Posts Tagged ‘Attack on Iran’

Can the Saudis lure the US into a war with Iran?

May 19, 2017

Prince Salman meets with President Trump in March

The young new ruler of Saudi Arabia, Prince Salman bin Mohammad, is trying to organize an alliance of Sunni Muslim nations against Shiite Iran.

And President Donald Trump is expected to endorse an anti-Iranian “Arab NATO” during his forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.

This is a terrible idea.   It doesn’t benefit Americans and it risks a war that would be disastrous for both Americans and people in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia is an enormously wealthy nation, but it is thinly populated and militarily weak.  It depends on the United States for its defense.  In return, the Saudis buy billions of dollars in armaments from American companies and pump oil in sufficient quantities to keep world oil prices low.

So the United States since the 1970s has sided with Saudi Arabia and also Israel against their geopolitical rivals in the region.   Once Saudi Arabia’s chief rival and threat was Iraq.  Now it is Iran.

This has nothing to do with making Americans safe from terrorism, and everything to do with promoting the strategic and economic interests of Saudi Arabia.

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If the US attacks Iran, what happens next?

March 15, 2015

Suppose the United States attacks Iran, as we did Iraq, in order to destroy its nuclear weapons program.

That’s pretty much what Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu wants.  It’s what Senator Tom Cotton and his supporters want.  It’s what influential neo-conservatives such as Joshua Muravchik, writing in last week’s Washington Post, want.

Put to one side the question of whether such a program actually exists.  Also put to one side the morality of attacking a nation that is not a threat to the United States and killing bystanders who have as much right to live in this world as you or I or the people who worked in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

What would happen next?

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Given the U.S. experience in Iraq, I don’t think the United States would actually attempt to invade Iran, a nation whose population is more than double Iraq’s and whose area is three times as big.   What is more likely is a bombing attack—hopefully not nuclear—to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

What would happen after that?  Whether or not the Iranian government has the intention of developing nuclear weapons now, it surely would do so then.   Muravchik wrote that this would not be a problem.  Just drop more bombs.

What if Iranian-backed Shiite Muslims, in retaliation, attack Americans in the Middle East or even in our homeland?  Muravchik said this would be a price the U.S. would have to pay in order to keep bombing Iran as long as necessary.

Would this be a solution to the Iran problem?  The U.S. pursued an policy similar to this with Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War, with economic warfare and intermittent bombing.  It didn’t solve the problem.

Israel’s attacks on the population of Gaza haven’t made Israel safer.   Turning Iran into a Gaza writ large wouldn’t make either Israel or the United States safer.  The only result would be to make both countries more hated.

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Those who do not learn from history…

April 3, 2012

President Obama’s deep game

March 14, 2012

President Obama’s admirers say that he plays a deep game, that he is always thinking three or four steps ahead of everybody else.   You shouldn’t take what he’s doing and saying at face value, they say; the logic of what he’s doing will be revealed after the fact.

Is President Obama playing a deep game on Iran?  If so, who is he playing it against?

Recently he gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Monthly.  Goldberg served as a young man in the Israeli Defense Forces and has good sources within the current government of Israel.   Here is part of what the President told him.

We are going to continue to apply pressure until Iran takes a different course. … … It means a political component … a diplomatic component …  and it includes a military component.  And I think people understand that.

I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.   I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are.  But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.

via The Atlantic.

A day later the President said the following in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.

via POLITICO.com.

Now if President Obama’s aim is to avoid war with Iran, and to use sanctions and diplomacy as a stalling tactic, this interview was a terrible blunder.  If sanctions and diplomacy fail to pressure the Iranian government into abandoning its nuclear program, which seems to me quite likely, then Obama by his words has put himself in the situation in which he either has to go to war or admit that, in fact, he really was bluffing.

But what if his aim is not peace, but war?  What if his aim is to co-opt liberals into going along with an attack on Iran?  He has redefined the issue so that it is no longer war against Iran vs. peace with Iran.   Now it is war against Iran right away vs. war with Iran when and if economic sanctions and covert action fail.

An attack on Iran would not be an isolated event.  Iran is a larger, more powerful and more united nation than Iraq or Afghanistan were.  This would be the start of an open-ended conflict which would not be limited to Iranian soil.

Of course I can’t know President Obama’s mind.  I can only know what he publicly says and does.  And right now his statements and his actions duplicate all the mistakes of the George W. Bush administration, but on a larger scale.

Click on Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I don’t bluff’ for the complete interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.

Click on Transcript of Obama’s AIPAC speech for the complete speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Click on The 0% Solution: War as the President’s Private Preserve for analysis of the implications of President Obama’s statements by Tom Englehardt on his TomDispatch web log.

Click on Top Ten Dangers for Obama of Iran Sanctions on Behalf of Israel for moral and political objections to economic warfare against Iran by Prof. Juan Cole, professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, on his Informed Comment web log.