Category Archives: Middle East

Chris Hedges on the Madness

Chris Hedges has an article, A War of Self-Destruction, on the consequences of a war with Iran, and follows a line of thinking very like my own.  While it is clearly an insane proposition, the truth of the matter is that the people making these decisions profit in every way from these wars and they clearly believe their wealth will cushion them from the worst of its impacts—they just don’t fear the consequences of everything going tits up.  While they will surely regret their actions, they are right: their wealth will protect them.

Are they going to start this war?  It remains an abstraction for me.  Each time the lunies have another push at starting a war, they enable the adults to take away more of their toys, and more people stop paying much attention to them.  The more they cry wolf the more they seem to be ignored.

But still HR 362 remains in play and apparently keeps gaining sponsors.  This is of course the US political process doing its dance, but could it end in war?  The chances surely can’t be zero.  But what are they?

We live in interesting times.  Let us pray that they don’t get too interesting.

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Fisk on Syria and Iran

The Syrian and Iranian leaders, Bashar al-Assad, left, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran on 3rd August

The Syrian and Iranian leaders, Bashar al-Assad, left, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Tehran on 3rd August

Check out Fisk’s latest article describes the hilarious attempts by Sarkozy and others to detach Syria from Tehran.

Fisk concludes:

In other words, Syria kept its cool. When the US invaded Iraq, the world wondered if its tanks would turn left to Damascus or right to Tehran. In fact, they lie still in the Iraqi desert, where US generals still variously accuse Iran and Syria of encouraging the insurgency against them. If Washington wants to leave Iraq, it can call Damascus for help.

And the real cost? The US will have to restore full relations with Syria. It will have to continue talks with Iran. It will have to thank Iran for its “help” in Iraq – most of the Iraqi government, after all, was nurtured in the Islamic Republic during the Iran-Iraq war in which the US took Saddam’s side. It will have to accept Iran is not making a nuclear bomb. And it will have to prevent Israel staging a bombing spectacular on Iran which will destroy every hope of US mediation. It will also have to produce a just Middle East peace. McCain or Obama, please note.

And it Continues

Martin Rowsons take on Browns Iran abhorrence remarks

Sometimes a picture is really priceless.  The Iranians have repeatedly made clear that they have no intention of attacking Israel, that they anticipate Israel falling apart through its own internal contradictions.  there is not the slightest indication that the Iranians are preparing for any such military intervention or that they would ever be capable of it.  The real point of course is that it is a political attack, and the whole is part of the ‘cold war’ being fought between Iran and Israel, the USA and the industrial nations, a war that the Bush administration decided to fight, and the Israelis appear to be making sure that the Bush administration makes good its promises of taking out Iran after Iraq.

With such confusion and disingenuousness one can only presume that this is political manouevring to prepare for military should it come to that.  Should that come to pass the wealthy people that gave us this mess will not be the ones to pay the price: that will fall to the poor people.

I missed an article by Scott Ritter at TruthDig on the 14th on the consequences of such a war. Elsewhere Gershom Gorenberg picks apart Benny Morris’s Strangeglovian fantasies about Israel using its nuclear wepaons aresenal to settle up with Iran and Commander Huber surveys the inanity of the discorse on the Iraq war.

Jeff and Gershom on Obama

Two of my favourite bloggers—Commander Huber of The Pen and Sword and Gershom Gorenberg of South Jerusalem—have written similar and different articles on Obama’s foreign policy.  The commander analyses the ducking and diving in Obama’s Iran policy from the perspective of the Pentagon while Gorenberg takes the foggy bottom angle of his Israel policy.  They agree on the difficulties he faces (you have to work with the political context you have rather than the the one you would like) and that while some of his tactical manoeuvres may have caused some dismay, it is quite possible (so they argue) to pick out a coherent strategy.  Needless to say we will need more data, but that reading seems defensible to me, and is consistent with his record, such as it is.

I am most curious to know whether Gershom Gorenberg agrees with Comander Huber’s analysis.

What is going on?

Reflecting on my previous article on our seeming determination to smash our economies on the rocks of Iran I thoght of the the Taijitu or yin-yang motif, which I think may summarize the situation.  My understanding is the the motif is intended to symbolise the cyclical waxing and waning of the yin and yang qualities in a given situation.  Notice that when dark yin or light yang are at their maximum, the other is present in the middle, and of course the dominating one must then give way.

This seems to me to symbolise where the industrial powers are today.  Their military-industrial dominance has been derived on the mastery of coal and then oil.  Dominating the oil lies at the heart of the industrial nation’s involvement in the region from the beginning of the oil era at the opening of the 20th century.  It drew the British into the region with their 1914 invasion of Iraq, the carving up of the Arab world after beraking up the Ottoman empire, the overthrowing of Mosadegh and so on.

Of course oil supplies are probably maxing out and can no longer feed the colossal displacement activity that we normally call economic growth.  The underlying source of our power is set to decline.  It is the impotence and frustration that comes from this realistation that may be driving some of the irrational and destructive behaviour.

M.E. Nuclear Follies: Hersh, Ritter, … and the Failed States Index

Jamal Dajani’s latest Mosaic Intelligence Report looks at what has been going on in Afghanistan. The outlook for victory in the ‘good war’ looks incredibly bleak.

Gordon Prather has an article arguing that the Bush administration legacy will be “the deliberate destruction of the existing international nuclear-weapons proliferation-prevention regime,” and Scott Horton has interviewed him on the subject. Prather shows a touching incredulity that nothing the Bush administration does in this area seems to make much sense.

Iraq has gone from second to fifth in the Foreign Policy Failed States Index, illustrating perfectly the success of the ‘surge’. William Pfaff has a truthdig article, The Illusion of Saving Nations from Themselves, reminding us of how we got here:

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The Commander Disagrees

Commander Huber has another great essay, Keystone Kondi’s Kwazy Kwestions, on the batty Neoconservative foreign policy. Interestingly he takes a more pessimistic view of Condi’s susceptibility to Cheney maschinations.

The essay finishes:

The neo-communists won’t engage us in an arms race this time around. They’ll let us be the ones who pour national treasure down a sand dune on fantastic weapons that can’t win the kinds of wars we fight until we’re bankrupt. One commonly hears these days that we’re playing checkers and the Russians and Chinese are playing chess. A more ironically apt analogy is that they have graduated to duplicate bridge while we continue to play war.

Even more ironic is that we won the first Cold War because our economic model was superior, but in the second Cold War we’re likely to find that the neocoms have become better capitalists than we are.