Thursday, April 08, 2010

Stratfor: Thinking About the Unthinkable: A U.S.-Iranian Deal

By George Friedman
March 01, 2010

The United States apparently has reached the point where it must either accept that Iran will develop nuclear weapons at some point if it wishes, or take military action to prevent this. There is a third strategy, however: Washington can seek to redefine the Iranian question.

As we have no idea what leaders on either side are thinking, exploring this represents an exercise in geopolitical theory. Let’s begin with the two apparent stark choices.

Diplomacy vs. the Military Option

The diplomatic approach consists of creating a broad coalition prepared to impose what have been called crippling sanctions on Iran. Effective sanctions must be so painful that they compel the target to change its behavior. In Tehran’s case, this could only consist of blocking Iran’s imports of gasoline. Iran imports 35 percent of the gasoline it consumes. It is not clear that a gasoline embargo would be crippling, but it is the only embargo that might work. All other forms of sanctions against Iran would be mere gestures designed to give the impression that something is being done.

The Chinese will not participate in any gasoline embargo. Beijing gets 11 percent of its oil from Iran, and it has made it clear it will continue to deliver gasoline to Iran. Moscow’s position is that Russia might consider sanctions down the road, but it hasn’t specified when, and it hasn’t specified what. The Russians are more than content seeing the U.S. bogged down in the Middle East and so are not inclined to solve American problems in the region. With the Chinese and Russians unlikely to embargo gasoline, these sanctions won’t create significant pain for Iran. Since all other sanctions are gestures, the diplomatic approach is therefore unlikely to work.

The military option has its own risks. First, its success depends on the quality of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities and on the degree of hardening of those targets. Second, it requires successful air attacks. Third, it requires battle damage assessments that tell the attacker whether the strike succeeded. Fourth, it requires follow-on raids to destroy facilities that remain functional. And fifth, attacks must do more than simply set back Iran’s program a few months or even years: If the risk of a nuclear Iran is great enough to justify the risks of war, the outcome must be decisive.

Each point in this process is a potential failure point. Given the multiplicity of these points — which includes others not mentioned — failure may not be an option, but it is certainly possible.

But even if the attacks succeed, the question of what would happen the day after the attacks remains. Iran has its own counters. It has a superbly effective terrorist organization, Hezbollah, at its disposal. It has sufficient influence in Iraq to destabilize that country and force the United States to keep forces in Iraq badly needed elsewhere. And it has the ability to use mines and missiles to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf shipping lanes for some period — driving global oil prices through the roof while the global economy is struggling to stabilize itself. Iran’s position on its nuclear program is rooted in the awareness that while it might not have assured options in the event of a military strike, it has counters that create complex and unacceptable risks. Iran therefore does not believe the United States will strike or permit Israel to strike, as the consequences would be unacceptable.

To recap, the United States either can accept a nuclear Iran or risk an attack that might fail outright, impose only a minor delay on Iran’s nuclear program or trigger extremely painful responses even if it succeeds. When neither choice is acceptable, it is necessary to find a third choice.

Redefining the Iranian Problem

As long as the problem of Iran is defined in terms of its nuclear program, the United States is in an impossible place. Therefore, the Iranian problem must be redefined. One attempt at redefinition involves hope for an uprising against the current regime. We will not repeat our views on this in depth, but in short, we do not regard these demonstrations to be a serious threat to the regime. Tehran has handily crushed them, and even if they did succeed, we do not believe they would produce a regime any more accommodating toward the United States. The idea of waiting for a revolution is more useful as a justification for inaction — and accepting a nuclear Iran — than it is as a strategic alternative.

At this moment, Iran is the most powerful regional military force in the Persian Gulf. Unless the United States permanently stations substantial military forces in the region, there is no military force able to block Iran. Turkey is more powerful than Iran, but it is far from the Persian Gulf and focused on other matters at the moment, and it doesn’t want to take on Iran militarily — at least not for a very long time. At the very least, this means the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq. Baghdad is too weak to block Iran from the Arabian Peninsula, and the Iraqi government has elements friendly toward Iran.

Historically, regional stability depended on the Iraqi-Iranian balance of power. When it tottered in 1990, the result was the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The United States did not push into Iraq in 1991 because it did not want to upset the regional balance of power by creating a vacuum in Iraq. Rather, U.S. strategy was to re-establish the Iranian-Iraqi balance of power to the greatest extent possible, as the alternative was basing large numbers of U.S. troops in the region.

