hatred of the Arabs for invading their lands (which brought Islam to them). Its like extremely religious Shia Iranians hating Omar. Its a bit paradoxical to hate someone that brought on the religion you are currently following. Omar brought Islam to Iran.

  123. fyi says:

    Fellow Being says: March 14, 2011 at 3:00 am

    You may have discarded your national identity but others won’t.

    The smame others, will refuse to recognize you as anything but an Iranian or a Persian; they will push you back into the fold from which you have tried to release yourself.

    These others, are all the other non-Iranians in the world who do not want you or be united to you in some de-nationalized Utopia.

  124. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    Interesting article by Patrick Buchanan

    After the Revolution

    By Patrick J. Buchanan

    “Democracy … arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects,” said Aristotle.

    But if the Philosopher disliked the form of government that arose out of the fallacy of human equality, the Founding Fathers detested it.

    “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule,” said Thomas Jefferson, “where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.” James Madison agreed, “Democracy is the most vile form of government.” Their Federalist rivals concurred.

    “Democracy,” said John Adams, “never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

    “You people, sir, is a great beast,” Alexander Hamilton is said to have remarked. If he did not, it was not far from his view.

    Said John Winthrop, the Pilgrim father whose vision of a “city on a hall” so inspired Ronald Reagan, “A democracy is … accounted the meanest and worst form of government.”

    But did not the fathers create modernity’s first democracy?

    No. They created “a republic, if you can keep it,” as Ben Franklin said, when asked in Philadelphia what kind of government they had given us. A constitutional republic, to protect and defend God-given rights that antedated the establishment of that government.

    We used to know that. Growing up, we daily pledged allegiance “to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands,” not some democracy. As Walter Williams writes, Julia Ward Howe did not write the “Battle Hymn of the Democracy.”

    Today, we are taught to worship what our fathers abhorred to such an extent that politicians and ideologues believe America was put on Earth to advance a worldwide revolution to ensure that all nations are democratic.

    Only then, said George W. Bush, can America be secure.

    The National Endowment for Democracy was established for this quintessentially neoconservative end and meddles endlessly in the internal affairs of nations in a fashion Americans would never tolerate.

    The democratists are now celebrating the revolutions across the Islamic world in the same spirit, if in less exalted language, as William Wordsworth celebrated the French Revolution, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/But to be young was very heaven!”

    After 1789 ushered in Robespierre and Saint-Just, the Terror, the dictatorship and the Napoleonic wars, enthusiasm cooled. But with the Lenin-Trotsky revolution of 1917, Mao’s revolution of 1949, and Castro’s revolution of 1959, the exhilaration returned, only to see the bright hopes dashed again in blood and terror.

    Last month, the Egyptian revolution enraptured us, with “pro-democracy” demonstrators effecting, through the agency of the Egyptian army, the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, a friend and ally for three decades.

    In the exhilaration of their democratic triumph, some of the boys in Tahrir Square celebrated with serial sexual assaults on American journalist Lara Logan. A week after the triumph, returned Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi addressed a crowd estimated at 1 million in Tahrir Square.

    In January 2009, Qaradawi had declared that “throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the (Jews) people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. … Allah willing, the next time will be in the hand of the believers.”

    “Qaradawi is very much in the mainstream of Egyptian society,” wrote the Christian Science Monitor.

    In 2004, this centrist was apparently offered the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Today, we read that, liberated from Mubarak, Muslims set fire to a Christian church in Sol, south of Cairo, then attacked it with hammers.

    When enraged Christians set up roadblocks in Cairo demanding the government rebuild the church, they were set upon by Muslims as soldiers stood by. Thirteen people, most of them Coptic Christians, were shot to death on Tuesday, and more than a hundred were wounded in the worst religious violence in years.

    Revolutions liberate people from tyranny, but also free them up to indulge old hates, settle old scores and give vent to their passions.

    What are the passions that will be unleashed by the revolution that has the Arab nation of 300 million aflame?

    Surely, one is for greater freedom, good jobs and prosperity, such as the West and East Asia have been able to produce for their people.

    Yet if even European nations like Greece, Ireland and Spain, which used to deliver this, no longer seem able to do so, how will these Arab nations, which have never produced freedom, prosperity or progress on a large scale, succeed in the short time they will have?

    Answer: They will not. The great Arab revolution will likely fail.

    And when it does, those other passions coursing through the region will rise to dominance. And what are they but ethnonationalism, tribalism and Islamic fundamentalism?

    What will eventually unite this turbulent region — when its peoples fail to achieve what they are yearning for — is who and what they are all against.

    Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

  125. M.Ali says:

    Kooshy, your post at 11:13 pm was very useful and I hope more people will notice it.

  126. Juan Cole reports the latest from Libya:

    Quote

    What stands in Qaddafi’s way is the city of Ajdabiya (pop. 200,000), which is garrisoned by rebel forces led by former Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Yunus. Gen. Yunus says he is confident he can defend Ajdabiya, and that from there east the urban populations are themselves heavily armed, which will make it difficult for Qaddafi’s forces to make quick, unopposed advances. It is true that the rebels only had Brega and Ra’s Lanuf for a few days, and that those towns are sparsely populated.

