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January 29, 2007

Alarming new squeeze on Iran

According to today's daily briefing from the The Council on Foreign Relations, the Bush administration is stepping up pressure on Iran, just as Tehran seems to be softening its nuclear stance:

The bank squeezes, seizures in Iraq, and movement of carrier groups in the Gulf also appear to be an attempt by Washington to take advantage of perceived divisions within the Iranian regime. In particular, many experts say the Iranian elite may now be reconsidering its approach to retaining a civilian nuclear program. A few editorialists representing Iranian hard-line elites have voiced their displeasure with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear showmanship. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his chief arms negotiator Ali Larijani, who wield more influence over foreign policy than Ahmadinejad, have indicated they may soften Iran's nuclear stance.

Khameini and other elements within Iran's ruling class appear intent on reining in Ahmadinejad. His anti-Western rhetoric and nuclear posturing, domestic critics say, have only undermined Iran's position and damaged its economy.

Yes, that's right, the clown in the White House now is now trying to financially isolate Iran by pressuring various institutions to sever ties with Iranian banks. The U.S. has already positioned a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf, in what is thought to be a threatening gesture towards Tehran. Don't forget the recent raid on the quasi-consulate in Kurdistan, the US backing of MEK guerillas inside Iran, and Bush's showy authorization to American troops to kill "Iranian operatives" in Iraq.

According to a new poll most Iranian support uranium enrichment, but also want their country to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to the poll, only 15% of Iranians want to withdraw from the NNT, which gives Iran the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

There is no Iranian nuclear crisis. The Bush administration just wants another war.

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Comments

Ian Masters did a great interview with Col. Sam Gardiner last week.

Gardiner says if and when a third carrier group moves into the Gulf - the likely candidate being the Nimitz - we'll have crossed the Rubicon.

Correction

There is a nuclear crisis. A nation that doesn't need nuclear power is rapidly gaining nuclear technology, as it threatens to exterminate another country. Now why would they do that, largely in secret?

The United Nations security council unanimously sanctioned Iran for its secretiveness and non-compliance with IAEA regulations. Including France. Pourquoi?


Noone wants war with Iran. For reasons that are quite obvious-its too big, it's too far away, the existing commitment in Iraq; the population, much of the young generation which is actually pro-US and pro-West would back the Iranian state, etc.

The US does not really know what to do. Nor do I. Negotiating with Ahmadinejad would be a complete waste of time.

But to say that anyone "wants another war" is incorrect.

Apart from these points, the post is entirely correct.

Not all bad things are crises.

Iran's nuclear program might still be contained through diplomatic engagement and relatively minor concessions on our part. The rest of the developed world is serious about negotiating with Iran.

Our president seems determined to provoke an immediate crisis for no good reason. There's no better way to make otherwise rational people want nuclear weapons than to threaten them.

Iran is five to ten years away from a nuclear weapon.

Most Iranians don't want to opt out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. They want to act on their right as signatories of the treaty to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Iran has a very young population and an aspiring secular progressive middle class that doesn't want to make the country into an armed camp isolated from the rest of the world. This crazy administration, and I hate to add, John Edwards, seem determined to drive Iran into the arms of the sectarian crazies.

Then we'll have a crisis.

But do you agree that a major reason for Iran developing this technology is probably to develop nuclear weapons? Likely to be used against you-know-who?

Bullshit, Phantom.

If Iran nukes Israel, Bush turns Iran into a parking lot while screaming "LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!!!"

And Iran knows it.

John Edwards?

Forget Bush. Israel has nukes, too. It's not especially responsible with them - it's threatened a first strike against Iran - but it has an invulnerable second strike capability.

Israel does not want to eliminate any Arab or Muslim nation.

The Iranian leader has given very specific threats to obliterate the state of Israel. Which presumably would lead to a slight loss of life.

Yikes. Thanks for the heads-up on Edwards, Lindsay. Quite a nasty bit of pandering there.

Ahmadenijad has been sinking domestically for some time; perhaps his only hope for a political resurrection will come from the same reptillian-brain fear of foreign attack among Iranians that Bush has built his presidency on here. This has nothing to do with rational threats, however. Bush is a drowning man, and will cling to any fantasy that offers the illusory promise of allowing him to escape from reality one more time.

