Volatility

September 30, 2009

The Iranian Bomb

Filed under: Global War On Terror, Globalization — Tags: , , , — Russ @ 8:59 am
Here’s a rundown on the situation with Iran.
 
1. In spite of some inflammatory rhetoric on both sides, it’s extremely unlikely that any Iranian regime would launch a bolt out of the blue strike against Israel if they had the bomb. But the neocons at least claim to believe this, which gives them their alleged rationale for beating the war drums.
 
A neocon always wants war, somewhere, everywhere. It’s the essence of the Global War on Terror. Any pretext will do, and any conceivable threat, however absurd in practice, will be represented as a plausible clear and present danger to the American homeland. Thus we have had the spectacle of the Eastern European missiles (really meant to help reestablish Cold War conditions vis Russia) represented as a critical defense against the existential threat nonexistent Iranian ICBMs pose to our cities.
 
2. Iran believes it has the right to develop a bomb; that it’s absurd on its face that America and Israel have the right to the bomb but not them.
 
Indeed, Israel is not an adherent of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its own original grounds for refusal were precisely that the Treaty has no ethical basis for dividing the world into the pre-1967 nuclear powers (who got to keep their nukes) and everybody else, for whom they would be forbidden. This was purely an arbitrary, might-makes-right division.
 
So by Israel’s own logic, there’s no basis to forbid Iran the bomb. Iran adhered to the NPT only under duress; clearly where the weak agree under the pressure of the bullying of the strong, this agreement is not binding the way it is for what strong impose on themselves.
 
(American allies India and Pakistan are also non-adherents who have gone on to develop their own bombs.)
 
Also, one of the “three pillars” of the NPT, along with non-proliferation and “peaceful use”, is nuclear disarmament. In theory signatories are supposed to seek a weapon-free world.
 
Of course, American and Britain never intended any such thing; for them that provision was just nukewashing. And by now non-signatory Israel fully supports the arbitrary morality of the NPT division which it originally rejected, now that its own rogue nukes have been normalized within the neocon order.
 
That disposes of the moral right and wrong
 
3. Are the Iranians absolutely committed to developing a bomb, or are they trying to use it as a bargaining chip? This is unknown, but see (8) below.
 
4. To the extent they really want the bomb, they want it as a deterrent. Clearly America is an erratically aggressive, bullying power which understands only strength. You can deal with bullies like neocon America only if your position is credibly backed up by the real threat of force. That’s the lesson of Munich, which North Korea took to heart. Not long ago there was a lot of threatening bluster spewed Pyongyang’s way. Since it’s come to be believed that the North now has the bomb, we don’t hear the Korean war drums as much anymore.
 
5. What’s America’s circumstance? By any reality-based measure, it’s not prepared to start another war. The military is already overstretched (even not counting another escalation in Afghanistan), and fantasies of a few “smart” strikes are not likely to get the job done. Of course our financial and physical resources are spent. As for the politics, the American people have definitively turned against the Iraq war, the polls now run against Afghan escalations and even the war itself. Nobody except the neocons and the corporations wants to launch another war.
 
6. In the event of an attack, Iran’s most likely retaliation would be to mine the Straits of Hormuz, through which much of the world’s oil exports pass. They have said they would do this, and it’s the only effective thing they could do anyway.
 
The results of the subsequent oil shock and price shock would be devastating to the “recovery”. The green shoots would wither and die without the constant watering of relatively cheap oil. 
 
To mine the Straits they would use a vast fleet of small boats. While America’s military flyswatter can swat fly after fly, we’re talking one huge swarm of flies. If these boats could launch their coordinated sowing, as they would be able if Israel struck unilaterally, it would be excruciating to sweep out the place afterward. 
 
So attack, if it’s to make any tactical sense, has to be coordinated ahead of time between America and Israel (or just launched by America by itself). The attacks would have to try to destroy the whole minelayer fleet preemptively, even though that’s hundreds of small boats all along the Iranian coast. Israel could never do it by itself. 
 
7. So a unilateral Israeli strike is no good. But, if Obama hesitates, could Israel engage in Strangelovian extortion? Could it insist that it will attack, unilaterally if need be and to hell with the consequences, thereby presenting Obama with the equivalent of General Ripper saying “you boys better send SAC in after them or you’ll get destroyed by the commie retaliation”? Could Israel’s equivalent be “you’d better go in with us or face the straits mining without preemption”?
 
So as we can see from 5-7, the military “option” is no good. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not crazy enough to do it anyway.)
 
8. Diplomacy? What’s the carrot, what’s the stick? The stick would supposedly be sanctions (Iran is most vulnerable in its gasoline imports). But the requisite Russian and Chinese consent are not likely. Since it’s also unlikely that the Americans would really try to sanction Chinese energy companies (important Chimerica players), it seems that just like with “financial regulation” and “health care reform”, so for Obama “sanctions” looks like yet another empty word.
 
The carrot probably doesn’t exist. Peaceful nuke technological assistance? (The third pillar.) But this would come at the price of bowing to American diktat. So from the Iranians’ point of view this wouldn’t be a carrot at all, but a lesser stick. So far as I’ve read, America has nothing they want; they want America out of their face.
 
9. So it looks like they’ll continue on their current path. They’ll delay talks, go through the motions, but not let American threats, which they perceive to be impotent bluster, to deter them from their goal.
 
If that’s the case, then America must resign itself to the Iranian bomb or take the crazy route of war, which probably won’t work anyway.
 
10. As for we Americans, to us this bomb is of course not a joke. Proliferation is a bad thing, and it’s too bad the corporatist faction in America chose the globalist path which both rendered proliferation more likely and guaranteed that the proliferators would see America as the predator they were seeking to deter.
 
We should see that the real enemy is domestic, and permanent war empowers him. The best way to start waging war against the real enemy is to prevent him from using hijacked American resources to wage imperial war abroad. That means ending the GWOT: shutting down existing theaters and preventing the opening of new ones.  
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