Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Obsolete Brinksmanship

As we watch, helpless, the Greatest Imperial Power the world has ever known is allowing itself to be propelled into the Greatest War Ever Fought in pursuit of the oil that will enable it to continue to grow until it snuffs out human life. The presence in the White House of an eminently educated, aware man, has been no match for the Darth Vader like forces intent on seeing the 99% march lemming-like off a cliff.

Hyperbole?  I don’t think so: Even in the good old days of the Cold War there were enough weapons around to wipe out most of humanity: now they have proliferated, and a very small country is playing a game of chicken with the rest of us, supposedly to save itself from annihilation. Israel has not signed the non-proliferation treaty, and no one (except perhaps our president) knows how many nuclear weapons and delivery systems it has. The Jewish state claims to fear annihilation by Iran, which claims it’s not producing weapons but nuclear fuel for the day when its oil runs out.  (Unrelatedly, but similarly, Greece, which teeters on the brink of a default which could, theoretically, bring down the carefully nurtured ten year old Euro system, claims, with similar dramatic emphasis, that it is being ‘threatened’ by a fellow NATO member, Turkey, forcing it to cut pensions and salaries in order to preserve its military budget. Is there something about Mediterranean peoples that inclines to overstatement?  The Greek-Turkey standoff has been going on for so long that it isn’t even worth my while to Google it. My eighties book on the (then) potential for reunification of Europe, has an annex on the Greek/Turkish standoff.  I haven’t revisited the issue since, but it seems that nothing has changed.  (Cyprus comes into this equation, but it is more complicated than that.)

The Sunni/Shi’a divide, epitomized by Iran and Saudi Arabia, as I pointed out in a recent blog, is as relevant to all of this as the survival of a small state that refuses to play nice because it has a powerful backer - or the geopolitics of oil. Iran had a democratically elected president in 1953, (Mossadegh) who was overthrown by the CIA.  Then, in the eighties, when Sunni-ruled Iraq waged an eight-year war on Shi’a Iran, we backed Iraq (under the same Saddam Hussein whom we would overthrow in 2003...). That ultimately gave us Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution (a modern outcome of Shi’a ideology). Iran’s client state Syria has been ruled by a Shi’te sect, the Alawites, for decades.  Putting an end to the civil war that opposes a mainly Sunni population to President Bashar Al Assad via military intervention of one type or another is not so much going to ‘isolate‘ Iran, as it will protect Israel. (Syria has been known as ‘the front-line state‘ by Palestinians and their supporters, because unlike Israel’s other border states - but like Iran - it has been a staunch Palestinian ally.)

European progressive blogs suggest the U.S. intends to choose a ship that has outlived its usefulness and sink it in the Straits of Hormuz, claiming it to be an act of war by Iran. If this sounds far-fetched, Franklin Roosevelt, who knew of the Japanese intent to bomb Pearl Harbor, moved our newer ships out of harm’s way.  And of course there was the shelling of the Maine off of Havana in 1898, used as a pretext for war with Spain and the acquisition of Cuba.

We can expect war with Iran and regime change in Syria, unless the thought of the combined capabilities of Russia and China forces Washington to rethink its justification for supporting Israel, right or wrong. Our closest ally Britain, is already involved in preserving the U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Bahrain base, where the ever down-trodden Shi’a of the Arab world are saying ‘Enough!‘  (A former high-ranking member of Scotland Yard, forced to resign in the wake of the Murdoch phone hacking scandal, quickly found new employment training the Gulf monarchy’s police.....)

While the U.S. is still behaving as though together with its allies like Israel and Great Britain, it dictates world outcomes, the world goes about its business without us. On February 20, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan held their third trilateral conference - this one focusing officially on counter-terrorism - in Islamabad, but also providing a venu for Iran to affirm its rights and its position in the region.

Brinksmanship is only justified in a world in which one major game is being played.  The information isolation of Americans, feeling safe between two giant seas, is a tragedy, for it leaves them ignorant of the other games being played on the world stage.

I recommend replacing MSNBC with Al Jazeera, which can be found once a day in most areas, and also, RT, the coy acronym for Russia’s English Service, which, with the participation of American and British journalists, gets Putin’s message across, but also much of importance to Americans.

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