"Noone wants war with Iran."

I'd agree with that. Quite a lot of people want to attack it militarily though. War involves nations fighting back, and no one wants that. They just want to bomb it a bit.

Iran is a country; it doesn't have wants. The people who run Iran have significant differences in what they want. They are essentially an oligarchy. Ahmadinijad is more of a trial balloon than a chief executive.

It is most probable that some of the rulers of Iran want nuclear weapons. It is also perfectly reasonable for them to want nuclear power. Nuclear plants in Iran would not face the same litigation difficulties that they do in the US. This would make recouping initial investment very quick. When oil costs $70 a barrel, even the people who pump it out of the ground don't want to burn it; they want to sell it. It's much better to generate electricity with cheap nuclear power and sell the oil to the people too foolish to do likewise.

The U.S. and Iran have had a long and complex relationship. During WWII in 1941 when the German Axis was attempting to create a proNazi coup in Iran, Britain and Russia invaded Iran and forced the current Shah of Iran to resign and replaced him with his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to create a government more loyal and friendly to the British and Soviet allies. By 1951, a democratic government headed by Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh rose to power in Iran, but after nationalization of the early version of BP Oil, then called the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, fears in the West heightened by the Cold War tensions with the Soviets fueled American CIA interests in overthrowing the democratic Mossadegh government and making the Shah the absolute ruler in Iran. Harry Truman refused to support a CIA coup during his administration, but President Eisenhower had far more antiCommunists in his administration including Vice President Nixon, that eventually supported a CIA backed coup that brought the Shah to absolute power by 1953. Iran was seen as a vital link to blocking worldwide creeping Communism during the Cold War period, and the Shah's iron fisted policies were given strong support by every American administration from Eisenhower to Carter despite serious human rights violations in Iran.

Since the U.S. policy towards Iran supported the iron fisted rule of the Shah, instead of attempting to co-opt a moderate like a Nelson Mandala such as in South Africa into a power change of government and prevent a radical government from taking hold in Iran, the only strong organized opposition to the Shah was best organized by supporters of the extremist Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Khomeini, who was living in exile in paris.

It was with the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, with Islamic radicals seizing power and holding as many as 66 Americans hostage at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Tehran for 444 days, that modern American anger really jelled at Iran. There was a strong mutual hate set in motion by the continued American support for the cruel rule of the Shah for so many years by the Iranians, and mutual American anger at the outrageous hostage incident as well.

As Iran became more powerful in the region, it sought to have Saddam Hussein overthrown in 1980 so that Iran could exert more power over Iraq with the world's largest undiscovered oil reserves, estimated at about 220 billion barrels of oil. A series of border incidents took place after Iraqi soldiers invaded Iran in 1980 and a war between both countries continued until 1988.

The Reagan Administration illegally used Agriculture Department CCC funds intended for emergency food relief from natural disasters to allow Iraq to buy weapons from France and Brazil and looked the other way when Iraq used both mustard gas and tabun nerve agent on the far superior Iranian forces. However this massive arms buildup in Iraq by the U.S. for the grossly irresponsible Saddam Hussein only encouraged his later invasion of neighboring Kuwait during a 1990 oil dispute and triggered the first Gulf War in 1991.

Since the Reagan Administration, the CIA needed some better intelligence on the large Iranian military and a relationship with the terrorist MEK(Mujahedin E Khalq) began to slowly develop. With the rise to power of hardline Islamic radical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power and Iran flexing it's military muscles with a large scale miltary hardware buildup including research extending the range of North Korean style No Dong missiles to be able to launch a satelite into orbit or to build long range missiles capable of destroying American cities with future nuclear warheads, the new crash Iranian nuclear research prgram has only alarmed the American intelligence community.

After all the U.N. Security Council members including China and Russia supported possible sanctions on Iran to prevent nuclear development by Iran or possible future nuclear proliferation throughout the MidEast, Iran has consistently taken a hardline including a blunt refusal to allow international community nuclear inspectors into Iran. Just last week there are new signs of Iran beginning a new crash program to build 50,000 nuclear fuel enriching centrifuges which could build dozens of nuclear warheads a year in the near future.