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 assumed that once the Baathist regime was destroyed the United States would rapidly create a strong Iraqi government that would balance Iran. The core mistake in this thinking lay in failing to recognize that the new Iraqi government would be filled with Shiites, many of whom regarded Iran as a friendly power. Rather than balancing Iran, Iraq could well become an Iranian satellite. The Iranians strongly encouraged the American invasion precisely because they wanted to create a situation where Iraq moved toward Iran’s orbit. When this in fact began happening, the Americans had no choice but an extended occupation of Iraq, a trap both the Bush and Obama administrations have sought to escape.

It is difficult to define Iran’s influence in Iraq at this point. But at a minimum, while Iran may not be able to impose a pro-Iranian state on Iraq, it has sufficient influence to block the creation of any strong Iraqi government either through direct influence in the government or by creating destabilizing violence in Iraq. In other words, Iran can prevent Iraq from emerging as a counterweight to Iran, and Iran has every reason to do this. Indeed, it is doing just this.

The Fundamental U.S.-Iranian Issue

Iraq, not nuclear weapons, is the fundamental issue between Iran and the United States. Iran wants to see a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq so Iran can assume its place as the dominant military power in the Persian Gulf. The United States wants to withdraw from Iraq because it faces challenges in Afghanistan — where it will also need Iranian cooperation — and elsewhere. Committing forces to Iraq for an extended period of time while fighting in Afghanistan leaves the United States exposed globally. Events involving China or Russia — such as the 2008 war in Georgia — would see the United States without a counter. The alternative would be a withdrawal from Afghanistan or a massive increase in U.S. armed forces. The former is not going to happen any time soon, and the latter is an economic impossibility.

Therefore, the United States must find a way to counterbalance Iran without an open-ended deployment in Iraq and without expecting the re-emergence of Iraqi power, because Iran is not going to allow the latter to happen. The nuclear issue is simply an element of this broader geopolitical problem, as it adds another element to the Iranian tool kit. It is not a stand-alone issue.

The United States has an interesting strategy in redefining problems that involves creating extraordinarily alliances with mortal ideological and geopolitical enemies to achieve strategic U.S. goals. First consider Franklin Roosevelt’s alliance with Stalinist Russia to block Nazi Germany. He pursued this alliance despite massive political outrage not only from isolationists but also from institutions like the Roman Catholic Church that regarded the Soviets as the epitome of evil.

Now consider Richard Nixon’s decision to align with China at a time when the Chinese were supplying weapons to North Vietnam that were killing American troops. Moreover, Mao — who had said he did not fear nuclear war as China could absorb a few hundred million deaths — was considered, with reason, quite mad. Nevertheless, Nixon, as anti-Communist and anti-Chinese a figure as existed in American politics, understood that an alliance (and despite the lack of a formal treaty, alliance it was) with China was essential to counterbalance the Soviet Union at a time when American power was still being sapped in Vietnam.

Roosevelt and Nixon both faced impossible strategic situations unless they were prepared to redefine the strategic equation dramatically and accept the need for alliance with countries that had previously been regarded as strategic and moral threats. American history is filled with opportunistic alliances designed to solve impossible strategic dilemmas. The Stalin and Mao cases represent stunning alliances with prior enemies designed to block a third power seen as more dangerous.

It is said that Ahmadinejad is crazy. It was also said that Mao and Stalin were crazy, in both cases with much justification. Ahmadinejad has said many strange things and issued numerous threats. But when Roosevelt ignored what Stalin said and Nixon ignored what Mao said, they each discovered that Stalin’s and Mao’s actions were far more rational and predictable than their rhetoric. Similarly, what the Iranians say and what they do are quite different.

U.S. vs. Iranian Interests

Consider the American interest. First, it must maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. The United States cannot tolerate interruptions, and that limits the risks it can take. Second, it must try to keep any one power from controlling all of the oil in the Persian Gulf, as that would give such a country too much long-term power within the global system. Third, while the United States is involved in a war with elements of the Sunni Muslim world, it must reduce the forces devoted to that war. Fourth, it must deal with the Iranian problem directly. Europe will go as far as sanctions but no further, while the Russians and Chinese won’t even go that far yet. Fifth, it must prevent an Israeli strike on Iran for the same reasons it must avoid a strike itself, as the day after any Israeli strike will be left to the United States to manage.

