Conflict With Iran

It seems only reasonable that anyone advocating a war of aggression against Iran, a country that is not attacking us, provide answers to the following basic questions:
1.) Would War Against Iran Help?
2.) Can Current U.S. Policy Toward Iran Succeed?
3.) Does Current U.S. Policy Make Theoretical Sense?
4.) Is Israel Really on Our Side?
5.) Is Iran Being Isolated?
6.) What Are the War Party’s Real Goals?
7.) Who Is to Blame?
These questions are briefly addressed below, and the answers are not what you have been hearing. For more information on the U.S. conflict with Iran, see the original articles from which these brief answers are derived and the Iran Tutorial.

1.Would War Against Iran Help?

Asking whether or not military victory is worth achieving strikes most people as totally counter-intuitive. How can being better off possibly be worse than not being better off? The devil is in the dynamics, and the causal dynamics underlying relations between an isolated victorious military power and a host of less powerful but larger, insecure, and angry neighbors challenge the ability of any decision-maker.

2.) Can Current U.S. Policy Toward Iran Succeed?

Skill, patience, consistency, logic, and understanding go a long way toward the design of an effective foreign policy. These attributes – perhaps obvious but frequently in short supply among foreign policy decision-makers – build a much firmer policy foundation than rude and emotional outbursts, erratic challenges, public bullying, contemptuous disdain, or efforts to isolate and demonize.
Never, ever say “please” if you can get away with spitting in someone’s face. That, in this highly civilized new century, has become the essence of American policy toward Iran. Many in Washingtonwill surely defend this approach as “the only language they understand.” Maybe so. One thing is for sure: it is the only language in which they have heard us speak.
Caliphate? Democracy? National Security Dictatorship? Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, & Somaliaall suggest that war solves nothing.
War seems to be steadily rising in popularity among decision makers as the conflict resolution method of choice. The long, dark decades of Cold War fear are receding into our subconscious, while our frustration with the current global contest between radical Islamic nationalists and hardline neocolonial elites grows. To many—with the exception of the “details be damned, full speed ahead” decision makers on each side in this mad, global, “all options on the table” contest–using military means to resolve ideological, social, economic, and moral dilemmas appears intuitively to be not only pointless but counterproductive. Yet those who counsel caution and consideration for others are on both sides pilloried as “traitors” or sneered at as “naïve.” At the same time, leaders repeatedly make—with impunity—outrageously inflammatory threats about the options they will put “on the table,” the international equivalent of falsely yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

3.) Does Current U.S. Policy Make Theoretical Sense?

As tempting as it may be to conceive of an opponent as “evil” and oneself as “good,” the truth is seldom so clear-cut: something happened, someone felt boxed in, someone misunderstood someone else’s intentions, one thing led to another. But humans can’t know everything and will always search for a neat mental model. Rather than “good vs. evil,” try “zero-sum vs. positive sum.” Instead of trying to distinguish “good” from “evil” as a route to understanding Mideastpolitics, try distinguishing those who view regional political affairs as a zero-sum game from those who view the world as a positive-sum game.

4.) Is Israel Really on Our Side?

Tel Aviv, in deep denial, is murdering civilian demonstrators in neighboring countries for approaching its borders, refusing to negotiate sincerely even with its West Bank clients, and searching for a way to continue its campaign of expansion and ethnic cleansing. Are the extremist leaders of Israel crazy enough to launch a regional war, using the specter of an eventual Iranian nuclear bomb as the excuse?
The recently retired chief of Mossad has just warned that they may be.
Netanyahu’s combined efforts to push the U.S. into a war on Iran as a smokescreen for his plan to absorb the West Bank and to manipulate the U.S. presidential election may open the door to an alliance of U.S. and Israeli national security officials who believe in security through peace and justice.

5.) Is Iran Being Isolated?

Among the various international challenges to Washington’s foreign policy goals, two loom large: the insistence of both Pakistan and Iran on following paths that place huge obstacles in Washington’s path. All sides can probably agree that the aggressively expansionist course desired by the Washington elite will, for better or worse, remain seriously impaired as long as these two independent-minded Islamic powers insist on doing what they want regardless of Washington’s desires.

6.) What Are the War Party’s Real Goals?

