Americans view Iran as the aggressor but imagine if you will...China conquering Canada and Mexico and sailing warships along our coast, tailing our ships etc... and then in the Chinese media the United States is denounced as dangerous and an aggressor, a threat to China. Asserting the United States was in a position of aggression would of course be laughable, and the United States would be taking drastic action I assure you. The Iranians are in just such a situation.
In 2002 George Bush identified Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil...coined by an Evangelical speech writer of course. Iraq fell shortly thereafter; North Korea went nuclear and even though they've been far more aggressive toward South Korea than Iran has toward any other country....and guess what? They're left alone.
Iran would be irrational not to pursue a nuclear deterrent. Why should they de-weaponize or end their nuclear programme? Of course it hasn’t been proven their nuclear programme will be converted to produce weapons but I’ll grant the probability. Look at what happened to Ghaddafi? He got rid of his weapons and tried to reenter the international community after 2003. He did all that he was supposed to do. But then the people rise up against him and he no longer has any threat or any deterrent against an invasion from outside…and NATO comes in, and he's done for.
American Hawks like Santorum do all they can to portray the Iranian regime as mad and suicidal. There are many propagandists like Joel Rosenberg and Joseph Farah at work in Christian circles trying to tie in Shiite apocalypticism with the goals of the Iranian regime. The Iranians want the bomb so they can attack Israel and they'll do this knowing that Tehran, Qom, Isfahan, Mashhad, and perhaps Tabriz will be eliminated? Actually no one knows what the response will be...would the United States really wipe them out? I'm sure Israel would if they were still able to retaliate. It's hard to say, I don't think anyone knows but an Iranian strike against Israel would be perhaps the greatest crisis since 1962 if not 1914.
But is this what Iran wants to do? That's part of the debate. There's a lot of psy-ops activity going on both sides. Part of the problem is there are really no diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran and this creates a very dangerous situation. I will at least give Obama credit that he has made attempts to remedy this situation and was rebuffed. Lack of communication is dangerous. American Conservatives refuse to even entertain establishing diplomatic ties, because doing so grants legitimacy and recognition. But not doing so runs a greater risk. One incident can cause a kind of chain reaction and put the two nations on a path to war. It's the Guns of August all over again.
There are some in America like Santorum who really want this. For some it's ideological. It can be tied in with American Imperial policy, doctrine concerning Israel, and it would certainly represent a complete domination of the Middle East by American interests. This was their hope as they pushed for an attack on Iran during the Bush years. He had lost too much political capital both at home and abroad and they were disappointed.
Now the situation has become so dynamic they may reach out to grab power and find it slipping away from them. It would also lead to Blowback undoubtedly on the scale of another 11 September and a sharp uptick in Islamic extremism. Of course I wouldn't be alone in suggesting the Hawks on the Right would eagerly embrace such a scenario. Fear and instability allow them to act with impunity.
The Iranian regime would appreciate a small scale war and a permanent state of low-grade threat, because the resulting precarious security situation allows them to maintain power. Security leads to leisure and leisure leads to discontent and the threat of instability. Low-scale external threat real or not helps to empower a regime...that’s no less true for Empires. In fact an external threat is viewed by many political strategists as an absolute necessity.
Americans in general and certainly the American public seems to be quite naive and simple when it comes to the language of geopolitics. Few Americans realize placing a sanctions regime on another country is an act of war. Ron Paul again is the lone voice in national politics arguing this point. America is diplomatically masterful and has an impressive historical record of forcing adversaries to fire the first shot. This allows the White House to establish the narrative in terms of the moral high ground. They might even find a few lemmings to tell them they've met the criteria for Just War Theory to be applied. American policy toward Iran is very reminiscent of what Roosevelt was doing with the Japanese prior to 1941.
By cutting off oil exports, the regime's economy is placed in jeopardy. Destabilizing the shipping on the Straits of Hormuz, even as silly as the prospect of an Iranian blockade is...nevertheless forces oil prices up, and if the Iranians are selling less of it...the consequent result is an increase in their profits. It makes economic sense to agitate the situation and raise the price of oil. It decreases the effectiveness of the sanctions. And, the elevated security threat once again strengthens the regime. But in the Western Media it’s portrayed as raw aggression and indicative of the fanatical nature of the regime. Actually it’s far from fanatical or aggressive…in light of what’s happening it makes sense. And remember they’re the ones in the vice, not the other way around.
Some debate over whether or not the American State Department understands this...that sanctions strengthen the regime they're being imposed on. It allows them to consolidate power and the people are really the only ones who suffer. The people don't rise up; instead they are forced to depend on the regime doling out the strained and restricted resources. The siege (for that's what it is) is supposed to break the people inside, so they'll rise up and overthrow the regime, but it has rarely worked. And the price can be terrible. An estimated 1.5 million people died in Iraq from 1991-2003 as a result of American policy. The Americans admitted it and did not shy away from the claims that 500,000 children had died. Madeleine Albright famously said, 'it was worth it.' And that's not even touching on some of the long term environmental issues the Americans have unleashed through their methods of warfare.
