Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New address

The address of No Simple Matter has changed, new address is

http://nosimplematter.livejournal.com

or preferably

http://nosimplematter.org

The latter always points to the right site.


Thanks, please continue reading, and spread information !


-Editors

War Porn


War Porn
by Tom Engelhardt
TomDispatch
June 14, 2006

The history of war-atrocity snapshots did not start with the Abu Ghraib
screen-savers from hell. After all, photography itself came into being
as the industrializing West was imposing its rule on much of the
planet. That imposition meant wars of conquest; and such colonial wars,
in turn, meant slaughter.
 
From the moment the wooden sailing ship mounted with canons took to the
high seas and Europeans began to seize the coasts of the planet,
technological advantage lay with them. When others resisted, as they
regularly did, the result was almost invariably an unbalanced slaughter
that passed for war. Even in the relatively rare instances when
European powers, as at Adowa in Ethiopia in 1896, lost a battle, the
casualty figures still tended to run staggeringly in the other
direction. In 1898, at the victorious battle of Omdurman, the British,
using Maxim machines guns and artillery, famously slaughtered perhaps
11,000 Dervishes, wounding many more, at a cost of 48 British
casualties. ("It was not a battle," wrote one observer, "but an
execution.")
 
With the one-sided slaughter their technological advantage in arms (and
in the industrial organization of warfare)offered came the presumption
by the Europeans, the Americans when they joined the imperial game, and
the Japanese when they too leaped in, that there was some deeper kind
of superiority -- racial, religious, or civilizational -- at work
determining events. And so, above the repetitious fact of slaughter was
invariably unfurled a banner with glorious slogans about delivering the
benefits of "civilization" (in the French case, literally, the mission
civilatrice; in the American case, "democracy") to the ignorant or
benighted heathen and barbarians of the backward parts of the planet.
 
When against such obvious superiority and the benefits that went with
it, native peoples "irrationally" resisted their own subjugation, when,
against great odds and suffering terrible casualties, they refused to
give in and were not wiped away, this naturally confounded
expectations. It engendered an incomprehension, sometimes a fury in the
troops sent to subject them, who had been assured that their task was
an expression of manifest destiny itself. Then, of course, came
frustration, resentment, rage, the urge for revenge, in short, the
atrocity -- and against such inferior, irrational, inhuman types, it
was increasingly something not just to be committed, but to be
recorded.
 
How convenient that the camera was there and ever easier for any common
marauding soldier to use. There is, unfortunately, no historian of the
trophy war photo (as far as I know), but from the later nineteenth
century on, these certainly begin to appear -- Europeans holding
Chinese heads aloft after the Boxer Rebellion was crushed by a
European-American-Japanese expeditionary force; the photo albums
Japanese soldiers brought back from their imperial (and disastrous)
expeditionary campaigns on the Chinese mainland in the 1930s -- those
"burn all, kill all, loot all" campaigns against resistant peasants --
with snapshots again of Chinese heads being removed, private records of
moments not to be forgotten.
 
The principle was: Do the barbaric to those already labeled barbarians
or "bandits," or "rebels," a principle extended, not surprisingly, to
America's imperial wars. When Vietnam descended into the famed
"quagmire," for instance, it also descended into an orgy of atrocities.
By the accounts of soldiers, the taking of ears, fingers, even heads
was not out of the ordinary. As one soldier described the matter to
author Wallace Terry in Bloods, An Oral History of the Vietnam War by
Black Veterans, "Well, those white guys would sometimes take the
dog-tag chain and fill that up with ears... They would take the ear off
to make sure the VC was dead... And to put some notches on they guns.
If we were movin' through the jungle, they'd just put the bloody ear on
the chain and stick the ear in their pocket and keep going. Wouldn't
take time to dry it off. Then when we get back, they would nail 'em up
on the walls of our hootch." Another told Terry that the fourteen ears
and fingers "strung on a piece of leather around my neck... symbolized
that I'm a killer. And it was, so to speak, a symbol of combat-type
manhood."
 
