Iran War Even Closer?
By Staff News & Analysis - July 13, 2010

A three-front war? Strikes on Iran becoming more likely … There is no better illustration of the futility of the $1 trillion Iraq war than news photos of a long line of gasoline tankers lined up bumper to bumper as they leave Iraq to enter Iran. The U.N. Security Council decision to strengthen economic measures against Iran, and President Obama's (left) signing into law draconian new legislative sanctions against Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions leave Iraq's defeated government unable to act. The Iraq Study Group co-chaired by Lee H. Hamilton, the prominent Democrat who heads the Woodrow Wilson International Center, and James A. Baker III, whose Institute for Public Policy is at Houston's Rice University, warned in 2006 that Iran, now rid of erstwhile enemy Saddam Hussein, was already wielding more influence in Iraq than the U.S. The only sanction that would seriously undermine the mullahs' military regime would be a severe shortage of gasoline. Iran is awash in oil but lacks refining capacity and has to import 60 percent of its gasoline. A lack of governance in Baghdad has enabled Iran to strike a sub rosa deal for gasoline imports.- Washington Times

Dominant Social Theme: War is inevitable. Too bad. An unfortunate necessity.

Free-Market Analysis: Articles such as this one set the scene for the unthinkable – a three-front Middle East war. The U.S. is embroiled in Iraq, no matter what apologists for the "surge" say. The Afghanistan war, as we have covered it, is getting bigger without getting any better for the U.S., and now the U.S. seems to be aiming at Iran. Not only that, but according to this Washington Times article, most if not all Sunni Arab countries in the region want the Iranian Shia regime dealt with in no uncertain terms. Here's some more from the article:

Officially, all the Arab rulers of the Gulf and other Arab leaders are strenuously opposed to any Israeli and/or U.S. air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. But that opposition is eroding rapidly. Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Colorado last week, the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba said publicly – before denying it – "I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion, there will be consequences, there will be a backlash, and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."

And he added, "If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that, versus living with a nuclear Iran, my answer is still the same – 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.'" A former Arab leader, in close touch with current leaders, speaking privately and not for attribution, told this reporter July 6, "All the Middle Eastern and Gulf leaders now want Iran taken out of the nuclear arms business, and they all know sanctions won't work."

In a joint op-ed column, former Sen. Chuck Robb and Gen. Charles F. Wald, the air commander in the opening stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Oct. 2001, say the time is now to prepare credibly for a U.S. military strike. "Sanctions can be effective only if coupled with open preparation for the military option as a last resort … publicly playing down potential military options has weakened our leverage with Tehran, making a peaceful resolution less likely."

Is it serendipitous that the United Arab Emirates is in favor of bombing Iran? These funny little countries constitute virtually an Arab extension of Anglo-American hegemony. They include Dubai, of course, which is perhaps the most Westernized state in the Arab world, and other tiny slivers of desert that host American air power or share their landing and take-off facilities. Al Jazeera, the so-called Arab media service, was set up there as well, staffed by former BBC operatives and funded by a Sheik who is strongly backed by Western powers.

Why would America seek a three-front war? Well, the answer is that it doesn't; in fact, it's risking something worse! Right now, America is all-but-at-war with Pakistan (over Afghanistan), so conflict with Iran would be part of a FOUR-front war. Is another way to say this that America is about to set the Middle East ablaze? Will Israel sit out the fireworks? How about Syria, Libya, et al.?

We really cannot see where America is going with all this. The Times article has one (cynical) answer, as follows: "The temptation for President Obama to double down on Iran will grow rapidly as he concludes that Afghanistan will remain a festering sore as far as anyone can peer into a murky future, hardly a recipe for success at the polls in November. With a war in Afghanistan, which is bound to get worse, and a military theater in Iraq replete with sectarian violence, the bombing of Iran may give Mr. Obama a three-front war – and a chance to retain both houses of Congress."

We have of course pointed this out as well. One way to resuscitate a failed war is to expand it. But as we have also pointed out, such an expansion runs headlong into the limitations of a post-nuclear world. The powers-that-be cannot simply create a world war to erase current economic insanities. Wars have to be controlled, and rapidly, before they escalate into nuclear conflagrations. There is no "do over" button. Additionally, we think buyer's remorse is so widespread in the U.S. that even an expanded war can't be counted on to reinvigorate Democratic chances. It would more likely further destabilize the anti-war Democratic base without attracting many Independent or Republican voters.

But discount politics. What would be the LARGER results of a three-front (four-front) war? Our minds spin. First of all, it is not at all clear that there is tremendous support for bombing Iran, let alone with "tactical nuclear weapons." And even if Iran is bombed, there will still be 70 million Iranians to deal with. Pakistan might blow as well, as sentiment currently is running something like 90 percent against the U.S. and NATO.

Will the U.S. reinstate the draft? Will the Anglo-American axis dragoon European countries into doubling down in the Middle East – even as they are seeking to extricate themselves from Afghanistan? There is little enthusiasm for war left in the U.S. and less in Europe. It is difficult to see as well how this metastasized war can be sold. It is not a good war. NATO has been "over there" too long.

We keep trying to figure out the logic flow here. We discount the idea that bombing Iran is necessary, because we don't think Iran would ever use a nuclear bomb except perhaps in self defense (a point the Times agrees with). The article is written by the famous journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, who rarely let slip an opportunity to add fuel to the Cold-War fire during his career; but if you read the full article, it is fairy clear that even de Borchgrave finds the scenario of opening up a third war front with Iran to be somewhat incomprehensible, at least strategically.

After Thoughts

We write a great deal about the power elite in these pages. Perhaps the elite has simply reached the end of its collective rope: Loose the dogs of wars and let chaos reign. It is, as we have pointed our previously, a strategy better suited to a pre-Internet era. Today too many people understand. The manipulations are transparent. What are we missing? Ideas? Maybe the Obamas are buying gold.