    Aljazeera Arabic is reporting Monday morning that Ajdabiya is being heavily bombed by Qaddafi’s air force.

    The only good news for the rebels on Sunday was that a government assault on the western city of Misrata (Misurata), pop. 600,000, was allegedly derailed by a division within Qaddafi’s troops. Two factions are said to have fallen to fighting with one another, perhaps over plans to invest the city and massacre rebel leaders. If Qaddafi’s men can take Misrata and Benghazi, the rebellion will be effectively snuffed out or forced underground as a guerrilla movement.

    End Quote

  127. Justin Raimond quotes a source on the history of Libya, a country that doesn’t exist.

    ‘Libya’ Does Not Exist
    :http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/03/13/libya-does-not-exist/

    Quote

    The Benghazi rebellion is essentially a secessionist movement, which seeks to break Cyrenaica away from what used to be the entirely separate and distinct state of Tripolitania – now the seat of the central government and Gadhafi’s chief stronghold. Cyrenaica has a long history as an independent and quasi-independent entity, which goes back to the time of the ancient Greeks, and continued into modern times. That history is now reasserting itself. Cyrenaica was the center of resistance to the Italians. It is also the center of the Sanussi sect’s influence – a version of Islam, founded in 1837. The Sanussi, based in the Bedouin tribes of the East, have always been the most troublesome for would-be colonizers and empire-builders: they resisted the rule of the Italians just as they fought the Ottomans – and are now fighting Gadhafi.

    King Idris I, who took the throne after World War II, descended from the original Sanussi emir – and, it turns out, he was right in his reluctance to extend his rule to Tripoli. If the Western powers, hiding behind the UN, had taken the King’s advice and allowed Cyrenaica to go its own way, the present tragedy might have been averted. As it is, the rebellion against Gadhafi has turned into a stalemate, with the Eastern part effectively liberated from the eccentric despot’s control.

    End Quote

    This provides considerable background to the basic question of “why this revolt”, if not the question “why this revolt now”.

  128. Another interesting recap of the Libyan situation in Asia Times.

    Rebels outgunned, overstretched
    :http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC12Ak03.html

    I think it will be interesting to see what happens when Benghazi is directly threatened. This is a larger city, the hub of the revolt. Will the revolt evaporate if Benghazi is attacked? Or will the revolt be revitalized? How much does the situation depend on whether the rebels get more arms from outside sources? What happens if Gaddafi loyalists and rebels have to fight in an urban environment in Benghazi vs the highway/desert environment they’re fighting in now? How far will Gaddafi go in destroying Benghazi? Can he destroy Benghazi?

    Until the news reports shift back away from the Japan earthquake and the Japan nuclear problems (which are serious – there’s a video of the recent reactor hydrogen explosion – that was NOT a small explosion!), we apparently can’t tell. I wish there were neutral military observers in Libya to describe the situation. As it is, we have reporters in the rebel zone and now Gaddafi conducting his own propaganda campaign, and it’s hard to tell what’s going on.

  129. Fellow Being says:

    I always thought it was first and foremost necessary to show people that nationalism is a rotten ideology poisoning them, I considered this as a major obstacle in the way of unity of people and I spent most of my effort in this field. Yet today it seems clear that naturally things are sorting themselves out. Technology and globalization (good or bad) have brought people together and increasingly people are getting closer. Time is washing the taint of nationalism and racism anyway. People in Europe, Asia, Africa and America feel each other and relate to struggles and needs of one another. Recent events are evidence of this. Some kind of awakening is happening not only in the middle east but in the whole globe. People inspire and learn from one another far quicker and more frequently!

    It was not easy for me to let go of my Persian identity, unlike Islam such nationalist feelings were injected into my brain. It took me years to realize what I was holding to was a piece of dead, rotten stinky myth that perhaps only benefited those who benefit from divisions and disunity. They showed me some old broken and cracked ancient items and ruins and told me I should be proud of them and be attached to them! At the same time they kept me away from the present and future! Same thing was happening to everyone else in other countries. The idea to even acknowledge that we had bad and evil kings too was a pain for many! It seems though there is no more need to be active in this filed like before. Humanity is self-correcting itself and it is a natural and divine course.

  130. Arnold: I’m listening to Hillary’s talk audio right now. Worth listening to total. Right at the moment she’s emphasizing that with 80% of the Iranian population coming out to elections (compared to the much smaller percentage in the US), it demonstrates that the Iranian system has”legitimacy” to the population. I’d say that is correct.

    She just asked, “Why is it that not one suicide bomber in history has been an Iranian?” She’s challenging this notion that the US supports “stability” but rather really supports strategic cooperation with the US and cooperation with Israel, and the way the US is doing that is not stable because it’s not agreeable to the Arab street. The best recent example she says is Egypt’s support of the siege of Gaza which is really offensive to the Egyptian people. Then she points out that the Egyptian military’s first pronouncement was that it would support the Israel peace treaty – why? Because that was the US Congress’ priority.