And the camera, which anyone could use by now, was never far behind.
Many of these scenes were snapped and undoubtedly kept, including, as
journalist Michael Herr recounted in his classic account of the war
Dispatches, shots of severed heads. Some of these photos were
disseminated. I remember one of them appearing in the late 1960s in an
alternative (or, as they were called then, "underground") paper, of a
grinning American soldier holding up a severed Vietnamese head in what
could only be called a trophy-hunting pose.
 
But the digital camera, the cell-phone camera, and the capacities of
the computer as well as the Internet -- that technological superiority
still at work -- has lent the trophy photo new power in our latest war
of frustration, making it so much more available to the non-war-making
public and the world at large. As Susan Sontag commented after some of
the Abu Ghraib photos were finally published, these reflected "a shift
in the use made of [trophy] pictures -- less objects to be saved than
messages to be disseminated, circulated. A digital camera is a common
possession among soldiers. Where once photographing war was the
province of photojournalists, now the soldiers themselves are all
photographers -- recording their war, their fun, their observations of
what they find picturesque, their atrocities -- and swapping images
among themselves and e-mailing them around the globe."
 
If the enemy are barbarian beheaders (as some of them indeed are), when
you consider the photos that have emerged from our latest imperial
expeditionary campaign in Iraq, you need to ask, what exactly are we?
Just what is it that we are actually spreading to the world on the tips
of our Cruise missiles or via Hellfire-missile armed Predator drones,
as well as up close and personal from Abu Ghraib to Haditha? What kind
of screen-savers are we really creating for posterity?

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

----

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-Peter K. Niven

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nobel Laureate flays Bush


Nobel Laureate flays Bush
by Haroon Siddiqui
Asheville Global Report
June 14, 2006

Jun. 1- Gunter Grass, celebrated German novelist, playwright, poet,
essayist, sculptor and commentator, is a living legend. When this Nobel
Laureate speaks, people listen.

His address in Berlin to the annual Congress of International PEN, the
worldwide organization of writers, had been much anticipated,
especially given his long admonition to intellectuals to speak up on
the political and moral issues of the day.

He himself has done so all his life, most famously against the Nazi
past and contemporary neo-Nazism and xenophobia.

Grass, at 78 still spry and energetic, quickly gets into his topic,
"The hubris of the world's only superpower," and proceeds to offer a
sweeping critique.

His words find resonance among the writers gathered, including another
Nobel Laureate, South African novelist Nadine Gordimer.

"Armed force is used by this superpower to defeat the terrorism it is
itself responsible for," Grass says, citing Osama bin Laden, the
by-product of US support for Afghan jihadists in the 1980s. "The war
[on Iraq], deliberately started in blatant disdain of the laws of
civilized societies, produces still more terror."

Yet George W. Bush is searching for new enemies and targets.

"Dictatorships, and there are plenty to choose from, are referred to as
rogue states and threatened vociferously with military strikes,
including the deployment of nuclear weapons. But it only further
stabilizes the fundamentalist power systems in those countries.

"Whether the term 'axis of evil' is used to refer to Iran or North
Korea or Syria, politics could not be more stupid and hence more
dangerous. Yet the entire world is watching and pretending to be
powerless."

Grass quotes liberally from the blistering speech given last year by
British playwright Harold Pinter in accepting the Nobel Prize for
Literature: "The United States supported and, in many cases, engendered
every right-wing military dictatorship in the world after World War II
- Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the
Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador and, of course, Chile...

"Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place in those countries... but
you wouldn't know it. The crimes of the US have been systematic,
constant, vicious, and remorseless but very few people have actually
talked about them.

"You have to hand it to America. It has exercised quite a clinical
manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for
universal good. It's brilliant, even witty, a highly successful act of
hypnosis. How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be
described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?"

Having cited Pinter, Grass adds his own condemnation of "the
hypocritical method of keeping the body count" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Although we meticulously keep count of the victims of terror attacks -
terrible though their number is - nobody bothers to count the dead
caused by American bombs or rocket attacks."

The death toll from America's "three Gulf Wars," as he called it - "the
first one having been fought by Saddam Hussein against Iran, with
support from the United States" - runs into hundreds of thousands.