Now consider the Iranian interest. First, it must guarantee regime survival. It sees the United States as dangerous and unpredictable. In less than 10 years, it has found itself with American troops on both its eastern and western borders. Second, it must guarantee that Iraq will never again be a threat to Iran. Third, it must increase its authority within the Muslim world against Sunni Muslims, whom it regards as rivals and sometimes as threats.

Now consider the overlaps. The United States is in a war against some (not all) Sunnis. These are Iran’s enemies, too. Iran does not want U.S. troops along its eastern and western borders. In point of fact, the United States does not want this either. The United States does not want any interruption of oil flow through Hormuz. Iran much prefers profiting from those flows to interrupting them. Finally, the Iranians understand that it is the United States alone that is Iran’s existential threat. If Iran can solve the American problem its regime survival is assured. The United States understands, or should, that resurrecting the Iraqi counterweight to Iran is not an option: It is either U.S. forces in Iraq or accepting Iran’s unconstrained role.

Therefore, as an exercise in geopolitical theory, consider the following. Washington’s current options are unacceptable. By redefining the issue in terms of dealing with the consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there are three areas of mutual interest. First, both powers have serious quarrels with Sunni Islam. Second, both powers want to see a reduction in U.S. forces in the region. Third, both countries have an interest in assuring the flow of oil, one to use the oil, the other to profit from it to increase its regional power.

The strategic problem is, of course, Iranian power in the Persian Gulf. The Chinese model is worth considering here. China issued bellicose rhetoric before and after Nixon’s and Kissinger’s visits. But whatever it did internally, it was not a major risk-taker in its foreign policy. China’s relationship with the United States was of critical importance to China. Beijing fully understood the value of this relationship, and while it might continue to rail about imperialism, it was exceedingly careful not to undermine this core interest.

The major risk of the third strategy is that Iran will overstep its bounds and seek to occupy the oil-producing countries of the Persian Gulf. Certainly, this would be tempting, but it would bring a rapid American intervention. The United States would not block indirect Iranian influence, however, from financial participation in regional projects to more significant roles for the Shia in Arabian states. Washington’s limits for Iranian power are readily defined and enforced when exceeded.

The great losers in the third strategy, of course, would be the Sunnis in the Arabian Peninsula. But Iraq aside, they are incapable of defending themselves, and the United States has no long-term interest in their economic and political relations. So long as the oil flows, and no single power directly controls the entire region, the United States does not have a stake in this issue.

Israel would also be enraged. It sees ongoing American-Iranian hostility as a given. And it wants the United States to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat. But eliminating this threat is not an option given the risks, so the choice is a nuclear Iran outside some structured relationship with the United States or within it. The choice that Israel might want, a U.S.-Iranian conflict, is unlikely. Israel can no more drive American strategy than can Saudi Arabia.

From the American standpoint, an understanding with Iran would have the advantage of solving an increasingly knotty problem. In the long run, it would also have the advantage of being a self-containing relationship. Turkey is much more powerful than Iran and is emerging from its century-long shell. Its relations with the United States are delicate. The United States would infuriate the Turks by doing this deal, forcing them to become more active faster. They would thus emerge in Iraq as a counterbalance to Iran. But Turkey’s anger at the United States would serve U.S. interests. The Iranian position in Iraq would be temporary, and the United States would not have to break its word as Turkey eventually would eliminate Iranian influence in Iraq.

Ultimately, the greatest shock of such a maneuver on both sides would be political. The U.S.-Soviet agreement shocked Americans deeply, the Soviets less so because Stalin’s pact with Hitler had already stunned them. The Nixon-Mao entente shocked all sides. It was utterly unthinkable at the time, but once people on both sides thought about it, it was manageable.

Such a maneuver would be particularly difficult for U.S. President Barack Obama, as it would be widely interpreted as another example of weakness rather than as a ruthless and cunning move. A military strike would enhance his political standing, while an apparently cynical deal would undermine it. Ahmadinejad could sell such a deal domestically much more easily. In any event, the choices now are a nuclear Iran, extended airstrikes with all their attendant consequences, or something else. This is what something else might look like and how it would fit in with American strategic tradition.