    She now declares that the US program to fund political parties in Egypt at $500 million is not going to work.

    At the end, she says, in response to a question about whether Iran would reciprocate to a “grand bargain” offer, that historically Iran has always been willing to respond to offers from the West for help and rapprochement but that the West has always been the one to cut it off. And now, with Iran in a stronger position and with pro-Western regimes failing, she’s not sure Iran necessarily would see the need to do so.

    One defect in this talk, in my view, is that whereas Hillary continually refers to the twin issues of strategic cooperation with the US and support for Israel as being the primary motivations for US policy, she does not address either the influence of the military-industrial complex on US foreign policy, nor on the influence of the oil industry on US ME foreign policy, nor on the influence of the Israel Lobby on US foreign policy. I think these are glaring oversights.

    It seems to me that the Leveretts are hesitant to directly take on the MIC, the oil companies and the Israel Lobby as major influences. I’m not sure why that is. Do the Leveretts insist on believing, as many do, that US foreign policy is somehow “rational”, defined solely by (possibly mistaken) beliefs about the world while still retaining basically “good hearted intentions” rather than, as I do, believing the US state is fundamentally corrupt and controlled by persons with extremely narrow agendas and a complete disregard for the effects on the lives and economies of not only foreign nations but the US population itself?

    In other words, are the Leveretts naive? Or am I – and others like Noam Chomsky and the people at Antiwar.com – just wrong?

    On Raymond Davis: I haven’t followed that in detail, but the impression I get is that there’s some kind of conflict between the ISI and the CIA in Pakistan. I suspect the ISI doesn’t like the CIA running rampant around the country, and they’re nailing this guy specifically to set an example. I think it’s “spy vs spy” in this instance. I suspect this reflects the fundamental division in the Pakistani government concerning bending to the will of the US vs supporting their own national interests at the expense of the US.

    For example, it has been alleged by people supposedly in the know in the intelligence community that there are specific members of the Pakistani ISI who know pretty much exactly where Osama bin Laden is (and other senior members of Al Qaeda). If that’s true, it raises the question of just why the CIA hasn’t managed to discover that information – or whether the CIA is even trying. If bin Laden is the “boogey man”, if Obama is telling the truth about wanting to finish off Al Qaeda, then how come no one can find him?

    I still hold out my standing offer: Pay me one billion dollars in advance and I’ll find bin Laden (assuming he’s still alive) within ninety days. And I’ll probably make a nine hundred million dollar profit doing so.

  131. Arnold Evans says:

    I notice nobody’s talking here much about the actual post. I personally read it and find absolutely nothing to add, critique or take issue with.

    I guess if you just kind of get it right, the conversation just drifts to whatever other subject seems relevant.

  132. Arnold Evans says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts on Raymond Davis in Pakistan?

  133. Arnold Evans says:

    There have been large protests against Hezbollah in Lebanon, I’m reading.

    Westerners really miss the point of these protests. Lebanon is not Egypt, we know exactly how much support Hariri had in 2009. He got 656,820 votes, or 44.5% and the pro-Hezbollah parties got 819,180 votes, or 55.5%.

    Nobody in Lebanon thinks Hezbollah is not more popular than Hariri. If they get 656,819 people to join protests, a fitting response might be: Yeah, we kind of thought you might be able to get about that many people to protest. What happened to your other supporter though?

    Lebanese opponents of Nasrallah – like Iranian opponents of Ahmadinejad and unlike Egyptian opponents of Mubarak – cannot credibly claim that they may represent the majority of their society. And everyone in society knows this.

    National elections do a tremendous job of undercutting the rationale of any movement to overturn a political order. If Libya does defeat the rebels, Gadaffi’s regime would be well served to hold a referendum on changes to a new mechanism that allow regular contested national elections which would pretty much ensure that this cannot happen again.

  134. Castellio says:

    Thanks for those comments, Kooshy…

  135. kooshy says:

    I recommend today’s Kayahan editorial since is directly related to the current tread be translated for the non Persian speaking readers

    سر و كار ايران با جنبش هاي منطقه (يادداشت روز)

    Iran’s affairs with regional movements (playing chess with gorilla)

    Mohammad Imani

    http://www.kayhannews.ir/891223/2.htm#other200

  136. Rehmat: “Newsflash: “More than 50% US Senators have agreed to attend a conference which represents a country which has the largest espionage network in America”.”

    Agree that the fact that Israel has operated cynically against the US countless times should be emphasized more to the US populace.

    People need to “Remember the Liberty!”, “Remember Pollack”, “Remember stolen nuclear material”, etc., etc. Israel is one of the worst enemies the US has. No comparison to bin Laden, in fact, who hasn’t harmed this country a tenth the way Israel has.

  137. Fiorangela says:

    what a terrible tragedy. The one country that was made to suffer so greatly from deliberate attack with nuclear weapons now suffers again from the threat of nuclear radiation.

    God be with the Japanese people.