But once again, the sanctions didn't work. Saddam was not even close to losing his grip on power. It never worked with Cuba either. Even with their failed economic system and heavy-fisted government, they've kept on. Castro must laugh. He's outlived his enemies. He probably wishes he could live another forty years and watch the United States disintegrate. The Republican candidates have made it pretty clear, they'd like to deliver him a parting shot. He's humiliated the United States throughout much of the Cold War and power elites don't forgive or forget.
Some might point to South Africa as a success story for sanctions, but their internal situation was already unsustainable. They were looking at Civil War if action wasn't taken. Apartheid had to end sanctions or no. The demographic realities were simply against the regime. The White leadership would not be able to go on like that indefinitely. Sheer numbers would mean their eventual loss of power.
Whatever happens in the near future, Cuba and Iraq are a powerful testimony to the failure of sanctions.
Some believe the American diplomatic corps knows this well and they use the sanctions to actually keep the regime in place allowing the State Department and Pentagon to pursue a specific foreign policy and strategic agenda. Many believe this is why the United States stopped the drive to Baghdad in 1991. Retaining Saddam Hussein was a justification for an American military presence in the Gulf region and drove a strategic wedge into southwest Asia, something they were quite keen to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Why are China and Russia helping Iran? Well because they're Gog and Magog right? I wish Reformed and other Christians would realize Dispensational theology is nothing to wink at. It wields considerable political power in the United States and like it or not...affects policy. Don't forget this is 2012, an election year and Obama's actions concerning Iran will be pounced on by the Christian Right. These doctrines concerning Israel though often misunderstood even by those who hold them, play a part. I've known more than a few people attending mainline theologically liberal churches with women pastors and all the rest who have read the Tim LaHaye books and in some confused sense are attuned to what they now think the Bible teaches about these geopolitical issues. It's affecting how they vote and what political organizations they contribute to.
Russia was kicked and essentially ravaged by American interests throughout the 1990's. The United States didn't win the Cold War and pat them on the back and say...'good match, better luck next time.'
In every way possible the United States took advantage of Russia while it was down. I won't go into all that here. I've touched on it elsewhere. Putin brought stability to the Mafia-capitalistic society which had taken over. However he's played the traditional Russian strong-man role. It was appreciated in the early 2000's, but he's now suffering the results of a miscalculation. He brought security and stability to the streets and in part to the economy. This leads to leisure and leisure leads to discontent. He perhaps unwittingly has created the conditions which are now leading people to start questioning his power model which is largely based on cronyism and thus very corrupt. He's paranoid of dissent and external machinations...and has every reason to be...and rules with a pretty hard fist, even when using proxies. People now have the security to resent it and are starting to manifest this and give voice to their displeasure. This displeasure stems from the fact that they believe he’s holding them back to keep his grip on power. Nevertheless he's still quite popular even though a growing number of people are unhappy with him. Our media will focus on the growing instability and dissent rather than the majority of Russians who continue to support him. Hilary Clinton’s remarks concerning the validity of the recent elections was yet another display of outrageous hubris and the type of meddling we would heavily resent if focused on our own country.
The Obama administration tried to undo some of the tensions that developed over the Bush years but didn't follow through and continues to take a pretty aggressive posture. Russia wants the United States out of its backyard and of its business. This gives it a mutual interest with the Iranians. Russia wants the EU to back off which it now has to do unilaterally due to internal problems and Putin is undoubtedly very hostile to NATO expansion. It's not just a military treaty. It affects much larger spheres. The Russians feel like they got burned and manipulated with regard to the UN approved NATO mission in Libya and they're not going to allow this to happen with Syria. The Syrian question also plays into the Iran situation. And I'm sure from a more mercenary standpoint, Russia would rather see NATO entangled in the Middle East then poking around the Caucasus or Central Asia.
China needs resources to feed its economic juggernaut. China is also trying to expand into Central Asia...the key to power on so many fronts. Forces within the United States are increasingly taking a hostile tact against China. We've got presidential candidates using pretty harsh language and the Obama administration is basically setting forth a doctrinal shift and re-tooling of American military policy...shifting it to the Asia Pacific region. Obama has proved an utter failure to the anti-Imperial wing on the Left which helped him get elected. I must say he's only getting worse as time goes by, only a step below George W. Bush. He's compromised on almost every issue and on more than one he's actually advocated positions in support of the American Establishment and the Imperial project. No 'change' in the least. The Right has always been against him…the question is has he so alienated his own base that it will harm him in November 2012? The swing voters might vote for him simply to oppose candidates like Gingrich and Santorum. A Romney-Obama race I’m sure is not looked on with favour from the Oval Office. How would Romney deal with Iran? It’s hard to say. His rhetoric is not hopeful but he seems to be a more a moderate and reasonable man than others in the Conservative Wing.