RENEGADE EYE

21 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

This is a rational and logical analysis of the situation. Well before the last election, I always assumed that if Hillary Clinton were elected, at the time seemingly a probability, I always said she would be to Iran what Nixon was to China. Maybe Obama will follow that path. It's hard to say. One thing is for sure, it would be a disaster to enter into a war with Iran now, and sanctions would be close to meaningless. Under the best of circumstances, sanctions hardly ever hurt the regime that is their target. By their natures, they tend to absorb the hit, while the common person suffers.

Given that either war or sanctions are likely to be ineffective, and seeing as how the situation can't remain frozen in place forever, what the author suggests seems like the most likely scenario. I just question whether the Obama Administration is capable of handling such a policy.

One major sticking point is going to be Iran's ties to Hezbollah, and possibly Hamas. However, we have a very good reason to seek normalized relations with Iran-access to their oil. That would also be a reason why Russia and China would prefer we not get too cozy with Iran.

Renegade Eye said...

Pagan: When Hezbollah was formed, it was subsidized by Iran. It is now wealthy, with its own network. Shiite imans are not poor.

Hamas's aid from Iran is questionable. How do they physically get arms to Hamas, without going through Egypt?

I think Obama would gladly help Ahmadinejad, put down the protesters.

Overall I agree.

What threw me for a loop, is the implication the Iraqi Congress types, represented Iran.

The Sentinel said...

A very interesting article but I think when you understand the ‘game’ and how it works you understand that these decisions are made well in advance by people that don’t seem to include the president for reasons that are never fully apparent and I strongly believe that Iran’s fate is thus determined.

I have seen with my own eyes several times these machinations in operation as a serviceman, the most notable for me was Bosnia; the popular perception of the war was that it was a spontaneous and inexplicably ‘racist’ popular Serb attack on defenceless Muslims whereas the reality was that it was a slow brewing complex problem with lots of newer factors besides the old cultural, religious and ethnic divide, Albanian crime being one of the major ones. To be sure there were atrocities, there always are in wars but the balance was tipped towards the Muslims but this was never or rarely reported. The whole world was united against the Serbs by media reports that were completely biased and even untrue.

If you can stomach it, here is some photographic proof of Muslims atrocities against Serbs in the region of Srebrenica that went unreported whilst the disgusting retaliation by Serbs was covered in detail.

http://www.serbianna.com/features/srebrenica/011.shtml

The conflict itself would probably never have escalated beyond local exchanges of gunfire were it not for the ‘peacekeeping’ mission of the US who promptly began arming and flying in mujahideens, mostly from collection points in Iran, who then took the conflict to a new level in fanaticism and barbarity.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/22/warcrimes.comment

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6547287.stm

The US also financed and armed the Bih which were largely comprised of regional gangsters and ‘warlords’ and the KLA, which was little more then a front for the Albanian mafia all whilst bombing Serb positions and cities.

http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/fr033199.htm

The Sentinel said...

For whatever reason, the US had long decided to back the Muslims in the region irregardless of the truth (the sheer logistics of what occurred needed long planning and contacts) and so that is exactly what happened and that was the version presented to the world as truth in sinister unity by most of the worlds media.

The same happened in Kosovo as I successfully predicted, not by esoteric means by knowing the ‘game.’

http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/kosovo0704/7.htm#_Toc77665984

Since then more realistic details have started to trickle out about the war and the US conduct during it such as their support for the Bih / KLA gangsters, narcotics purveyors, human slave traders, international terrorists, money launderers, hit men and even Serb ‘POW’ organ harvesters.

http://www.serbianna.com/columns/michaletos/020.shtml

http://de-construct.net/?p=7264

Why did the US do what they did and back who they did?

Lord knows. Certainly no one I spoke to of any rank had any real clue as to what the hell they were doing. There were credible rumours that Clinton’s re-election campaign had received millions from his KLA friends but that just doesn’t seem to be a sustainable enough reason for all that were involved to actually be involved.

The Sentinel said...

I went into detail on the realities of Bosnia because I am personally acquainted with them and to illustrate just what really goes on behind the scenes when these decisions are made for reasons not fully known.

I don’t think I need to go into Iraq at all, that litany of lies and betrayals are well known now, after the fact.