  138. kooshy says:

    It’s now more than two weeks that I am in Tehran; there are no demonstrations of any kind in this mega city and I have spent some time in and around TU, what I have learned and observed there is a rigorous deep animosity between the self declared class of intellectuals and a traditionalist class that obviously enjoys the support of the majority of Iranians, I can see since three years ago that I was in Iran this divide has became an un healthy and to an extend a childish feud that even reason can no longer help to resolve, in way that my views even if reasoned are not accepted by the group of people I am encountered.

    Interestingly a few days back I had pleasure of speaking to an old employee and now a friend of my childhood and family’s household, which out of respect he had attended my father’s funeral, he had gone back to settle in his village in province of Kerman some 20 years ago, when we spoke about his village (Lalehzar) where he and his family lives, and where he told me last year he was a poll observer for Mr. Mussavi in his village, when I asked about the election results and the form 22 and the ballot procedures, here is what I learned, he told me that after the poll was closed they all counted the ballots three times he remembered that Mr. Karoubi had one vote Mr. Rezai four votes Mr. Mussavi around 40 votes and Mr. Ahmadinijad over 4000 votes there finding was recorded on form 22’s and everyone got a copy to send to his candidate, I asked if he did receive a copy of form 22 and if they check that against the official MOI’s published result the answer was positive, and when I asked why, the answer was they have done a lot for his village in this government(Duellat).

  139. BiBiJon says:

    Reza Esfandiari says:
    March 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    “I hope people realize that nuclear meltdown of a reactor in Iran is a distinct possibility if viral attacks and sanctions are used to thwart the program.”

    From http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/russia-s-nato-envoy-iran-bound-stuxnet-worm-could-have-caused-new-chernobyl-1.339376

    Have you seen any report/memo condemning the stuxnet attack on Bushehr power plant from Mr yukiya amano who as director general of IAEA has responsibility for nuclear technology safety and who’s country of origin is Japan, which is today suffering from the triple disasters of quake, tsunami, and radiation.

    My prayers are with the people of Japan.

  140. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    I suspect a number of Bush administration people thought Israel would be able to root Hezbollah out of south Lebanon in 2006. And let’s remember the idiotic cry of Condoleezza Rice that the insane smashing of Lebanon by Israel were the “birth pangs of a new Middle East”! What an idiot!

  141. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Yes, it is an increasingly dangerous Zionist-expansionist fantasy that Jordan can be destroyed in order to facilitate the theft of the West Bank.

    Rehamt,

    The US Congress has scores of stooges and whores of the Israel lobby in its ranks. This is being conservative.

  142. James Canning says:

    Down with Israel,

    The Israel lobby largely controls the US government, and this regrettable and dangerous situation is not going to change. I say “largely” but not entirely, and there is room for better US-Iran relations, though the Israel lobby will be sure to do its best to prevent them.

  143. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Eric,

    Are you suggesting that the earthquake in Japan was divine intervention on behalf of Qaddafi to distract attention from the fighting in Libya?

    I hope people realize that nuclear meltdown of a reactor in Iran is a distinct possibility if viral attacks and sanctions are used to thwart the program.

  144. A few days ago, Juan Cole quoted someone who’d observed that one cannot stop a war any more than one can stop an earthquake. Whether trite but true or merely trite, that statement in any case overlooks another observation one can fairly make about earthquakes, or at least the recent one in Japan:

    A strong earthquake can stop a war – or at least make people lose interest in that war.

    US press coverage of the Libyan uprising seems to have dropped nearly off the face of the earth in just the three days since the Japanese quake. Christiane Amanpour has decamped from Libya to Japan, for example, filming her “This Week” show from earthquake land and apparently cured of her momentary concern for the people of Libya. Only one of the other half-dozen US Sunday talk shows even mentions Libya (CBS’ Face the Nation), and even that one trots out only a second-tier and third-tier senator (Lieberman and Landrieu) and trims their air time to make ample room for – guess what?

    The editorial page of today’s NY Times (March 13) includes not a single mention of Libya, not even in the letters to the editor. Its Week in Review section includes just one article, concerning Gaddafi’s alleged stashing of billions of dollars in US cash, but even that article includes only two sentences on Gaddafi (remarkable, given the article title, but true).

    The front page of today’s NY Times includes only one article on Libya, below the fold and headed in non-bold type (on the Arab League’s approval of a no-fly zone). Apart from reporting that simple fact, the article consists of nothing more than a shadow-boxing “debate” between its authors (Ethan Bronner and David Sanger) and those in the Obama Administration who apparently feel a less urgent need to get the US involved in yet another Middle East war. (Bronner/Sanger implicitly declare themselves the winners of that debate, though it’s not clear their opponents knew the debate was occurring.)

    On the war front itself, it’s very difficult to obtain on-the-ground updates of the fighting since yesterday, or even since the day before. The only item of note consists of a rebel claim that Gaddafi’s soldiers attacking Misratah – the rebel-held western city now completely surrounded by Gaddafi’s troops and the Mediterranean Sea – are fighting one another and deserting to the rebel side in droves. (Who can doubt such a claim? History is filled with examples of mutinies by soldiers who muster the courage to desert only when their side is on the cusp of a crushing victory over a surrounded enemy and, therefore, deserters are likely to be arrested within days, lined up against a wall, and shot.)

