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23 March 2012

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Walrus

This afternoon, I began thinking that the "inevitabilty" and "window of opportunity" arguments regarding war with Iran are earily similar to the thinking of Germany prior to World War One.

At that time, Russia was perceived as fast becoming an industrial power and I think I recall that war between Germany and Russia was seen as "inevitable" and that it was regarded as desirable by the German high command (?) to go to war early before the Russian rail networks (the nuclear delivery systems of their time) were developed enough to deliver large numbers of Russian Divisions to the German border.

Does not Professor Sir Michael Howards description of Kaiser Wilhelm II remind you of Netanyahu Pere et Fils?

" it was the misfortune not only of Germany but of the entire world that at this juncture the House of Hohenzollern should have produced, in Wilhelm II, an individual who in his person embodied three qualities that can be said to have characterized the contemporary German ruling elite: archaic militarism, vaulting ambition, and neurotic insecurity."

http://library.northsouth.edu/Upload/The%20First%20World%20War%20A%20Very%20Short%20Introduction.pdf

David Habakkuk

MRW

It gets worse. Leading members of the current Tory government actually admire Blair.

(See http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/26/davidcameron-georgeosborne )

It does not help that, unlike Tory politicians of an earlier generation, many of these people have no practical experience of anything, and very limited knowledge of their own society, let alone any other.

Apart from working for Conservative Central Office, the only job which our current Prime Minister had ever done before become an MP was running PR for a dodgy television company.

Business journalists who had to deal with David Cameron him had contempt for him. Indeed, Jeff Randall, currently editor at large for the Telegraph, is on record as saying 'I wouldn't trust him with my daughter's pocket money', and that he 'put up so much verbal tracker you started to lose your own guidance system.'

(See http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-cameron-what-the-experts-say-199206 )

David Habakkuk

F.B. Ali

I think you are right, but this has fooled the Israeli government into failing to grasp the long-term consequences of the course on which they are set.

The scale of the splits among Jews outside Israel is I think disguised by the fact that the tension between a traditional support for that country and the impossibility, for civilised people, of identifying with what Israel has become, often produces silence.

An identification with Islamophobia, both elite and populist, is something with which some British Jews are comfortable. To others, it is both morally repulsive, and also threatening. They think that the fact that populist xenophobia is now channelled against Muslims does not mean that, if the wind changes, it could not once again be turned against Jews.

David Habakkuk

LeaNder,

So -- Rachkovsky is innocent OK? Who was the 'later scholar'?

RetiredPatriot

BTW, people think the reason why newspapers are dying is because the net affords the public content for free. No. It's because editors here don't have the balls to tell the truth, so we waste our weekends and nights searching for it.

Oh, how so very true!

RP

David Habakkuk

walrus,

Certainly, the similiarities are not reassuring.

One moral of post-1871 German history may also have to do with the dangers of success. The achievements of Bismarck's diplomacy, and of Prussian armies, in 1864 were extraordinary.

This was I think part of the background to the assumption in 1914 that Germany could knock France out of the war, and then turn against Russia, before British potential power could be deployed on the continent, or its naval blockade bite.

Actually one of the things that the British were quite successful at in the lead-up to 1914 was in prioritising their enemies. They did not attempt to challenge the rise of Japanese and American sea power -- and critically, settled their differences with Russia in 1907. Putting the point another way, they grasped that if you want to confront your principal enemy effectively, you need to 'appease' others.

A reasonably rational assessment of priorities is what the contemporary American political system, as also the British, seem incapable of making. In that respect, both countries may have become 'Wilhelmine'.

As you may well know, Sir Michael Howard -- a Grenadier Guards officer in the war and subsequently a pivotal figure in developing military history in this country -- is of German-Jewish origins on his mother's side.

Accordingly, he is technically Jewish. Ironically, people with Jewish names, like the First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon, are often not, as their fathers were Jewish but not their mothers.