And so to Iran. It has been a focus of long term demonization, threats and build up of the Bosnia / Kosovo / Iraq kind.

Everything from blaming Iran for IED’s in Iraq to the false reporting of Ahmadinejad saying that he would ‘wipe Isreal off the map.’

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-first-the-us-deluded-itself-about-the-war-then-about-the-source-of-the-weapons-436833.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel#.22Wiped_off_the_map.22_or_.22Vanish_from_the_pages_of_time.22_translation

Here is the ludicrous unified media’s laughable emotional response to that lie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX7rH4egQBU&feature=player_embedded


Exhibiting the same unity in dishonesty as they largely did with the conflicts mentioned above and all the while the build up to attack Iran continues unabated behind the scenes whilst, just as with the conflicts above, the politicians tell us only about ‘diplomacy.'

“Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the US government signed a contract in January to transport 10 ammunition containers to the island. According to a cargo manifest from the US navy, this included 387 “Blu” bombs used for blasting hardened or underground structures.

Experts say that they are being put in place for an assault on Iran’s controversial nuclear facilities. There has long been speculation that the US military is preparing for such an attack…”

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/world-news/final-destination-iran-1.1013151


Again, the exact reasons why Iran has been selected for special treatment are not fully known but a major factor that is fully known is the threat it poses to Israeli hegemony in the region and their determination to be rid of it. We also know that the leading lights in the US such as Obama and Clinton are heavily in debt to pro-Israeli donators

http://www.mail-archive.com/pen-l@sus.csuchico.edu/msg22077.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-ostertag/goldman-sachs-obama-money_b_177611.html

The Sentinel said...

Clinton especially is very pliable when lubricated with cash:

“I am so honored to be here and once again to speak on behalf of the causes and concerns that we share...on behalf of the shared interests and security and democracy that form the unbreakable bond between our two nations...

I thank you for supporting AIPAC. Because as active citizens you are serving an essential function: when you advocate, when you lobby, when you speak out on issues that matter to the Jewish community and to Israel...

Israel is confronting many of the toughest challenges in her history, in a neighborhood that is less secure than ever. At this moment of peril, what is vital is that we stand by our friend and our ally...

We need only look to one of Israel's greatest threats: namely Iran."

http://www.economist.com/user/Mark%2BS.%2BOller/comments


But then her husband was equally prone to such money motivated bombastic sentiments:

“The Israelis know that if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch, and fight and die,”

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/print.asp?page=2002\08\04\story_4-8-2002_pg1_6

How very, very strange he never made such a rousing offer to his own country (and indeed avoided the Vietnam draft), and how very, very odd he would make such a profound declaration to another.

The hold of Israel over Mrs Clinton is tangible, last year for instance, just 10 hours after the Israeli foreign minister declared:

“…Lieberman said Iran is not Israel's biggest strategic threat; rather, Afghanistan and Pakistan are…”

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1080097.html

Clinton announced:

“…ominously, that the situation in Pakistan "poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/clinton-says-pakistan-poses-mortal-threat-1672927.html

Co-incidence? Maybe but I think not given this other statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman:

“The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office.

"Believe me, America accepts all our decisions," Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets.”

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1080097.html

With powerful enemies such as these, and the build up approximating the conflicts above, Iran is doomed.

Renegade Eye said...

Sentinel: You're off on a tangent. You're speaking about everything, but the post.

The US is overextended in Iraq. It wants out, and needs the help of Iran and I would add Syria.

I think truth is material. The US can't at this point in history, deal with the ramifications of war with Iran.

The Sentinel said...

I don’t think it is off at a tangent at all Renegade Eye; all the usual platitudes of ‘engaging in diplomacy’ and ‘gathering the facts’ and ‘doing the right’ thing were issued over Bosnia and Kosovo (and Iraq come to that) and it was all a load of crap.

As they were making these claims they were already flying in mujahideens, arming the local militias as well as know terror and criminal gangs, running ‘black ops’ against Serbs and essentially escalating the situation to ensure it would explode.

That was the whole point. They lie all the time and they are essentially psychotic and that is very hard, pretty much impossible for people that haven’t seen in play to fathom. Once a decision has been made it will go ahead irregardless of what the public are fed.

And so it is with Iran; they have already made a concerted propaganda effort comprised of nothing but lies as demonstrated in my last comment and they are very much in the process of building up forces to engage the Iranians as we speak.