    Difficult as it may have been to predict, it appears that Obama will simply back down from his unequivocal “Gaddafi must go” statement. His opponents will not soon let him forget it, of course: once the dust clears in Japan, they’ll notice that the Libyan uprising has ended with a whimper and undoubtedly will jump all over Obama for “losing” Libya. A similar phenomenon occurred during the early summer of 1990, when Americans’ attention was so distracted by the fall of the Soviet Union that they barely paid attention to the plain and steadily growing threat that Saddam Hussein would soon invade Kuwait. Their attention shifted back to Iraq, however, once Iraqi soldiers were sleeping in Kuwaiti palaces, and the elder George Bush was soon compelled to overcome his “wimp” image by tossing Saddam out of Kuwait.

    Obama is likely to deal with the inevitable criticism in a different way from the elder Bush. As the 2012 election campaign approaches, he probably will base his position on what appears likely to be the ultimate outcome of the Libyan uprising: Gaddafi will re-establish firm military control but will soon accept at least some of the advice of his son, Saif, who has been insisting for quite some time that reforms should be put in place to head off rebellion at the pass. It is not clear precisely what reforms Saif has in mind, nor how many of them his father will agree to, but it appears to be in Gaddafi’s best interest – and thus likely even if he is an unreconstructed bad man – that enough reforms will be put in place that Obama can argue that his calm and measured approach yielded real benefits to the Libyan people while keeping the US out of war. The Libyan rebels – today possessing a purity-of-the-unknown rivaling that of Chauncy Gardner in “Being There” – will in the meantime have been recast in darker tones: their foot soldiers will be said to consist largely of bored teenagers or religious zealots who only recently served as eager volunteers to the Iraqi insurgency; their leaders will be described as disorganized opportunists whose unsubstantiated claims failed to dupe Americans because their wise and courageous president had, almost alone, seen clearly and stood firm.

    That approach won’t convince everyone, of course, notably those who would not vote for Obama no matter what he says or does, but it will probably be sufficient to persuade voters on the fence (the only ones who matter) – especially when one bears in mind that most Americans really couldn’t care less about what happens to the Libyan people.

    The US liberal press will be in a quandary for a while. How will Ethan Bronner and David Sanger, for example, maintain their present criticism of Obama’s self-restraint without turning into cheerleaders for his Republican opponents? But they’ll find a way – more quickly than one might imagine, at least if one is not well-trained in the fine journalistic art of transforming humiliating defeats into resounding victories. In the short run, this approach probably will manifest itself in US press coverage which (after a decent interval, to let recent memories drain) seeks to scrub Saif Gaddafi clean of his recently assigned blemishes – assigned because he is said to have shifted firmly into his father’s war camp – and to anoint him once again as the desired and likely heir to Gaddafi (so much for democracy). Some attention will again be paid to the softening in recent years of Gaddafi’s anti-US stance – indeed, to his forthright cooperativeness in giving up Libya’s real or imagined nuclear weapons program. All in all, staying out of another Middle East war by steering clear of involvement in the Libyan dispute will be presented as a wise policy with which the New York Times and all other founts of Western wisdom have agreed from the outset. The fact that they argue precisely the opposite today will not be mentioned.

  145. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says: March 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    The Axis Powers are beneficiary of 300 years of scholarship by largely European scholars that have recovered the histories of human societies going back more than 9000 years.

    Yet, in the formulation of their Grand Strategy, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – that would distinguish it from that of the Great King, or ancient Athnes, or ancient Rome except the planetary scale of its application.

    Why can’t they do any better?

    The answer is “The Fall of Man”.

    It is for this reason that that things can only be improved so much (the obverse of Murphy’s Law).

    Why do we need Law?

    Because of the Fall of Man.

    Why do we have murder and theft?

    Because of the Fall of Man.

    Why has all attempts at Utopia fail?

    Because of the Fall of Man.

  146. Voice of Tehran says:

    Re.: “ARAB AWAKENING”

    I ‘think’ to might be able to convey the reasons of the Arab or Muslim Awakening , however I lack the expression power to do it.
    Why were the revolutions in Egypt and in Tunisia somehow ‘ clear /cut ‘ and why it this ‘stupid & annoying/disturbing’ revolution in Libya SSSOOO ‘ time consuming ‘ and NOT ‘ clear/cut’ to finish off with it ??
    Could it be , that that the ‘Libyan One ‘ is taking time , ONLY because it is destined to give us a message for the future events in North Africa and spreading the Awakening to rest of the world ?
    Does it want to convey the crucial message , that the Western leaders ( and every one of them ) must be exposed to what intime relation they had ( and still have ) with the ‘Bizare’ leader of an oil rich country , they were totally dependent on , and no ‘green movement’ to cry for ??
    History is unfolding and we will soon find the answers.

  147. Rehmat says:

    A must read from young Iranian journalist and author Kourosh Ziabari.