In 2008 Howard gave an annual 'Holocaust memorial' lecture organised by a Jewish student society in Oxford. What he says is I think interesting.

(See http://www.oxfordchabad.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/630648/jewish/Prof-Sir-Michael-Howard.htm )

David Habakkuk

Lars,

One general is probably not enough.

Most certainly. What I am however hoping -- I would not put it stronger than that -- is that the emergence of General Dempsey is a sign of a sea change.

It may be that the analogy is misleading, but I do tend to see current developments through the lens of events in Britain in the 1970s.

Throughout the post-war period, it had been generally taken for granted that the power of the British trade union movement was a given of politics.

It appeared too strong to challenge, on the one hand, while on the other, the activities of the unions did not appear excessively damaging, and their position was widely accepted as having legitimacy.

In the course of the 1970s, however, it progressively came apparent to anyone not determined to bury their heads in the sand that union power run amuck was making British industry unmanageable, and the country ungovernable.

However, in part because a great deal of idealism and generosity had gone into the labour movement – along with more venial motives – plenty of people found it difficult to take their heads out of the sand.

In the end, however, the union movement here overreached itself so comprehensively that by the time Thatcher confronted it, she was to a considerable extent pushing on an open door.

The invasion of Iraq, it seemed to me, should have made clear that the power of the Israeli lobby had become quite as dangerous to your country as that of the trade union movement became to ours.

And the fact that, despite the disastrous outcome of that adventure, the lobby has agitating for a yet more foolish attack on Iran, should have made that conclusion absolutely impossible to avoid.

Of course, reading the sycophantic emails which General Petraeus sent to Max Boot, or the damning indictment of senior commanders by Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davies, it has seemed possible that the spirit of General George Marshall – or indeed General Walter Bedell Smith – was dead among senior army figures.

(See http://mondoweiss.net/2010/07/petraeus-fed-his-pro-israel-bona-fides-to-a-neocon-writer-including-pathetic-recitation-of-meeting-wiesel.html ; http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/the-afghanistan-report-the-pentagon-doesnt-want-you-to-read-20120210 )

However, it may well be that there are many senior commanders, as well as General Dempsey, who can see the dangers that the course advocated by the lobby poses to the United States. They may also share at least some of the attitudes of many of their fellow-countrymen, as graphically set out in MRW’s comments on this thread.

And after all, to be the servant of a constitutional republic is a rather more inspiring role than that of an ‘ass-kissing little chickenshit’, to quote Admiral Fallon’s memorable description of General Petraeus.

Babak Makkinejad

They are not abandoned by Iran.

Babak Makkinejad

I am who I am and I stand here exposed to any and all.

I am tied by blood, religion, and culture to Iran.

And the "Regime of Ayatollahs" is still the best government that Iranians have had in 3000 years of glorious history.

My questions stands.

I can understand Jews' feelings towards Israel.

I can understand the misgudied and delusional (in my opinion) of very many Protestant Christains.

But that is how far I can go.

You are entitled not to engage me; you will be missing a lot.

Babak Makkinejad

I think the situation in the Middle East is not comparable to pre-World War I Europe.

I think the world-wide situation approximates Europe before the start of World WWar I.

Consider:

By early 1900, the economic foundation of the Peace of Vienna had eroded.

And you had a rising power in Germany.

And you had decaying imperial states such as Ottoman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire.

And then there was the perennial ethnic quarrels in the Balkans - linguistic and religious.

In our own time, the Peace of Yalta ended in 1991 followed not by another negogiated peace but by US and EU expoliting their unilateral moment to the hilt.

The economic foundations of the US-EU prosperity, the Finance Economy, crashed and burnt in 2011.

We have rising powers, such as China, Iran, Brazil, and India while, the situation between Hind Kush to the Mediterranean Sea is in many ways similar to what obtained in the Balkans early last century.

Racial and Religious emtions are being enflamed across the planet; in my opinion.

