Monday, July 9, 2012


Washington has deployed even more military forces against Iran and 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—is a starving fox poking around a grizzly’s catch. 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 grizzly pretending that the fox is threatening its existence by trying to steal scraps.

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 America under Democrats is proving hard to distinguish from Imperial America under neo-cons: be sure you have a new war ready (Iran for both Obama and Bush) before you end the old war you are currently fighting (Afghanistan for Obama; Iraq for 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 Obama’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!”

The Washington Post betrayed the lack of sincerity in Washington’s position, advocating that  “Like any good pugilist, Washington should follow the heavy blow of oil sanctions with further unrelenting pressure.” The author insults the intelligence of his readers by his childish comparison of a boxing match to U.S.-Iranian relations. Perhaps the analogy is indeed apt in describing the bias of Washington decision-makers, however, for they do indeed appear to sum up the relationship in their minds as a battle to the death. For their own self-respect, as long as they refuse to offer Iran an honorable way out (security, participation in world affairs as an equal, and independence), they must insist that the relationship is a zero-sum battle until one side scores a knock-out. 
Iran, meanwhile, is trapped: Washington will not offer a deal because, egged on by a sneering Netanyahu, Washington does not want a “deal;” Washington wants 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 recently concluded in Istanbul were technical-level talks; following them with renewed military threats makes little sense if Washington genuinely wants a solution. The purpose of technical-level talks is to pave the way for a political solution, not achieve it; that is the job of senior policy-makers.

Washington’s behavior suggests a more ominous interpretation: Iran must confirm without qualification that Israel is and will forever remain Master of the Mideast Universe. Recognition of Israel’s right to a regional nuclear monopoly backed up by its already overwhelming conventional military superiority resulting from the open arms pipeline from the U.S. and in the context of 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 Israel shall be permitted independence.

But independence, for Iran, is the whole ball game. Iran has been struggling mightily for a century to reemerge from its recent obscurity and define for itself in its own terms a path forward. Nukes are not Tehran’s goal; its goal is international respect as a player whose voice needs to be listened to. Tehran plays its nuclear card because that is the only way to get Washington’s attention. If Iran ends up building the bomb, Tel Aviv and Washington will be to blame for teaching it the lesson that the big boys sneer at everyone who lacks the bomb. Iran’s 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, Israel continues to swallow those pieces of Palestine it did not digest in 1949 and has now defined Iran as its main enemy. How can Tehran ensure Iranian national security except by playing the nuclear card? Washington is not offering a rational deal--a trade of terminating its economic war against Iran in 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.

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