In this interview, Vali Nasr, a professor of international politics at Tufts University and a former adviser to the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, says the Obama administration has backed the Iranian government into a no-win situation—accept economic sanctions that will destroy the country economically, or risk a war with the United States and its allies that will destroy the country physically.
President Obama’s intentions toward Iran are, as usual, hard to interpret. I have read commentators who say his earlier talk of dialogue with Iran a setup to show that the Iranians are unreasonable so that he could organize an anti-Iran coalition and justify anti-Iran sanctions, covert action and threats. I have read commentators who say his anti-Iran sanctions and threats are a setup to neutralize war hawks in the United States and Israel.
Whatever his intentions, the threat to block Iran’s oil exports is a threat to destroy the Iranian economy. The Iranian government must choose whether to surrender or fight. The Obama administration would no doubt reply that all the Iranian government has to do to end the sanctions is to give up its nuclear program—that is, its ability to defend itself. The Associated Press reported in my morning newspaper that Israeli hawks are openly pressing for an attack on Iran while the country is still unable to retaliate.
War to change the Iranian regime is a risky business. We would risk loss of access to Persian Gulf oil and a worldwide economic crash. We would risk military confrontation with China and other countries. We would face the certainty that the surviving Iranians would be committed to revenge against the United States and Israel, and the likelihood of a new regime that actually would be completely fanatical and irrational.
Stepping back from this brink would be a risk to the President’s re-election. Continuing in the present policy would be a risk to the country. President Obama has said all options are on the table. One of these ought to be diplomacy.
Click on The Iranian oil embargo blowback for insight from Pepe Escobar of Asia Times on the impact of an Iranian oil embargo on the economy of Europe and the rest of the world..
Hat tip for the video to Glenn Greenwald.