    A United Iran Against a Collapsing Israel

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/03/13/a-united-iran-against-a-collapsing-israel/comment-page-1/#comment-183237

  148. Fiorangela says:

    off topic

    rethinking George Soros — again.

    earlier, I learned about Soros and was impressed with him. I thought arbitrage was a very cool way to make money, but learned that it’s a game for very smart people that dabblers should avoid. Soros’ relationships with Carl Popper and F Hayak were also impressive, as is Soros’ commitment to ‘Open Society.’ Mr. Soros was quite frank about what wealth conveys; namely, power and freedom, but he also believes that wealth conveys responsibility, and he observed that his family life is also impacted by wealth, not always positively. Withal, he’s an impressive person.

    In an earlier article when the Leveretts wagered against Soros’ view on Iran, I joined them. I still do. But I also respect Soros and bet against him not because I dislike him but because I hope he is wrong for Iran’s sake. That’s a milestone — to be able to separate a policy choice from a personal inclination.

  149. Arnold Evans says:

    masoud says:
    March 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Voice of Tehran says:
    March 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Interesting. I agree with VoT that there’s a lot of room for something like this to backfire.

    Talented politicians if they had the type of support and advantages, disadvantages and strategic situation of Mousavi, would know how to steer clear of counter-productive measures. Erdogan of Turkey, Nasrallah or Hezbollah, even Ahmadinejad, if they found themselves in a political minority wouldn’t take these spectacular gambles that only and greatly further reduce their political standing.

  150. Rehmat says:

    On Purim this month and Israel Lobby Conference two months later – Americans will find out who are the Crypto-Jews among them and who are the traitors they elected to the US Senate.

    Newsflash: “More than 50% US Senators have agreed to attend a conference which represents a country which has the largest espionage network in America”.

    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/israel-country-x/

  151. masoud says:

    Arnold,
    This coming Tuesday is Chahar Shanbe Souri’Wednesday Eve Festival’(I know, it’s an odd name.). It’s a mix between Halloween and a Fire Festival. It’s on the last Wednesday eve of the Iranian solar year. Dark of night, everyone lighting bonfires and runnning the streets etc.. Perfect opportunity for someone to do something stupid, and historically a time of a lot ‘youth’ confrontations with the police. It was unusually quiet last year because the embarrassment of the Moharram riots. The greens might try to go for broke this year, or we might see some particularly unedifying antics from the nastier type of US agents, or booth.

  152. Voice of Tehran says:

    Arnold Evans says:
    March 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Arnold Evans says:
    March 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    “Really? Why? What have you heard?”

    Arnold , difficult to give you ‘my’ feeling and to express the momentum.
    Imagine , terrorists and ill-wishers joining the Main Carneval in Rio to create a ‘mess’.
    It will be an utmost difficult task for the security forces to ‘control’ the situation in a city of 15 million , but the “Overall” Insurance of the Hidden Immam , also foresees the dangers of a ‘ carneval ‘.

  153. Fiorangela says:

    fyi, on the previous thread: “why do you blame US and Israel; the problem is man’s fallen nature” or words to that effect.

    yer right, fyi.

    next time a patrolman stops me for speeding, I’ll explain that it wasn’t my fault, it’s my fallen nature. Give HIM the ticket.
    ____

    in other old news:

    83% of Likud Members Oppose Concessions

    note this comment in the talkback:

    The Jordanian Option
    * Author: Observer in America
    * Country: USA
    * 03/12/2011 01:36

    Jordan is Palestine. Time to recognize the fact, and prepare for removing large numbers of Arabs from Gaza, Judea, Samaria and the Negev to Jordan. The Hashemites have only managed to maintain control by ruthlessly oppressing the native Arab majority in Jordan; that oppression will eventually fail and the monarchy will be overthrown.

    Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

  154. Arnold Evans says:

    Voice of Tehran says:
    March 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I predict a ‘ troublesome ‘ forthcoming Tuesday for Tehran(Iran )

    Really? Why?

    What have you heard?

  155. Voice of Tehran says:

    @All

    I predict a ‘ troublesome ‘ forthcoming Tuesday for Tehran(Iran ) , however the consequences that will follow the events , will be the last nail in the coffin of the enemies of Iran .
    Jutice Awakening in the world is taking a pace beyond our imagination.

  156. James Canning says:

    The US was seriously foolish in its failure to promote the 2002 Saudi peace plan. And seriously stupid in failing to push Israel into accepting Syria’s long-standing offer of peace. And seriously stupid in applauding Israel’s massacre in Gaza in 2008-09. And in vetoing the recent UNSC resolution calling for Israel to stop growing the illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank.

  157. James Canning says:

    The Soviet Union demonstrated in Afghanistan that hard military power does not carry the day, given challenging terrain and determineed opposition (provided of course with surfacew-to-air missiles).

    Israel demonstrated it can smash Lebanese infrastructure with high-tech weapons, and fat lot of good it does, toward rooting out Hezbollah. Israel needs to recognise that Hezbollah is not a threat to Israel, unless Israel attacks first (or creates an idiotic war with Iran).