In addition, Iran's oil supply is nowhere as plentiful as Iraq's. By 2015, Iran will have to stop exporting oil and is now eyeing using support for militia groups in Iraq such as that of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to gain some eventual control of the huge Iraqi oil reserves.

Iran's current plans in Iraq involve creating a Vietnam War type trap for the U.S., by providing both arms and payments to Shiite militia groups to drive up American deaths in Iraq and force the U.S. out. The problem is that Iran would likely not only make Iraq a near satellite state of Iran like it once attempted to do in trying to oust Saddam Hussein from power in 1980, but would wage a genocidal war against the Sunni population in Iraq, and then force Saudi Arabia to fight a high priced and high stakes civil war in Iraq. This would completely disrupt the entire MidEast oil supply and could put Iran in charge of both Iraq and Saudi Arabia if it wins such a war with their huge and superior 1,000,000 man army and reserve units. The situation could soon involve a war with Israel which could involve the use of Israeli nuclear weapons, or Iranian ones if iran develops them by then. This could invite WWIII and draw in many powers including the U.S., China and Russia as well.

I don't like Mr. Bush. However, the administration has little choice at this point but to pressure Iran to stay out of Iraq and stop their meddling. Iranian arms and payments to Shiite militias are driving up Sunni citizen deaths in Iraq as well as Iran hopes to spread their Shiite form of Islam throughout the MidEast.

There isn't the political will in the U.S. to fight a huge war with powerful Iran. Nor should there be. There are some signs in Iran that both the public and ruling council of clerics are worried about the path to conflict or even eventual war by President Ahmadinejad. However Iran cannot be allowed to meddle in Iraq and should stop their expanionist foreign policy based on both oil as well as expansion of their Shiite form of Islam.

U.S. military pressure on Iran is the best course right now. This doesn't mean imminent open war with Iran by any means. As long as political opposition continues to build within Iran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among the Iranian population and ruling clerics, there is a strong chance that the situation can peacefully resolve itself and a more moderate leader will be elected in Iran in the next Presidential election. The U.S. has to be careful not to further harden antiAmerican sentiments in Iran, and open war would be very counterproductive at this point to any future improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations.

This is likely only a very nervous period similiar to a new Cold War, with Iranian-U.S. relations. Political and military pressure on Iran is the wise path until there is some chance of Iran seeking peaceful relations with the U.S. and the world community satisfied that Iran's nuclear intentions are merely peaceful and not a pretext to a nuclear arms buildup.

I once worked for a U.S. president as a young fellow in the 1970's. There are many factors to consider if Americans want to offer a useful dialogue on complicated foreign matters with very high stakes such as the best policy towards Iran. The U.S. policy towards Iran has always been a complicated one, and indeed our current policy is shaped by this long running history.

You're buying into two of the most common delusions being bandied about today, Mr Hooson. There aren't any "moderates" in the Iraqi government standing aloof from ethnic cleansing and civil war; its the state and its affiliated militias that are driving it. The fantasy that "foreign influence" is somehow to blame for our failing occupation is just grasping at straws. In fact, since we've put our troops in the postion of being tools of the Shi'ite government, we're now in essence fighting for Iran's interests in Iraq. And unless we wish to add to our enemies list perhaps half the Iraqi population, that's the way its going to stay.

"However Iran cannot be allowed to meddle in Iraq and should stop their expanionist foreign policy based on both oil as well as expansion of their Shiite form of Islam."

Are you contending that the Shia in Iraq are there as a result of actions by Iran? What is an expansionist foreign policy based on oil?

Iraq invaded Iran and started a war that killed over a million Iranians. Iran does indeed have a right to meddle in Iraq. What that meddling may involve specifically though, is a different matter.

Negotiating with Ahmadinejad would be a complete waste of time.