"In Western evaluation, not only are there first-, second- or third
class citizens among the living, but also among the dead."

As for Bush and Tony Blair, he says, "whenever their lies lack
persuasive power, they put God into harness. Hypocrisy is written all
over their faces. They are like the priests and missionaries of old who
used to bless weapons and carry death with their Bibles into distant
countries."

The enormity of US-initiated death, destruction and torture, places a
burden on the citizens of democracy to be more vigilant: "Who wanted
this war? What are the lies that have disguised its true purpose? Who
profits from it? Whose shares go up because of it?"

In a post-speech interview, I ask Grass about governments ignoring the
electorate between elections, as those did in Britain, Italy and Spain,
which joined the war on Iraq despite overwhelming public opposition.

"In the last 10 years, lobbies have become stronger than the
government, in the US and other democracies," Grass responds. "They
cannot change policy, for example, on health without the pharmaceutical
industry, or farming policy without the farm groups. Lobbies are too
powerful," the most powerful being the ones wanting war.

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-Jim Leftwich & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

----

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-Peter K. Niven

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Tripolar Chessboard


The Tripolar Chessboard
Putting Iran in Great Power Context
by Michael T. Klare; TomDispatch
June 15, 2006

For months, the American press and policy-making elite have portrayed
the crisis with Iran as a two-sided struggle between Washington and
Tehran, with the European powers as well as Russia and China playing
supporting roles. It is certainly true that George Bush and Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are the leading protagonists in this
drama, with each making inflammatory statements about the other in
order to whip up public support at home. But an informed reading of
recent international diplomacy surrounding the Iranian crisis suggests
that another equally fierce -- and undoubtedly more important --
struggle is also taking place: a tripolar contest between the United
States, Russia, and China for domination of the greater Persian
Gulf/Caspian Sea region and its mammoth energy reserves.
 
When it comes to grand strategy, top Bush administration officials have
long attempted to maintain American dominance of the "global
chessboard" (as they see it) by diminishing the influence of the only
other significant players, Russia and China. This classic geopolitical
contest began with a flourish in early 2001, when the White House
signaled the provocative course it planned to follow by unilaterally
repudiating the U.S.-Russian Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and
announcing new high-tech arms sales to Taiwan, which China still
considers a breakaway province. After 9/11, these initial signals of
antagonism were toned down in order to secure Russian and Chinese
assistance in fighting the war on terror, but in recent months the
classic chessboard version of great-power politics has again come to
dominate strategic thinking in Washington.
 
Advancing the Strategic Pawns
 
This resurgence was perhaps first signaled on May 4, when Vice
President Dick Cheney went to Lithuana, the former Soviet Socialist
Republic (SSR), to lambaste the Russian government at a pro-democracy
confab. He accused Kremlin officials of "unfairly and improperly"
restricting the rights of Russian citizens and of using the country's
abundant oil and gas supplies as "tools of intimidation [and]
blackmail" against its neighbors. He also condemned Moscow for
attempting to "monopolize the transportation" of oil and gas supplies
in Eurasia -- a direct challenge to U.S. interests in the Caspian
region.
 
The next day, Cheney flew to the former SSR of Kazakhstan in oil and
natural gas rich Central Asia, where he urged that country's leaders to
ship their plentiful oil through a U.S.-sponsored pipeline to Turkey
and the Mediterranean rather than through Russian-controlled pipelines
to Europe.
 
Then, on June 3, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld weighed in on
China, telling an audience of Asian security officials that Beijing's
"lack of transparency" with respect to its military spending
"understandably causes concerns for some of its neighbors." These
comments were accompanied by publicly announced plans for increased
U.S. spending on sophisticated weapons systems liked the F-22A
Air-superiority Fighter and Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines
that could only be useful in a big-power war for which there were just
two candidates, Russia and China.
 