  158. fyi says:

    masoud says: March 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you for your comment and correcting my mistaken inclusion of Mr. Dabashi in my errorneous generalization.

    I am personally frustrated with very many Iranians that reject the Islamic Republic and then take refuge in a fantasy world that has no similarity to the past and no chance of realization in the future.

    The reform of the Islamic Republic, indeed the formation of improved governance structures in that country, is the back-breaking task of decades. A simple change of the current constitutional dispensation will not usher in improved governance in Iran.

  159. masoud says:

    fyi says:
    March 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm,

    fyi,
    You should be careful about grouping like that. There’s a lot of negative things you can say about Hamid Dabashi, that he is obsessed with some kind of ancient pre-Islamic Iran isn’t one of them. Actually he goes to far in the other extreme, completely trashing pre-Islamic Iran, while fetishizing the Greek philosophers(the disgusting slave society the city states those philosopher’s worked in is apparently of no concern to him here.) He even goes as far as comparing Cyrus the Great the George W. Bush. But to give him credit where it is due, he does make the same excellent point with regard to these (other )supposedly super patriotic Iranian’s rejection of the bulk of their heritage that you do.

  160. Fiorangela says:

    spectacular find, Cyrus Safdari.

    re this statement in the memo:

    TCN will be the Facebook, twitter, NPR, and C-Span of Persian media under one roof with a focus on social and political issues concerning the Iranian public inside the country, in the region, and abroad. It will be a uniting factor that is demand-driven (commercially sustainable). TCN will not produce content but provide technical services for the benefit of Iranian civil society.

    Interesting that TCN focused on Facebook, twitter, NPR, and C-Span and not CNN or Fox News. TCN must recognize they’re pitching to the elite in Iran, which is the niche NPR & C-Span reach. In addition, NPR and C Span are still deemed credible by many Americans, although a statistical study can easily demonstrate that Zionists exert a major influence on C-Span and NPR. As well, through ownership linkages, it is likely that zionists are even more influential with Facebook and Twitter, and can use it as a two-way communications network.

  161. fyi says:

    Reza Esfandiari:

    Sadjadpour, Milani, Takeyh, Hashemi, Dabashi and others are all Persians or from Persian extraction. They have a mental vision, like so many other Persians, that ties contemporary Iran to the mythical Iran of pre-Islamic Iran. THey cannot explain why Azeris or any other non-Persians should consider Iran to be their country.

    They also oppose the Islamic Disaster in Iran and attribute it to the influence of the mullah social crust; i.e. the graduates of what has been left of ancient Muslim Universities. They are oblivious to the extent by which this Islamic Nekbat has been driven by the religiosity of lower classes in Iran.

  162. Dan Cooper says:

    Reza Esfandiari says:
    March 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

    “The benefit that the Leveretts bring to Iran policy is that they don’t bring any personal or ideological baggage that Sadjadpour, Milani, Takeyh, Hashemi, Dabashi and others bring along. They just see things as they are and not how they would like to see them.”

    Couldn’t agree more

  163. Reza Esfandiari says:

    Masoud,

    The author of the article, Robert Tait, is an employee of Radio Liberty and not the Observer – the mouthpiece of the U.S Congress. He used to work for the Guardian.

    His source, Hadi Ghaemi, cannot be treated as a credible source given his politics.

  164. masoud says:

    After reading Cyrus’ article, i decided to try my luck with reddit, as i had never used it before. I type in ‘Iran’ into the search, and here is the very first article.

    “Iran ‘using child soldiers’ to suppress Tehran protests”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/13/iran-child-soldiers-tehran-protests

    “One middle-aged woman, who said she was attacked by the youths, reported that some were as young as 12 and were possibly prepubescent. They had rural accents, which indicated they had been brought in from villages far from Tehran, she said.

    Some told her they had been attracted by the promise of chelo kebab dinners, one of Iran’s national dishes.”

    And here’s the byline.

    “Robert Tait is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL and a former Tehran correspondent for the Observer.”

    I mean, Jesus. A couple of weeks ago our hosts wrote something along the lines of “In the coming weeks Washington will try to ‘get something going’ in Iran. The spectacle will not be edifying”. I’m nominating them for understatement of the year.

  165. Reza Esfandiari says:

    What impresses me most about Hillary Mann Leverett is that she has made the effort to understand the internal dynamics of Iran and the region, and how the people of the ME themselves perceive their own situation.

    Too often Washington pundits try and interpret events in terms of their own preferences and wishful thinking which can completely cloud their judgment and ability to formulate a credible policy and strategy.

    I notice how Karim Sadjadpour was mentioned in the Q&A. The CEIP “expert” simply cannot divorce himself from his won enmity of Khamenei. Hence, he will always try and make the Iranian leader appear unpopular, recalcitrant and inflexible because this analysis derives from his own personal disdain.

    The benefit that the Leveretts bring to Iran policy is that they don’t bring any personal or ideological baggage that Sadjadpour, Milani, Takeyh, Hashemi, Dabashi and others bring along. They just see things as they are and not how they would like to see them.