I love the wingnut assertions that negotiation with X is a waste of time. Fact is, the US is negotiating with Ahmadinejad even as we speak, but thanks to idiots like phantom the negotiations are taking place via the media, with all sorts of conflicting signals thrown back and forth. A lot could be accomplished simply by sitting down in a closed door meeting and talking. Perhaps nothing would come of it, but perhaps the discussion could lead to some mutually desirable outcome. Even if nothing comes of it, that in itself is useful information which could be used to further US goals.

Max (the Miraculous) nails this one. We've been down this road before.

Highlight:

"The target is personalized for purposes of a vilification campaign that stupid people can rally around. In this case, it's the batty Iranian president, though in truth equally nutty statements come from the mouths of U.S. evangelical leaders routinely feted by our rulers. It's only a matter of time before his mug shot is blown up and put on the cover of TIME Magazine."

togolosh

If you want to be taken seriously, you might want to tone down the name calling.

Uncle

And I've seen a few lunatic statements from the Deanies and the Crooks and Liars set.

If a Pat Robertson says something lunatic --ie 9/11 caused by the bad sinners--that is one thing, which harms noone. If the President of a large country says that he wants to incinerate a small country on the shores of the Mediterranean, and is seem to be aggressively seeking the means do do just that, that's a little worse than anything that Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell ever said.

Robertson and Falwell cannot call on the Lord's judgement. Once Ahmadinejad has his hands on nuclear technology, he may soon be able to kill vast numbers of people.

Big difference.

--If Iran nukes Israel, Bush turns Iran into a parking lot while screaming "LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!!!"

And Iran knows it. --

Iranians know it, but Messianiac Zealots may see that as an acceptable step that brings the Hidden Iman out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth

One apocalypse at a time, please!

Cass, I don't personally subcribe to either of the foreign policy "delusions" you mentioned. I have nothing but misgivings about the Iraqi government. "Democracy" has been a complete failure there only allowing Shiite religious extremists and militia organization members to dominate the government. Under the appointed temporary government of Ayad Allawi, Iraq had far better and more moderate leadership than the election results which brought the largest Shiite parties into power along with their militia groups, creating more sectarian tensions. Only about 65 of the 270 elected Iraqi parliament members sometimes even bother to attend parliament sessions now. This government is simply awful. Putting Ayad Allawi back into power would be a good first step in Iraq, but I sure don't know how.

The U.S. hasn't failed in Iraq due to Iran. Iran is simply there to pick up the pieces because their oil supplies are rapidly disappearing and it won;t take much effort on their part to control both critical sides of the Strait Of Hormuz. The U.S. policy in Iraq has failed because the Bush policy was bad from the very beginning. When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill created the artificial "Iraq" occupation state after WWI, it combined three sectarian groups with nothing in common, and by 1958, the British were forced to leave as Nasserite style Arab Socialism was sweeping the region. The Baath party was the Iraqi version of the Egyptian Arab Socialist movement. Syria had it's own version as well.

In all truth, Cass, I frankly don't know how WWIII is going to be avoided in the MidEast. Bush has destablized the region so badly, and Iran wants to spread their version of Islam throughout the region, which Saudi Arabia certainly does not want. And if Iranian government radicals who oppose the right of tiny Israel(only 11 miles wide at it's most narrow point)to exist continue to develop a nuclear program, then Israel could pull the trigger that plunges the area into war.

Israel has a military strategy known as "The Samson Option". Samson as recall from the Old Testament could not defeat his adversaries so pulled down the entire house on himself and enemies as well. That's Israel's military plans for the MidEast, nuclear landmines and missiles and take down the entire region. No one survives.

Even worse other nations could be sucked in as well. Any pressures that the U.S. can use to keep Iran out of Iraq will buy some time for a possible coup by someone in Iraq to emerge that hopefully can pull the nation together and lessen secular tensions. But this is a slim hope as well. Nothing much has gone right in the this botched up Bush policy. Nothing much can be expected from it but a slow slide to a huge humanitarian crisis and a possible WWIII.

According to Bernard Lewis, whose expertise on the Muslim world is unsurpassed, whackjobs like Amadinejad will not be deterred by the US or Israels' nuclear arsenal.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1167467860507&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

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