Like Russia, China has also aroused Washington's ire over its
aggressive energy policies -- but in China's case over its increasing
attempts to nail down oil and gas supplies for its burgeoning,
energy-poor economy. In Military Power of the People's Republic of
China, its most recent report on Chinese military capabilities issued
on May 23, the Pentagon decried China's use of arms transfers and other
military aid as inducements to countries like Iran and Sudan to gain
access to energy reserves in the Middle East and Africa, and for
acquiring warships "that could serve as the basis for a force capable
of power projection" into the oil-producing regions of the planet.
 
There's nothing new about the Bush administration's urge to rollback
Russia and "contain" China. Such thinking was famously articulated in
the "Defense Planning Guidance for 1994-99," written by then
Undersecretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz and leaked to the press in
early 1992. "Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a
new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or
elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by
the Soviet Union," the document famously declared. This remains the
principal aim of U.S. strategy today, but it has now been joined by
another key objective: to ensure that the United States -- and no one
else -- controls the energy supplies of the Persian Gulf and adjacent
areas of Asia.
 
When first articulated in the "Carter Doctrine" of 1980, this precept
was directed exclusively at the Gulf; now, under President Bush, it has
been extended to the Caspian Sea basin as well -- a consequence of
rising oil prices, fears of diminishing supplies, and the vast oil and
natural gas deposits believed to be housed there. To assert U.S.
influence in this region, once part of the Soviet Union, the White
House has been setting up military bases, supplying arms, and
conducting a sub-rosa war of influence with both Moscow and Beijing.
 
Knight's moves in the Gulf
 
It is in this context that the current struggle over Iran must be
viewed. Iran occupies a pivotal position on the tripolar chessboard.
Geographically, it is the only nation that abuts both the Persian Gulf
and the Caspian Sea, positioning Tehran to play a significant role in
the two areas of greatest energy concern to the United States, Russia,
and China. Iran also abuts the strategic Strait of Hormuz -- the narrow
waterway from the Gulf to the Indian Ocean through which about
one-quarter of the world's oil moves every day. As a result, if
Washington ever lifted its trade embargo on Iran, its territory could
be used as the most obvious transit route for the delivery of oil and
natural gas from the Caspian countries to global markets, especially in
Europe and Japan.
 
As the most populous and industrialized nation in the Persian Gulf
basin, Iran has always played a significant role in that region's
affairs -- a situation that has often troubled neighbors like Saddam
Hussein's Iraq (which invaded Iran in 1980, beginning a bloody
eight-year war that ended in an exhausted stalemate). In recent years,
Iran has also gained regional clout as the center of the Shia branch of
Islam. Long despised and abused by Sunnis, the Shia are now in the
ascendancy in neighboring Iraq and are gaining greater visibility in
Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the Shia-populated areas of Saudi Arabia
nearest to Kuwait (where crucial Saudi oil fields lie) in what is
starting to be thought of as the "Shia crescent."
 
At present, Iran's military capabilities are not impressive -- a
result, in part, of the U.S. embargo on sales of spare parts to the
Iranian air force (largely equipped with American aircraft during the
reign of the former Shah). But Iran has acquired submarines and other
modern weapons from Russia and has developed a ballistic missile
capability -- probably with help from North Korea and China. Were it
ever to succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons, it would indeed become a
formidable regional power, possibly calling into question America's
projected military domination of the Gulf. It is for this reason more
than any other that Washington is so determined to block its
acquisition of nuclear arms.
 
While both Russia and China claim to be opposed to such a development,
they certainly wouldn't view it with the same degree of dread and fury
as does the Bush administration -- a consideration that has no doubt
given added impetus to its drive to block Iran's nuclear efforts.
 
Above all, of course, Iran possesses the world's second largest
reserves of petroleum -- an estimated 132 billion barrels (11.1% of the
world's known reservoirs); and also the second largest reserves of
natural gas -- 971 trillion cubic feet (15.3% of known reservoirs). The
Iranians may possess less oil than the Saudis and less gas than the
Russians, but no other country controls so much of both of these vital
resources. Many states including China, India, Japan, and the European
Union countries already depend on Iran for significant shares of their
petroleum supplies; and China and the others have been busy negotiating
deals to develop, and then draw on, its mammoth natural gas reserves.
Iran will not only remain a major energy supplier, but also one of the
few that has the capacity -– with the right kind of investment -- to
substantially boost its output in the years ahead when many other
sources of oil and gas will have gone into decline.
 