A sane person, like Bismarck or Metternich, would not walk down this path.

Babak Makkinejad

This is not about Mr. Blair.

UK's Iran policy has continued in much the same manner under Mr. Brown and now under Mr. Cameron.

Explain that, if you will.

Neil Richardson

Dear Mr. Habakkuk:

As someone who doesn't specialize in the Middle East and isn't that knowledgeable about the history of Zionism, I really do appreciate your posts as they prompt me to rethink my assumptions. There's a lot to chew on, but I have a couple of passing observations.

First, it appears to me that the focus on the Iranian "irrationality" might be a double-edged sword as far as the latest round of information operation here in the US by the usual suspects among the neoconservatives. If one subscribes to this position, then it contradicts the unstated premise that the Iranians would exercise restraint after an Israeli strike. I fully agree that the probable reason for this harsh attack against Dempsey had to do with the possibility that many Americans might conclude that a nuclear Iran would be deterrable if the leadership is seen as "rational." Your reading of the leak on Internal Look seems very accurate. The only thing I might add is that it was an attempt to demonstrate to the American public that there are divergent national interests at stake as Col. Lang and others have tried to do for many years.

Second, while I certainly cannot speak for the current senior military leadership, most were commissioned after 1973. As someone who remembers what the conditions had been in the immediate years after Vietnam, I suspect enough senior officers in the Army and the Marine Corps don't want to see those "hollow" years repeated. I've heard enough line officers say that the Army needed some time to reset. As for the Air Force and the Navy, their focus is elsewhere now. Given the inevitable deep cuts in military spending, the last thing they'd want is another drawn out conflict in the Middle East draining necessary resources prior to force modernization. Gen. Mattis is a realist and I wasn't surprised that the most recent Internal Look challenged the Israeli assessment. (Contrast that to what Mike Mullen had done prior to the Afghan surge.) As Col. Lang had noted during the policy deliberation, there were clear-eyed senior officers like Cartwright and Lute who had given the best possible advice to Obama before the Afghan surge.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

I have found exchanging views with you over the years extremely valuable, precisely because I have very little grasp of the immense complexities of the past history and contemporary politics of Iran.

A major problem with both British and American foreign policy is that many rely for guidance about polities that are alien to them on people who either share, or profess to share, their own ideological assumptions. This has repeated proven a route to catastrophic misunderstanding, as was amply demonstrated by the American and British misadventure in Iraq.

However it seems clear that my own ideological assumptions are sufficiently alien to yours for you to have difficulty reading me.

The reason for my irritation with your question was that you made assumptions about my attitude to Israel which are simply not justified by what I have written on this site either on this occasion or on others.

When either simply through the way that developments play out, or through the mismanagement of its leaders, or some combination of the two, a polity ends up in a blind alley where it has poor prospects of survival, it is liable to be a danger both to itself and to others.

In 1919, the former Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, Count Czernin, remarked: 'We had to die. But we could choose the means of our death, and we chose the most terrible.' Peoples in Europe, and also the Middle East, have been living with the consequences of that choice for almost a century.

In my view, the long-term prospects of a Jewish settler state in Palestine would be acutely problematic, at the best of times. However, the history of the country since 1967 has seen a repeated failure to take the least-worst option, which has boxed it into a dead end from which I have difficulty seeing any way out.

At the same time, Israel is able to exercise a very large amount of influence both on the United States, and on the European powers. And this influence has been deployed to get Americans and Europeans to pursue reckless courses -- not least, in relation to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Meanwhile, Israel also has a large nuclear arsenal.

You may be confident that the Israeli government are 'supreme realists'. I think your confidence is quite delusional. Indeed, I am sceptical as to whether Netanyahu can afford to be a 'realist', as to look soberly at the options open to Israel would entail recognising that the whole course Zionists of his stripe have pursued for decades has been disastrous for their country.