They want Iran, they will have Iran. When is the question, not if.

You say they are overstretched but here is another concept that people haven’t experienced it first hand can’t seem to fathom: They don’t care about the soldiers. They couldn’t give a flying fuck, more often then not they are privately contemptuous of them.

Iraq is a minor sideshow for the US now tying up few troops as is Afghanistan so it is physically possible to attack at any time, but as for the rest of the reasons such as troop welfare, equipment, morality, truth and reason, they couldn’t care less I can assure you of that.

They are even starting to use exactly the same arguments as they did with Iraq to justify it and it always amazes how short people’s memories can be or devoid of comprehension they can be.

I personally think the actual hostilities are a way off yet as the slow boil has been favoured so far, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if some ‘emergency catalyst’ ramped up the rhetoric first with the next year or so.

“Those who do not remember history are condemned to relive it”

Stevenrix said...

The Chinese will not participate in any gasoline embargo. Beijing gets 11 percent of its oil from Iran
China is going to become a competitor within the next few decades, the strategy of the US is to smother China from getting oil resources, so the best strategy for the US to do that is to "stay the curse" in Iraq and keep a presence in the Middle-East. I haven't made up my mind yet, but I don't think the Democrats are going to do anything different from Bush politics, and to tell you the truth Ren., I try to put an aluminium foil on my head because i'm so tired of MSM. Anyway the Dems will just play down the game, accusing the Republicans that they are still in Iraq because of Bush.
PS: I'm planning a trip to China, hopefully this year, but it will be in the south of China, they tend to be more traditional than the North. I'm fascinated by its people, not their government.
PS2: haven't found a job yet, even after getting more skills, what happened to the american economy?


Xie Xie

Renegade Eye said...

Sentinel: I argued mostly with leftists who said Bush was going to invade Iran before he leaves office. I argued publicly against a speaker at a Worker's World forum. What happened? Why didn't Bush do it like people said he would?

I'm closer to the position of this post. My difference is I believe the internal opposition is stronger than they say.

Steven R: This period is not one of slump and adjustment, it's a period of crisis for capitalism. That isn't calling it dead. Recovery is on people's backs. This is a crisis of over capacity. That means production will be cut. People still have needs, but productivity will be cut.

China is now suffering reverberations from the slump. Contrary to "anti-globalization" types, the world is headed for protectionism.

Everyone will be interested in your trip.

Larry Gambone said...

Excellent article. Really shows the complexity of the situation and the positions of the various players, esp the US and Israel.

The Sentinel said...

Renegade eye,

Saying that Bush didn’t invade Iran is proof that it won’t happen isn’t really an indicator of reality.

Why didn’t he? Mainly because he wasn’t told to, would be my guess.

Secondly because it would have been pretty much physically impossible given the commitments already undertaken, but he did manage to preside over two illegal wars based upon nothing but lies without too much of a whimper out of the masses so you have to give him some credit, really.

Obama still has some creditability left around the world so when, after his token peace gestures, he gets around to joining in on the campaign against Iran in earnest, that should ensure equal silence amongst the masses.

The Pagan Temple said...

Sentinel-

I don't think you understand the differences in the political parties here in the US. Democrats, to a person, when it comes to war, can be pretty damn bellicose in their rhetoric when they want to sound tough for political purposes, but when you get right down to it, at the end of the day, their preferred method of assault is with sanctions. When worse comes to worse, they'll lob a few guided missiles and bunker busters, or cluster bombs, from a remote distance. They are very adverse to sending troops into anywhere, though they will do so if no other option is politically tenable.

It took Obama a number of months to come to the decision to send more troops into Afghanistan. He only did that because we were already there and he knew he would catch hell if he did not, the circumstances on the ground there having degraded to the point they had.

The last Democrat to send troops into an area was Bill Clinton, when he sent troops to Somalia. I trust I don't have to tell you what a fiasco that turned out to be.

When Democrats are in charge of war policy, it pretty much amounts to, if our soldiers are attacked and fifty are killed, first they hold a hearing to discuss what it means, and then they issue an order to counter-attack, with the caveat that they should make damn sure they don't kill any more than fifty-one enemy soldiers.

Bear in mind, this is when they want to look "tough but fair". They would much prefer to apologize and leave, followed up with offers of rebuilding aid. In Obama's case, he might go that extra mile of offering a profound, heartfelt apology on behalf of the people of the US.