In 1953, after the CIA helped oust Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh,
who had nationalized the Iranian oil industry, American energy firms
came to play a commanding role in Iran's oil industry with the blessing
of the Shah. This remained true until he fell in the Khomeini
revolution of 1979. They would no doubt love to return to Iran, if
given the opportunity; but Washington's hostility to the Islamic regime
in Tehran now precludes their reentry. Under Executive Order 12959,
signed by President Clinton in 1995 and renewed by President Bush, all
U.S. companies are barred from operating in Iran. But should "regime
change" ever occur there -- the implied objective of U.S. policy --
this Executive Order would be lifted and U.S. firms would be able to do
what Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and other firms are now doing,
exploiting Iranian energy supplies. Just how much energy figures into
the administration's desire for political change in Iran cannot be
fully judged from the outside, but given the close ties Bush, Cheney,
and other key administration officials have with the U.S. energy
industry, it is hard to believe that it doesn't play a highly
significant one.
 
For China's energy plans, Iran's "pariah" status has certainly been a
boon. Because U.S. firms are barred from investing and European
companies face American economic penalties if they do so (under the
congressionally mandated Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996), Chinese
companies have had a relatively open playing field as they shop for
promising energy deals like the $50 billion one signed in 2004 to
develop the massive Yadavaran gas field and to buy 10 million tons of
Iranian liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually for 25 years.
 
Russia, unlike energy-desperate China, is practically drowning in oil
and natural gas, but has an abiding interest in not seeing energy-rich
neighboring Iran fall under the sway of the U.S. and, as a major
supplier of nuclear equipment and technology, also has a special
interest in lending a profitable hand to Iran's energy establishment.
The Russians are completing the construction of a civilian nuclear
reactor at Bushehr in southwest Iran, a $1 billion project, and are
eager to sell more reactors and other nuclear energy systems to the
Iranians. This, of course, is a source of considerable frustration to
Washington, which seeks to isolate Tehran and prevent it from receiving
any nuclear technology. (Although an entirely civilian project, Bushehr
would no doubt be on the target list for any American air attack
intended to cripple Iran's nuclear capacity.) Nevertheless, the head of
the Russian nuclear energy agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, announced in
February, "We don't see any political obstacles to completing Bushehr"
and bringing it on line "in the swiftest possible period."
 
Given what is at stake, it is easy to see why the United States,
Russia, and China all have such an abiding interest in the outcome of
the Iranian crisis. For Washington, the replacement of the clerical
government in Tehran with a U.S.-friendly regime would represent a
colossal, threefold accomplishment: It would eliminate a major threat
to America's continued dominance of the Persian Gulf, open up the
world's number two oil-and-gas supplier to American energy firms, and
greatly diminish Chinese and Russian influence in the greater Gulf
region.
 
From a geopolitical perspective, there could be no greater win on the
global chessboard today. Even if Washington failed to achieve regime
change but, using its military might, crippled Iran's nuclear
establishment without sustaining major damage itself in Iraq or
elsewhere, this would still be a significant geopolitical win, exposing
the inability of either Russia or China to counter American moves of
this sort. (This would only work, of course, if the Bush administration
was able to contain the inevitable fallout from such action, whether
increased ethnic strife in Iraq or a sharp spike in oil prices.)
 
Not surprisingly, Moscow and Beijing are doing everything in their
power to prevent any American geopolitical triumph in Iran or Central
Asia from occurring, though without provoking an outright breach in
relations with Washington -- and so endangering complex economic ties
with the United States.
 
