Three Stooges Diplomacy

Washington has deployed even more military forces against Iranand intensified its economic war against Iran, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard generals have launched a rhetorical broadside against Washington, and Israel has again threatened to commit aggression against Iran. 

Iran’s egregious insult of pointing out the obvious—that it can threaten the massive array of U.S. military bases that have come to surround it since the neo-con push for an Imperial America—sounds like the last gasp of a very insecure country under a very real threat. The ability of Iran to respond to attack by hitting the bases comes as no surprise and while its articulation of the threat may play well in Tehran, it is otherwise is likely only to empower the Israeli-American war party.
The egregious nature of Washington’s behavior—ratcheting up both military and economic pressure against a Tehran that is doing nothing new—is of a totally different order. Imperial Americaunder Democrats is proving hard to distinguish from Imperial America under neo-cons: be sure you have a new war ready (Iranfor both Obama and Bush) before you end the old war you are currently fighting (Afghanistanfor Obama; Iraqfor Bush). Keep tensions at a fever pitch. Distract voters from the mess at home.
One can only wonder at the idea of distracting voters. Does a man whose bank has cheated him out of his home really not care as long as he can cheer U.S./Israeli aggression against yet another Muslim society? Not only does such a strategy on Washington’s part make the assumption that the American voter is extremely ignorant, it plays right into the hands of the Republicans and the even more dangerous expansionist faction in Israel – the greater the tensions, the easier it is to argue that “nothing less than the immediate destruction of XXX can save the world!”
Iran, meanwhile, is trapped: Washingtonwill not offer a deal because, egged on by a sneering Netanyahu, Washington does not want a “deal;” Washingtonwants Iran to surrender. Perhaps the New York Times finds it appropriate to interpret rising U.S. military pressure as primarily designed to persuade Israel not to start a war, but the timing immediately following yet another round of talks in which Washington apparently chose again not to offer Iran a balanced, compromise deal suggests that the main message Iran should hear—and certainly the message it will hear—is a demand that it play by Washington rules. The talks concluded this week in Istanbulwere technical-level talks; following them with renewed military threats makes little sense if Washingtongenuinely wants a solution. Washington’s behavior suggests a more ominous interpretation: Iranmust confirm without qualification that Israelis and will forever remain Nuclear Master of the Mideast Universe. Recognition of Israel’s right to a regional nuclear monopoly backed up by its already overwhelming conventional military superiority and its blank check authorization to tell other countries what arms they are allowed to possess and to attack any who break its rules means that no country in the region but Israelshall be permitted independence.
But independence, for Iran, is the whole ball game. Iranhas been struggling mightily for a century to reemerge from its recent obscurity and define for itself in its own terms a path forward. Its immediate enemy, Saddam’s Iraq, has vanished only to be replaced by a new string of U.S.bases and an armada of U.S.ships that serve no purpose except to threaten it with nuclear annihilation. Meanwhile, Israelcontinues to swallow those pieces of Palestineit did not digest in 1949, and has now defined Iranas its main enemy. Washington is not offering a rational deal–a trade of terminating its economic war against Iranin return for nuclear transparency—because nuclear transparency is not Washington’s goal. Washington’s goal is formal Iranian acceptance of permanent Number 2 status in the region and that indeed constitutes, for Iran, a surrender.
U.S. voters may be somewhat distracted, but meanwhile the Three Stooges pie-throwing contest is generating dangerous momentum. How is Obama to extract himself after the election from a situation in which he has acted as though the world were in a crisis as the result of Iran’s insistence on being held to the same standards as everyone else? Will he have the guts to tangle directly with a Netanyahu facing humiliation? Will he have the creativity to defeat Netanyahu? If Obama continues to allow tensions with Iran to build and ends up giving Iran what it quite reasonably demands (to be allowed to play by the same nuclear rules as others) only to be forced to sacrifice U.S. national interests to please Netanyahu, then the end result (whatever happens to Iran) will constitute an historic humiliation of the U.S. Some may think Americans will deserve it, but a triumphant semi-fascist and militant Israel humiliating the U.S. will make the world a very unpleasant place for everyone.

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