The catastrophic potentialities of this situation frighten the living daylights out of me, for reasons which have rather more to do with my concern for the fate of my own country than for that of anyone in the Middle East.

In relation to other peoples, I think there is a lot to be said for the Hippocratic principle of trying to avoid harm. My limited capacity for emotional involvement is however not directed any more or less to Israelis than to Palestinians or indeed Iranians.

Roy G.

But the Israelis do worry, and it's not just about domination of the Palestinian people, but about continuing the expansion of 'Judea and Samaria,' and consolidating their land thefts.

Politically, you are correct that no major powers are backing the Palestinians, however, I think world opinion outside of the halls of power has changed dramatically in the past 5 years about the plight of the Palestinians. And it is not just about political and military power, but about demographics. The hidden rationale for Zionist demands that all Jews should live in Israel is a nod to this demographic tilt, which produced the influx of Russian Jews who in turn birthed the 'Yisrael Beitenu' movement, among other unintended consequences.

When a con man is performing, the skeptic knows to watch elsewhere from where the con man is trying to direct his audience's attention; Israel is desperate to keep the world's attention away from Palestine and the Palestinians. This may not wholly account for their fixation on Iran, but it is surely amongst their motivations.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

I just did. Both the Labour leadership, and that of the Tory Party, largely adopted delusional neoconservative ways of thinking.

While David Cameron has made a few tentative steps away from neoconservatism since 2006, the position is still not so radically different from that described by the former Tory MP -- and FCO official -- Matthew Parris back in 2006.

(See http://www.politicsforum.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=94&t=31435 )

When he visited the United States in 2010, Cameron made quite clear the depth of his subservience, and suggested he was profoundly ignorant even of his own country's history:

'I think it's important in life to speak as it is, and the fact is that we are a very effective partner of the U.S., but we are the junior partner,' he said. 'We were the junior partner in 1940 when we were fighting the Nazis.'

(See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1296551/David-Cameron-describes-Britain-junior-partner-Americans-1940.html )

As so often both in the U.K. and the U.S., invocations of Nazism are deployed as empty rhetoric, uninformed by any serious attempt to grapple with the complexities of twentieth-century history.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

So, if I understand you correctly, you are rightly concerned about a possible route to “Sarajevo” but this time in 2012 or 2013 or 2014 and in an area called the Middle East. A possibility that would affect UK very negatively indeed.

My impression of the Europeans both on a personal level and through anecdotes from others is that very many of them – perhaps up to half – believe in their moral superiority. And it is strikingly clear among very many European tourists to Iran.

You are clealry not like them and nor was Mr. Straw who did not come across as yet another sanctimonious European trying to lecture those benighted fools on their stupidity.

But this presumed moral superiority is the road to perdition, in my opinion, and possibly war, in my opinion.

The victory of Israel in 1967 War was indeed a disaster for Israel, for Jews, , for US, for EU, and for Arabs in particular and Muslims in general.

It elevated a war between Arabs and Israelis into a religious war between Judaism and Islam.

There are 2 mosques at the site of the Temple Mont – one is built on the site were God had gathered all prophets for a prayer led by the Prophet Mohammad and the other is built on the site where the Prophet Mohammad had ascended to Heaven during his Night Journey.

These sites cannot remain under the control of non-Muslims in any future peace deal.

Yet my Jewish friends tell me that Israelis will never give that up.

So the war in and for Palestine will continue; in my opinion unless something else is attempted.

And as it continues, it will inflame more and more religious passions.

The alternative, in my opinion, is a conference attended by US, Israel, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestinians to forge a new peace.

Once these principals have agreed on a settlement, others such as EU, OIC, the Russian Federation, and China could be brought in to help implement it. EU, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan, and Korea will be needed to open their cheque-books and write big cheques to under-write the Peace.

Almost certainly a new dispensation must be created for the area between the Jordan River to the Sea – since the 2-state solution is dead (as I stated many years ago on this forum).