  166. Neil M says:

    RFI has published many resonant analyses but this step-by-step update belongs on a “Best Of” shortlist. I hope that it is reproduced elsewhere and widely read.

    My only reservation, with regard to the optimism it encourages, is the puzzling decision by the Arab League to endorse the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. Both Israel and the US have been working night and day for many years to delegitimize the UN as the court of last resort for conflict resolution. There is a serious risk that this decision by the Arab League will be opportunistically interpreted by Obama as de facto UN approval of a vicious, dishonest, disrespectful, cowardly and incompetent US/NATO “military solution” of the Iraq kind.

    The US-led “West” could have shipped, or facilitated the shipping of, appropriately heavier arms to the Libyan resistance while it still had control of some territory. Obviously, it has not done so. One can only conclude that this tardiness was a deliberate ploy to allow Qaddafi to prevail in order to strengthen the case for a pseudo-humanitarian intervention entailing massive and indiscriminate slaughter and vandalism followed by US military occupation of Libya and its oil resources.

  167. M.Ali says:

    Great fine, Cyrus. We always knew this was done, but interesting to see the details of it

  168. Pirouz says:

    My take on the “Democracy Council” document is that it’s a vindication of what VEVAK has been warning against for some time now. It’s pretty explicit and I can see how the author is quite embarrassed by its release. They’ll have to at least come up with a name change should this concept be implemented! lol

  169. Hank says:

    The israel lobby have pushed US out of the middle east since the US have pursued a role in the ME that is not popular. The voice of resistance is greater than the voice of subordination of US superpower. US silence on Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, Saudi, Morocco et.c. uprsing is pathetic.

  170. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    It’s true that Iranian soft power is effective, but I wouldn’t discount Iran’s hard power either. In terms of military capabilities and economic size, Iran and Turkey are in a different league than all others in the region- including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

  171. BiBiJon says:

    Cyrus says:
    March 13, 2011 at 5:16 am

    I tend to agree with your take when you said:

    “these sorts of information warfare campaigns directed against Iran are silly and mostly just self-serving. If they have any persuasive effect, it is in the US rather than in Iran, and even there it is largely negative because it creates a sort of dogma about the Green Movement that may be favored by certain exiles and their wishful thinking, but has no real relationship to Iranians inside Iran. See, the people of Iran don’t lack for information. They have had years of this sort of media campaigns directed towards them. They’re not fooled. But the “blowback” (deliberate?) of these sorts of campaigns creates a certain narrative and conventional wisdom that (is meant to) box policymakers in the US when dealing with Iran. Afterall, that’s why you see so many articles which doth protest too much that the Green Movement is alive and the “Jasmin Revolutions” sweeping across Arab countries not only do not work in Iran’s favor but will ultimately topple the Islamic Republic etc. Rubbish.”

  172. Voice of Tehran says:

    Cyrus says:
    March 13, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Re.: Full-text of “TCN Concept Paper 3-5-11″

    Dear Cyrus , quite ‘shocking’ news .
    Do you have any idea of the costs for this “Concept” and the real sources of funding ?

  173. BiBiJon says:

    Having listened to Hillary’s excellent lecture, I feel she burst one mythical balloon particularly cogently. The myth of US strategy and actions in the Mid East being guided by a desire for stability.

    She demolished that myth by citing examples of forcing Egypt into destabilizingly unpopular actions such as participating in a siege of Gaza, and the extraordinary rendition program. Indeed,if the much prized stability were a US strategic objective, one would not expect the King of SA to blame hizbullah when Israel was unleashing an inhumane wrath upon Lebanon, etc. etc. These unrestrained demands on US client despots to eat their own excrement live on al-Jazeera has done much to convince everyone in and beyond Mid East of US’ strategic ineptitude. Hilary talked about how US legitimacy has been dented. I think more proximately consequential is that American hard power has been destroyed — yes, everyone can see we have a gun, but for good reason they doubt we are capable of aiming it.

    Obama was elected to change this ‘mindset’.

  174. Down With Israel says:

    what about Israel? What should the US government do in regards to the powerful Israeli lobby? Are the Leveretts too scared to tackle the Israeli problem? Why are they not suggesting severing ties with Israel if it continues its settlements and continues breaking international law? What benefits if any does close ties with Israel have for the American people? You can’t expect close ties with both Iran and Israel. It’s one thing to play down the opposition movements inside Iran, but to also play down Israel’s “soft power” inside the United States is just as problematic.

  175. Cyrus says:

    Read up on how the US planned to create a “soft power” propaganda network directed against Iran at IranAffairs.com, specifically in an internal document of the “Democracy Council” that was leaked out. The full text of that document is now posted at http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2011/03/full-text-of-tcn-concept-paper-3-5-11.html

    This is a classic black propaganda operation, the same as was carried out in the Cold War when the CIA secretly funded intellectuals and artists using foundations as fronts as part of a cultural cold war against Russia.

  176. Liz says:

    Excellent job. Thank you.

  177. Excellent presentation. However, with regard to “the United States needs to come to terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran” – email me when that happens.

    The US is going to war with Iran before that happens.