Is this because the Democratic Party are made up of pussies? Well, partly, but it's mainly because of the people they depend on to be elected-and re-elected. A Democrat who engages in war, no matter the provocation, will always lose at least ten percent of his voting base. If Obama invaded Iran, I can promise you he would lose at least half of his electoral support, and there's no way in hell he'd make it up from another faction.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying, if you are waiting for Obama to declare war on Iran, you might as well be waiting for Prince Charles to assassinate Gordon Brown, arrest Parliament, throw his mother in the Tower of London, and declare himself Emperor of the British Empire and order an invasion of India.

Renegade Eye said...

Pagan: There is more defense spending under Obama, than Bush.

Party is unimportant. Obama's policy is in most ways as Bush's in his second term. Keeping Gates at DoD, is a show of continuity.

Sentinel: The same goes for Obama, what applied to Bush.

The aftereffects are too heavy, post Iran invasion.

Iran is not Kosovo.

The Sentinel said...

Pagan Temple,

That was pretty much the line in the UK (and elsewhere too) when the so-called Labour party took power (the equivalent of your Democrats) but nonetheless they have engaged in more wars in their 13 years in power then any other British party in history, including two illegal wars based upon lies, and still have been re-elected 3 times and may even be re-elected a fourth time next month.

I don’t know how else to put it, but most people it would seem, not only have memories the span of a fruit fly but are about as intelligent as well.

On the main issues in the UK there is no difference between the top three and so it is with your even more restrictive top two.

(Just for instance, do either party really vary on the influx of immigration into your country, both legal and illegal, or what do with the tens of millions illegals already resident? Has either of them even really tried to stop the illegal invasion?)

And given that the exit polls showed that 97% of blacks voted for Obama, who do you think they would switch their vote to anyway?

Do you really think a lifelong Democrat will really vote republican?

Is there any other real choice?

Wasn’t both World Wars presided over by Democratic presidents?

Didn’t the Democrat Wilson base his re-election campaign on the promise that he would keep ‘US boys out of foreign wars?’ And didn’t that promise turn out to be a lie? And didn’t that Democrat lie about US neutrality too? And therefore about the very reason for entering the war? As we all know now the Lusitania was indeed illegally carrying arms and ammunition when it was attacked, and that was a passenger liner so how many other ships were breaching neutrality?

And didn’t the Democrat Roosevelt place an Oil embargo against Japan (much of it Asian oil at that) and then move his war fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbour? Didn’t Roosevelt know that this would inevitably lead to war? After all, they had long broken the Japanese codes and there is much evidence to suggest that the US know full well of the Pearl Harbour plan in advance.

Come to think of it wasn’t the President behind the start of the Vietnam War a Democrat? Wasn’t that Democrat in charge when the Gulf of Tonkin incident earned him the exclusive right to use military force without consulting the Senate? And wasn’t that incident a complete fabrication, and didn’t he admit as much afterwards?

So it seems to me that Democrats don’t mind war at all, in fact they seem to quite like it; and it also seems to me that they don’t mind lying to the American people and the world to get the wars they want when they want them.

The Pagan Temple said...

Sentinel-

Everything you said about past Democratic administrations was spot on, but its also ancient history. The Democratic Party used to be the war party, and was well known as such. However, that was before the advent of the seventies and beyond, when the leftist, pacifist wing of the party became the controlling wing of the party.

There are only very illusory surface similarities between your major parties and US parties. But I'll try to put it this way. Your Labour Party is probably most comparable to the Democratic Party of the sixties and seventies in a good many ways. The Democratic Party of today would probably be more similar to your Liberal party.

As for your Tories, they have probably even less in common with our Republican Party, relatively speaking. Tories are probably most similar to the McCain wing of the party, which by and large, though it is the controlling wing of the party, also makes up the minority in actual numbers. This more moderate wing of the Republicans probably are a third to, at best, forty percent of the party makeup.

There is nothing in either of your parties that can be called conservative, at least not as conservative Americans have come to understand the meaning of the word.

Your Tories favor such things as gun control, for example, which here is considered about as left-wing as you can get. I would presume they are also opposed to the death penalty regardless of the heinousness of the crime involved. They are probably much more amenable to higher taxes for the purposes of social spending programs than are most American conservatives and Republicans.