After De Gaulle’s June 18 1940 speech, this French lawyer went to see him in order to find out what he could do to help. Knocked at De Gaull’s hotel room and introduced himself. De Gaulle stated that he was just the person that he (De Gaulle) wanted to see; a lawyer to help him draft the post War French Constitution. And if someone else watched those two, during darkest days of 1940, working on a post-war French constitution, that person would have thought them to be stark raving maniacs.

zanzibar

David

Thanks for this excellent note. Very thought provoking. And the viewpoints of the SST correspondents have added to my understanding.

In my opinion, even many educated people here in the US have a limited understanding of the nuances of other cultures. I admit to being in that category as I am constantly surprised by my own reactions to certain behaviors that I have experienced in my travels. However, in my experience that goes for other cultures too. Especially an attribution to colonial and imperial attitudes of some of our behaviors while not being able to consider other rationales.

Most people outside the US don't get our domestic politics and the packaging of candidates and their messages and the financing of campaigns. They don't get the perpetual campaigns and the requirement for constant fundraising to keep this non-stop campaigning going. They don't get the revolving door between government and special interests and the use of government to further those interests. They don't appreciate that a president, like Bill Clinton, can leave office with a negative net worth and in a few years become a centi-millionaire. That senators and congressmen can lose an election and profit immediately as a lobbyist. Santorum, Gingrich, Daschle, Gephardt, Dodd, et al are all good examples. Influence peddling is a money maker!

Just track the current Republican presidential nomination and the foreign policy attitudes that these candidates think the base will buy. Think about the role of campaign financiers like Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, the Pritzker family and the Koch brothers. Recall the 2006 and 2008 campaigns and messaging du jour. Look at the role of folks like Joe Lieberman and the NY congressional caucus when it comes to ME policy. Think about the stereotypes that exist - the mad mullahs who can't wait to commune with virgins and how backwards these muslims are - look how badly they treat their women. And then Iranian and other muslim leaders play right into reinforcing such caricatures. Ahmedinejad is the gift that keeps giving.

This is the context in which political decision making takes place.

Babak

You may believe that the "Regime of Ayatollahs" is the best in 3,000 years but many Iranians will disagree with you on that. I am willing to wager that given a free and fair environment with no concern for reprisals that the Iranian people will over the course of the next few generations want a change in the form of government.

Your belief that the "hard men" in the US and Europe drive policy is common among those that live outside. I believe that may have been true in the past but today I am of the opinion that in the era of perpetual political campaigns, that domestic politics plays an outsized role. I believe that Obama's number one priority is to get re-elected followed by setting the stage for his serious money making enterprise post the presidency. And then would come creating the hagiography of his legacy. IMO, he chose coercive diplomacy precisely because it was the most expedient from a political triangulation perspective. Any other "reasonable" contemporary politician would have likely done exactly the same. On the other hand a neo-con inspired politician would likely have gone the path of capitulation or war. Think what a Santorum or Gingrich presidency would be doing. IMO, only a Ron Paul like presidency would be seriously considering a diplomatic settlement.

JohnH

Yes, it is clear that Israel has captured the headlines for promoting war with Iran. I've wondered about that, since the US and the European powers seem almost as gung-ho. However, they prefer to appear to lead from behind.

So what is going on? Is Israel (and Jews) being set up to take a fall if the enterprise turns out as badly as Iraq and Afghanistan? And are the US and Europe preparing some sort of lame, but plausibly deniable excuse (the devil made them do it!)?

Of course, Israeli leaders love the attention lavished on them by the Western powers--it fits right into their own hubris, their inflated sense of self-importance, and their delusions of being special.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

So, if I understand you correctly, you are rightly concerned about a possible route to “Sarajevo” but this time in 2012 or 2013 or 2014 and in an area called the Middle East. A possibility that would affect UK very negatively indeed.

