The Infernal Iranian Issue

With the war of words heating up between Iran and the United States and its allies, the question is will it cool down or finally escalate into military action from either side? Iran and the West’s relationship has a sorted past, Iranians look at any dealings with the West and only see bloodshed and suffering. The West looks at Iran particularly since the Islamic Revolution as an irrational uncooperative nation that doesn’t conform to the norms set by the “International Community.”

As things have been heating up in the war of words, I’ve seen what appears to be a move in the direction of military action from the US directed at Iran, most likely in the form of a precision strike. From the Iranian side they are certainly ramping things up, flexing a little muscle in naval exercises and increasing the rhetoric. As for each sides media machines, the American pundits and experts have begun ramping up the push to use a precision strike on Iranian nuclear facilities and I don’t honestly know Iranian press well enough to know if they are ramping up beyond their usual “Zionist” this and “evil Americans” that rhetoric.

Iranian citizens expressing their love for America

I’m a firm believer that at this point in history all we can ever hope from relations with Iran is just normalized diplomatic relations, nothing friendly, but at least an official direct relationship. Each side’s population has been told for so long that the other is evil, so much so that it strains any attempt at normalized diplomatic relations.

The general public has no clue that during the initial phase of the war in Afghanistan, Iran was actually helping us out in various ways. Yes you read that right, helping us, granted they had a very vested interest in expelling the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan and they wanted a stake and power in shaping Afghanistan, their neighbor’s future, which was cause for my lack of shock when it came out back in the Fall that the Karzai government had been accepting money from Iran. If the general population was aware of this cooperation, they would’ve been outraged or at least the pundits, as they were when they learned about the Karzai government taking Iranian money.

Bush after the 2002 State of The Union often referred to the "Axis of Evil"

This little blip of cooperation gives me that tiny bit of hope that someday at the minimum we can have normalized relations, no matter how brief the cooperation shattered by Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech and the subsequent freeze out from America on anything relating to Afghanistan. Which is not surprising, America did support the Taliban in the 90′s in hopes they would consolidate power, thus giving a stable partner to build an oil and gas pipeline from the unexploited Central Asian States to Pakistan, in order to by-pass Iran, who had actually built a pipeline and railroad to its boarder in anticipation of making deals with the CAS for the resources.

The isolated leaders embrace each other in a non-gay way.

Fast forward to today and we have Ahmadinejad going around the world using fiery language railing against the West, essentially baiting the West to do something. At the same time there is a rift between his government and the supreme leaders, they feel he is trying to change Iran and they don’t like it, I know they recently came out and condemned the assassination of the scientist, which I’m fairly convinced was actually committed by Iran, for fear he may be a defector and used to boost it’s anti-Western rhetoric. The Supreme Leaders also despite all the rhetoric, would prefer not to end up engaged in a war with the West militarily, it would truly be costly to both sides if it escalated, despite Western civilizations continuing decline, it is still the most powerful militarily.

China shopping around for other oil suppliers than Iran

I also see signs that the Chinese are expecting something to happen, either economically or militarily, as of last week Chinese officials were jetting around the Mid-East looking for more oil trading partners, both for future needs and for the anticipation of some sort of disruption in either Iranian oil or other OPEC countries in the Gulf. Obviously with America passing stiff sanctions on those that deal with the Iranian central bank, which actually sells the oil and the European Union considering stiff sanctions, under intense American pressure, the Chinese are no fools and are securing a supply of oil while it’s still relatively cheap.

A few weeks ago I had been extremely confident that America either with our allies or not, was going to do a precision strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, my confidence is a little lower right now in that prediction or at least within my 6 to 12 month window I gave it. Only because while China has cut it’s order for Iranian oil and is currently shopping for other sources, America is currently experiencing a little push back from, China, Japan, and some EU countries, such as Greece, which buys Iranian oil and obviously can’t take any action that will push their economy even further over the brink. Currently America’s stature is being tested, in the past, with just a little arm twisting America would general get the world to go along with it’s demands, but right now with people perceiving a shift from Western civilizational domination and an American-European civilization revitalization to refuel Western domination looking dim; the ability of American, English, French, and German diplomats to arm twist the world into complete isolation of Iran and supporting military action is not so great.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamani, the Supreme Leader of Iran

Iran’s not stupid no matter what the pundits in the media will say; they see the writing on the wall and are trying to counter like a game of chess. They know that one of the keys to us taking military action is ensuring there is no disruption in the supply of oil in the global market, even if Iran shut down the strait of Hormuz, so what did they announce recently, that if Saudi Arabia or any other OPEC member increases production, they will see it as unfriendly and may block the strait. Essentially they are reading our poker faces, and probably our policy and media publications, they have called out one of the pillars of our strategy.

A market in Tehran

What a lot of people are forgetting in the midst of this, is that the average Iranian is suffering, already with the economic sanctions in place currently. This isolation plan failed in Iraq and actually held up the crumbling Saddam regime as it gave plenty of reasons for the regime to crack down on dissidents and paint them as agents of the West trying to force regime change. While I believe the ultimate goal of American Iranian policy is regime change, because who doesn’t want a stable friendly partner, rather than an unfriendly and uncooperative nuisance in an already unstable region. Unfortunately the idea of regime change solving American and Iranian policy woes is as misguided as propping up the Shah was. The problem is even if there were regime change in Iran; it doesn’t change the hearts and minds of the Iranian people. While American’s may have a very selective and short memory, the rest of world doesn’t always have the same quality. While people may say we eventually became good friends with countries such as Germany and Japan after WWII, these were different scenarios and it still took years to win over the public, particularly Japan, which saw us as an occupying force and some on Okinawa would still say this.

At the end of the day Iran, wants to be the regional power, and they will continue to do things to secure their place, this is one of the reasons they don’t get along with Saudi Arabia, of course the big one being the Sunni/Shia split, which is a tale as old as time. They also see nuclear weapons as a defense against American/Israeli attack, these are not offensive weapons they want to build, but they certainly would be a game changer on the regional power and of course Saudi Arabia in it’s pleas to get America to attack Iran, have threatened to develop their own nuclear weapons if Iran obtains them. They are essentially arm twisting us, by threatening a Mid-East nuclear arms race.

What is my opinion on what America should do? Right now, let things cool off, but in the background continue to put things in place, in case we need to make a precision strike and make it clear to Iran that we will use it if we have to, no matter their retaliation or threats, is my cold calculated policy answer. The not as calculated and risky answer would be that we need to cool it off, and work through a country such as China that has a relationship with Iran and begin to work on more diplomatic relations and resolutions that don’t result in Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon or military action on either side. That’s what makes this situation much more complicated than American-Soviet relations of the past, Washington and Moscow at least had direct communication. Washington and Tehran don’t have that luxury an erroneous decision on both sides to not have direct communications, I understand the ill feelings, but it’s time to put aside some of the differences and once again engage in actual direct diplomacy, so that situations like this can be defused much easier in the future, and perhaps even stabilize the region a bit, one can dream right?

Update: Because I have been slow on publishing this, there has been one recent update and is that the EU has passed sanctions against Iran. They have passed these sanctions with a timetable for enforcement that is fairly opened ended. They are looking at June, but there is an ability for a review to extend it. So who knows when they will actually be enforced. Greece was most likely behind the timetable and once again Saudi Arabia is reminding the world they have an additional 2mil barrel a day capacity, that they will use to make up for the shortfall of Iranian oil.

 
MILTONKEYNES



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