Once you have a factory that makes weapons, buy yourself an “institute” that churns out “academic” analyses of world affairs designed to wave the bloody shirt. Either you win by selling Washington arms that will sit and rust somewhere or Washington will actually use those weapons, in which case you win again by expanding your market and also by opening a sub-division to rebuild the country you just helped destroy.
The rising number of current and recently retired U.S. Israeli military/intelligence officials who have found the courage to speak out publicly against an unprovoked attack on Iran as a danger to the two countries’ national security are fighting against a tsunami of economic self-interest in war profiteering.

7.) Who Is to Blame?

Washington has placed more obstacles in the way of U.S.-Iranian rapprochement that hasTehran, judging from a simple list, though policy makers seem curiously oblivious to their own actions. The list suffices to illustrate that Washington bears some of the responsibility for the conflict, and recognition of even that simple fact on the part of U.S. decision makers would constitute progress, but a serious assessment of where blame lies requires moving past mere lists, and a straightforward weighting scheme is the next step. The approach might clarify far more than just U.S.-Iranian relations.
As in the U.S., power in Tehran is held by two generations of conservatives.
The Iranian revolution a generation ago was led by that society’s traditional conservatives – the clerical, landholding elite. During the near-decade-long war against Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s, a new generation grew up, a generation that attained political power in 2005 with Ahmadinejad’s election to the presidency. Both of these conservative generations–the land-owning clerics of the revolutionary generation and the younger super-patriotic war generation–see some real benefits to the tense atmosphere being created by American neo-cons and their right-wing Israeli fellow-travelers.
So why might Tehran, faced with unprecedented threats of nuclear attack from the world’s only remaining superpower and the Mideast’s regional superpower, see a silver lining in the thunderheads on its horizon?
1. Exploit War Fears to Consolidate Power.
2. The “End of Days.“
3. Protecting the Neighborhood.
4. The Ahmadinejad Administration Has Failed.
5. Becoming the new Nasser.
6. When You Have a Hammer….
In brief, the leaders of the Islamic Revolution…and in particular the leaders of the conservative factions…and more particularly the leaders of the neo-con war generation faction benefit in numerous ways from a tense relationship with the U.S.
The danger of an unjustified and inexcusable war with Iran is great because there are many reasons why Washington needs to bomb Iran.

Reason #1. Washington culture is a “blame culture.”
Reason #2. What right do the Iranians have exerting influence over a neighboring country or maintaining ties to their fellow Shi’a living next door, anyway?
Reason # 3. The Bush-Cheney administration has failed
Reason #4. Trapping the Democrats.
Reason #5. Absence of national will to face our real problems.
Reason #6. When you have a hammer…
And then there are the two main reasons we attacked Iraq in the first place…
Reason #7. Giving the Mideast to Israel.
Reason #8. How else can Big Oil gain control of global oil supplies?
The vision of American global empire laid out by the neo-cons in public statements–long before 9/11 provided a convenient opportunity to act–cannot be realized by stopping with Iraq, which even by Mideast standards is not a large country and was very much in decline by 2003 as a result of 12 years of U.S. attack. If one opens one’s eyes for a moment (admittedly uncomfortable in the dirty water of global affairs), one may catch a glimpse of sharks circling a defeated Iran: a reinvigorated Russian-Chinese strategic alliance or an Islamic and nuclear-armed Pakistan. But Iran is the snapping turtle biting the neo-con toe today… a potential regional power, and one that stands steadfastly in the road of the neo-con imperial vision.
1. 1953 – U.S. coup destroys Iranian democratic movement to protect Big Oil profits
2. 1950s-1978 – U.S. supports Shah’s dictatorship
3. 1979 – U.S. embassy personnel captured
4. 1980 – Saddam invades Iran in 8 year war, supported by U.S. 
5. 1983 – U.S. sends troops to Lebanon after Israeli invasion and supports Israel, provoking nationalist attacks on troops with Iranian support
6. mid-1980s – Iran-contra fiasco increases mutual distrust
7. 1987 – U.S. shoots down Iranian civilian airliner
8. 1993 – U.S. campaign to isolate Iran
9. 1996 – terrorist attack against Americans in Saudi Arabia blamed on Iran
10. 1997 – U.S. offers negotiations with preconditions and Iran refuses
11. 1998 – Iran suggests cultural exchanges
12. 2001 – Iran helps U.S. defeat Taliban
13. 2002 – Bush labels Iran part of “axis of evil”
14. 2003 – Iran offers to negotiate all bilateral issues and U.S. refuses

One comment on “Conflict With Iran

  1. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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