Absolutely – and anyone with enough intelligence to grasp the seriousness of the potential effects on Britain ought to be able to see ample reason to be apprehensive.

I set out parallels between developments in the Middle East and events leading up to 1914 in a discussion arising out of a post by Colonel Lang on the new line of fortifications which Hizbullah was building north of the Litani a little over five years ago. The exchanges, which ran over three threads, were very illuminating, and the summary of mine of where they pointed which concluded the final thread has I think the test of time reasonably well.

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2007/02/the_tabouleh_li.html ; http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2007/02/transcript_the_.html )

The resort to crude forms of ‘coercive diplomacy’, with the clear undertone that hopes are really being placed on ‘regime change’, is essentially an attempt to find a ‘third way’, avoiding the unpleasant choice between facing the risks of war with Iran and of ending up looking like a ‘paper tiger’, into which American policy was then heading.

It is perfectly fair to say that the hope of destroying the ‘independent geopolitical autonomy of Iran’ is behind this. But not simply the approach being pursued, but also the goal itself, violates the basic requirement of good strategy that one should set goals not on the basis of hope, but of what one can realistically expect to achieve with the means available.

It appears to be a widespread view even among Iranian-Americans who, unlike yourself, are vehemently opposed to the current system, that sanctions are likely to be ineffective alike in securing a climbdown over the nuclear programme, and in precipitating ‘regime change’.

Indeed, Trita Parsi has just made the case on Peter Beinart’s new ‘Open Zion’ website. Moreover, he has argued, cogently in my view, that the kind of sanctions being pursued will make eventual war more rather than less likely.

(See http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/20/sanctions-will-lead-to-war-not-prevent-it.html )

Meanwhile, attempts to step up the pressure may be having very seriously negative effects on other American interests. It may appear a clever move to cut Iranian banks out of the SWIFT payments system, but as a recent post by Juan Cole brought out, the likely effect is give further impetus to the already accelerating disintegration in the reserve currency status of the dollar.

(See http://www.juancole.com/2012/03/india-trade-delegation-bucks-us-sanctions-on-iran.html )

This simply adds to the multitude of reasons why precisely those in Washington and London who are concerned with the hard-headed pursuit of national interest would abandon the ambitious, not to say hubristic objectives currently being pursued alike by the United States government and the Europeans.

What has stood in the way of their views having much impact is indeed the combination of the primacy of domestic political considerations in the United States, vividly described in the comment by ‘zanzibar’ on this thread, and, in Britain, the habit of unquestioned deference to the United States which I have been documenting.

It is perhaps also worth noting that the belief that in relation to Syria, undermining the ‘axis of resistance’ should trump all other considerations is taken for granted by neoconservatives – but not by an older style of British diplomat used to thinking in terms of hard-headed considerations of national interest, like the former Ambassador to Syria Sir Andrew Green.

(See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17179639 )

So indeed I would in considerable measure agree with your concluding suggestion that ‘a sane person, like Bismarck or Metternich, would not walk down this path.’ My qualification would simply be that, in addition to elements of pure imbecility, a version of what Germans have referred to as ‘Primat der Innenpolitik’ is very significant, precisely as ‘zanzibar’ says.

This is something of which, if the catastrophic potentialities of the current situation are to be contained, policymakers in the Islamic Republic need to be fully aware.

Babak Makkinejad

I ask you and those Iranians to please point to any period in the Iranian history which had a governing structure and a society superior to that of the Islamic Republic.

In regards to Mr. Obama, I disagree with your assessment. I observe that as strategic poistion of US (and EU)has deteriorated, their policy vis a vis Iran has become more coercive.

Mr. Obama torpedoed the 2010 fuel exchange deal since US planners - the hard men - deemed it useful to spend the rest of 2010 and early 2011 in formulating and executing a coercive diplomatic policy with their EU colleagues.

And I fail to see any benefit to Mr. Obama, when earlier this year, he had to - in effect - publicly concede the truth of the statements of the Iranian leaders?