I would also quibble with your assessment as to the wars being illegal. I guess that all depends on what the meaning of the word illegal is, and who makes that judgment and why. But here in America, there is a very big difference in our two parties as to what constitutes a legitimate reason to go to war and, perhaps far more importantly, how to go about conducting that war once it has been declared.

There is far more daylight between Republicans and Democrats than between Labour and Tory when it comes to this issue, it would seem.

Democrats will go to war only when it becomes a political imperative. For example, should an enemy nuke Baltimore, they would be hard pressed to not respond to some extent.

Otherwise, they know they will lose their base (or at the very least a sizable portion of it) should they go to war, regardless of the importance or the seeming necessity to do so-national security be damned.

All you have to do is ponder many of the comments here by most of these mostly leftist readers of this blog. When it comes to a great many issues, there is far less daylight between they and Democrats than there is between Democrats and Republicans. That's just the reality here.

The Pagan Temple said...

Ren-

Keeping Gates was a way partly of reaching out to Democrats, an attempt to make a show of uniting the country, and also yes, an attempt at continuity in a time of war. But I wouldn't read too much otherwise into it.

As for defense spending, so what? It has always been bloated and mostly bureaucratic nonsense. That has been as true under Democratic presidents as Republicans. It doesn't prove either national loyalty or disloyalty, it simply proves the defense industry is one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, and has been since the days of Eisenhower.

It's like every other fucking bureaucracy, and conservatives do themselves a disservice (in fact the make themselves look foolish and not a little hypocritical) by not wanting to reign it in just like they say they do every other bureaucracy.

Why do you think I rant and rave about NATO? I think after sixty-five years we should assume its probably safe to engage in a gradual troop reduction and ultimate withdrawal from the European theater. Our troops are needed in a handful of areas. Europe isn't one of them, and hasn't been for quite a long time now. So why the hell are we there? Military contracts, perhaps? How much of our hundreds of billions of dollars in defense spending is circulated through that bureaucratic maze anyway. Sorry, but its bullshit. Since when did a mutual defense treaty necessitate our endless presence on foreign soil regardless of whether there is an actual war going on or not? Could it be its just another welfare program for spreading the wealth around? Who knows? I know it looks bad.

The Sentinel said...

Pagan Temple,

You are spot on about the British Tories. There is nothing even remotely conservative left about them at all.

In fact if anything they are even worse PC fanatics in many areas then the Labour party itself and that is pretty much the only thing that is preventing them from a landslide in May; it will cost them dearly in fact and even if they win, all predications point to a hung parliament.

Quite a remarkable feat really, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

The full astounding details of Cameron and the PC insanity he has dragged his party into is too long to bother with here but a few of the choicer ones started upon his taking the leadership of the party and declaring that didn’t like the Britain of the past but Britain precisely as it is now, which obviously begged the question of what exactly is he is doing as the leader of the opposition.

Then there was his suggestion that we should hug hoodies (UK speak for the thugs who wear hooded tops to disguise their faces) rather then punish them; allow unlimited numbers of African homosexuals ‘asylum’ in the UK; the forcing of all women and all ethnic candidate lists on local party committees; the adoption of ‘big society’ based upon Saul Alinsky’s theories, the main one of which he dedicated to Lucifer (incidentally this is the same man Obama declared as his ‘spiritual mentor’) and then perhaps the most ludicrous and to my mind treasonous public uttering of his so far:

“Indeed, they [British Muslims] see aspects of modern Britain which are a threat to the values they hold dear. Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that it is mainstream Britain which needs to integrate more with the Muslim way of life, not the other way around”

For a real assessment of this now crackpot party and their leader read this damning article from a former Tory supporter and paper:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geraldwarner/100032381/david-camerons-big-society-is-a-grotesque-fantasy-inspired-by-leftist-subversive-saul-alinsky/

Shocking stuff, really.

PS: My potted history of the US above was not meant as a reflection of the American people in any way, just some of its 'leaders' and thier actions.

The Pagan Temple said...

Sentinel-

Wow, I didn't know any of that. I see now why the BNP is growing.

Stevenrix said...

@ Ren Eye: perhaps these are the oilfields in Iraq and the Middle-East that are going to allow the US outrageous deficit spendings.

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