Afghanistan, Iran and U.S. power

This is from a message by my e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey.  It’s as good an analysis as I’ve seen lately. .

Whether my speculation on the continuing US presence in Afghan has much to do with their intransigence there, I can’t see the pressure-on-Iran angle as water under the bridge, whatever the status of the nuclear deal.

There are at least these factors: –

Long-time obsession, certainly 1979 on, with Iran for many of the people with a say in making the decisions. –

Iran’s role in MEast:

US fealty to Israel.

US- Saudi relationship, though not as firm as it used to be, remains in operational high gear.

Iran’s reach throughout the region-  Hezbollah; the Houthis; the Palestinians; the Assad regime; the ascendant position of the Shias in Iraq, courtesy of the Bush II gang.

What am I missing?

Yes, there’s the pivot to Asia where I agree our greater focus should be, but these factors in MEast won’t be overlooked any time soon.

– Iran in US-Europe entanglements- finance capital and energy policy, where the US squeeze on Europe has all but slipped away. And NATO, which has taken a hit recently from Trump (even a broken clock is right twice a day), will continue to be a sore point, especially when the Afghanistan post-mortems begin and many European commentators will be asking “How did we ever get into THAT?”

– Iran itself has been and continues to be a big plum for imperial gazers. In addition to all the other factors I list here: oil; other resources?  – natural gas in the field in the Gulf and co-administered with Quatar is the largest reserve in the world; 75 million relatively prosperous (or could be) souls- quite a market opportunity (The Burger King in Pristina, tennis shoes, movies, bank loans for mega-dams…); and quite a few hands to work the small assembly industry that once was growing in Iran; yet another “threat” for military producers and their flunkies to use to gas up Congress (as if they need it). … …

– Internal Iranian politics- properly speaking, not a factor for this list, but a factor: Who in Iran, of whatever political persuasion, could sensibly trust the US on anything?

– THE UPSHOT: The imperialists are between a rock and a hard place. Everywhere their options are limited by the will of others and most of those limited options have obvious unhappy downsides for them. Their stumble-bumbling is rooted in this predicament. It’s dangerous.

So while I agree both that China should be our main focus and that it’s not clear what the Biden administration intends v-a-v China, it’s in this regard that their options are most limited. The economies are interwoven to a point where outright war is foolishness, not to mention that consideration of that option in military terms could hardly be appealing.  The nuclear gambit looks no more hopeful for them; somebody in the Pentagon must have heard something about nuclear winter.

So they fall back on every proven ineffective posture they can think of—long story short, a renewed Cold War v. both China and Russia. I take this to be mainly for domestic US consumption as a cover for their predicament. Richard Wolff considers Biden’s posturing to be a straight-up attempt at Cold War distraction with no real substance.

I take this to be as good a take as I’m able to come up with in answer to puzzlement over current China “policy,” rooted in their complete lack of imperial options.  Threats, posturing, assertions of their service to the world (MacLeod here)—that’s about all they’ve got when they don’t have jack. It’s dangerous. (This at a time when we’re in sore need of effective international coordination on so many urgent issues.)

This brings us back to US-Iran//Afghanistan for THE CLINCHER:

– Iran in the mix of the US’s imperial (non-)response to China’s ascendance. Is it too much to say that China has consolidated an alliance with Russia?  Cold War pride leads a lot of DC dickheads [Saagar Enjeti top of the list] to carp about “Oh, Russia, a third rate power,” but how much reality do we need to be able to notice that Russia is itself a huge obstacle to the West’s imperial design? It’s a military power, the only nuclear power with the ability to check the United States, a power that has repeatedly in fact checked and even check-mated the US- Kosovo, European energy policy, Syria, Venezuela, and even Iran, more?, Africa?- an oil and gas powerhouse, situated as it is geopolitically, and with the 6th (?) largest population in the world?  Quite a complement to the power China itself holds in many key areas.

And is Iran, with all the attributes listed above, not on the same course into the China camp? If such a three-way alliance is actually consolidated, won’t India have to notice the directional flow of things?

I’m not going for a simple “good” or “bad” here, only to describe what appear to me to be the trends. It’s easy enough to imagine many Iranians looking at China with a wary eye.

Blink your eyes and it might become necessary for the US to deal w China as a sovereign nation!

Did I mention that it’s dangerous?


Dangerous Motives Behind U.S. Aggression Toward Russia and China, an interview of Prof. Richard D. Wolff for Act.TV.  A short excerpt.

Support the Tropes: How media language encourages the left to support wars, coups and military intervention by Alan MacLeod for FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Media)

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One Response to “Afghanistan, Iran and U.S. power”

  1. Bill Harvey Says:

    Thanks much, Phil! I’m eager to hear from your readers.

    The Richard Wolff link given here is useful, but here’s the one I had in mind:

    3/23/21, “China policy as political theater”


    Liked by 1 person

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