Diplomatic settlement is not in the cards; the United States has painted herself into a (legal) corner from which she cannot easily extricate herself; in my opinion.

Mr. Obama knew that, he knew that he not only lacked positive inducements vis a vis Iran, he could not even remove the negative ones.

So he and EU leaders evidently doubled-down - as it were - hoping for Iranian collapse or surrender.

Babak Makkinejad

The costs to US & EU in regards to their Iran policy and their willingness to absorb such costs, in my opinion, indicates the seriousness with which these leaders – over several election cycles in multiple countries - oppose the existence of a state with strategic autonomy in the Middle East that is non-aligned against them.

Furthermore, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that just like the war in Palestine, US and EU leaders have run out of ideas of how to resolve their confrontation with Iran.

So, at one end of the Middle East, you have a religious war with all its attendant emotional and strategic consequences and on the other end you have a permanent confrontation with a Shia Power.

The interview with Ambassador Sir Andrew Green, once again demonstrates that no one in US or EU governing structures listens to what ambassadors have to say.

I wonder why they are sent abroad.

In my opinion, US has not had a first-rate strategic thinker since the late Mr. Nixon in a position to influence policy over the last 30 years.

Interestingly, in the meantime, the People's Republic of China has become the "indispensable nation" to very many states all over the world including in the Middle East.

They have excellent relations with Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan etc.

William R. Cumming

Is the real difference in US and Israel policy towards Iran that the US believes Iran might do something to attack US interests and Israel and Israel believes Iran WILL do something?

If that is the case then how are capabilities of Iran analyzed by the US and Israel and is there a difference?

And how is motivation of Iranian leadership analyzed by the US and Iran and is there a difference?

Who has the best INTEL on Iranian capabilities and motivations, the US or Israel?

There is a large first generation Iranian population in the US and are they of any significance in INTEL analysis of Iran? I have a friend who is former Iranian Air Force enlisted under the SHAH who came to US after 1979, married to an American, and now US citizen himself who calls and is called from Iran all the time over "rug" issues. Is there an Iranian "Chalabi" involved in driving US policy?

Neil Richardson

"Interestingly, in the meantime, the People's Republic of China has become the "indispensable nation" to very many states all over the world including in the Middle East.

They have excellent relations with Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan etc."

And I really do hope that the PRC continues to improve their relations with Israel. While this is a long shot, I also hope the Bibi and Lieberman also reciprocate to upgrade the Sino-Israeli relationship. That would help clarify a lot of things for influential neoconservatives in the US.

FB Ali

David Habakkuk,

In the course of this discussion you have painted a dire picture of the state of politics and policy-making in Britain. Relating that to the circus that is politics in the US, it would appear that the current crisis afflicting the West is not only a breakdown of capitalism (as frequently noted and commented upon in the past couple of years) but also a breakdown of the system of democracy.

I wonder if you'd like to discuss this in a new post, since I'm sure you must have thought quite a bit about the subject, and related issues. It would make for a good discussion, as good as the one engendered by this post of yours.

zanzibar

Babak

I don't care one bit what form of government Iran has. That is for the Iranian people to decide. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have zero expertise on the ME. All I know is that the depiction of the current society and economy by Iranians that I have met in the US and France as well as Iranian students that I met in India is contrary to yours.

I find it hard to follow your logic regarding the linkage between a deteriorating strategic position of the US and coercive policies with respect to Iran. As you know the classic issues with correlation vs causation. I would draw your attention to the Republican presidential candidates views on Iran and it's nuclear program. Also, note the rest of the domestic context under which Obama's policy has to exist. I hope the Iranian leadership will take into serious consideration the domestic political dynamic in the US. A miscalculation on their part could lead to devastating consequences for the Iranian people as I believe there is a huge emotional and political component to US decision making. If you are correct and the "hard men" are driving the bus I would be less worried of a trip down the cliff.

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