As this grand geopolitical "Great Game" unfolds, with the potential
economic well-being of the planet at stake, all sides are trying to
line up allies wherever possible, using whatever diplomatic levers are
available. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. position in
both the Persian Gulf and Central Asia has noticeably deteriorated. At
present, the Bush administration's greatest weakness remains the schism
in U.S.-European relations created by the unilateral U.S. invasion
itself. Because the Europeans felt betrayed by that action, they have
largely refrained from helping out either in the counterinsurgency
effort in Iraq or in funding the reconstruction of the country. This
has imposed a ghastly and mounting cost on the United States. Fearing a
repetition of this fiasco in Iran, the White House has clearly decided
to let the diplomatic process play out on the Iranian crisis in a way
they refused to do when it came to Saddam's Iraq. So, within limits,
they are letting the Europeans set the diplomatic game plan for
"resolving" the nuclear dispute.
 
This, in turn, has given Moscow and Beijing their one obvious option
for averting what could be a geopolitical disaster for them in Iran:
the potential use of a Security Council veto to block the imposition of
U.S.-threatened sanctions on Iran under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter,
which could legitimize not only such sanctions but also the use of
force against any state deemed to pose a threat to international peace.
The Europeans want to prevent such a vote from occurring -- knowing
that any "failure" at the UN might only strengthen the arguments of the
hawks in Washington who want to move unilaterally and by force against
Iran. As a result, they are listening to the Russians and Chinese who
insist on relying on diplomacy -- and nothing else -- to resolve the
crisis, however long that takes.
 
"Russia believes that the sole solution for this problem will be based
on the work of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency],"said the
Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, in March. Very similar
statements have been issued by Chinese officials, who have expressly
ruled out force as an acceptable solution to the crisis. In February,
for instance, the Chinese Ambassador to the IAEA, Wu Hailongon, called
on "all relevant parties to exercise restraint and patience" and
"refrain from any action that might further complicate or deteriorate
the situation."
 
Checkmate for Whom?
 
That all key parties see this unfolding crisis as part of a larger
geopolitical struggle is beyond doubt. For example, the Russians and
Chinese have begun to create something of a counter-bloc to the United
States in Central Asia, using the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
(SCO) as a vehicle. Originally established by Moscow and Beijing to
combat ethnic separatism in Central Asia, the SCO -- now including
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan -- has become more
like a regional security organization, a sort of mini-NATO (but also an
anti-NATO). Clearly, the Russians and the Chinese hope that it will
help them turn back U.S. influence in the energy-rich former Islamic
territories of the old Soviet Union, and in this it has shown -- in
Uzbekistan, at least -- some signs of realpolitik success. At a recent
meeting of the organization, the current members went so far as to
invite Iran to join as an observer -- to the obvious displeasure of
Washington. "It strikes me as passing strange," Secretary Rumsfeld
opined recently in Singapore, "that one would want to bring into an
organization that says it's against terrorism... the leading terrorist
nation in the world: Iran."
 
At the same time, the United States has sought to line up its own
allies -- including south Asian wildcard, India -- for a possible
military confrontation with Iran. Even though Bush insists that he's
prepared to rely on diplomacy to resolve the crisis, Pentagon officials
have sought the assistance of NATO in planning air strikes against
Iranian nuclear facilities. In March, for example, the head of NATO's
Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, General Axel Tuttelmann,
indicated that his force was ready to assist American forces at the
very onset of a U.S. attack on Iran. The German press has also reported
that former CIA director Peter Goss visited Turkey late last year to
request that country's assistance in conducting air strikes against
Iran.
 
Despite continuing calls for diplomacy to prevail, all sides in this
wider struggle recognize that the current situation cannot last
forever. For one thing, the shaky position of the Bush administration
-- politically at home, in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in its
attempts to secure geopolitical advantage in Central Asia, and
economically at a global level -- continues to develop fissures and to
embolden those countries, Iran included, which might frustrate its
desires. To top Bush officials, still dreaming of global energy
hegemony, the situation may seem increasingly perilous, but the window
to act may also appear in danger of closing. Their appetite for
European, Chinese, or Russian stalling tactics, no less Iranian
intransigence, may not be great; and, however much Moscow and Beijing
try to persuade the Iranians to back down on nuclear matters, thereby
averting American military action, their influence in Tehran may not
prove strong enough.
 
If, in the coming few months, Iran rejects U.S. demands for the
complete and permanent termination of its nuclear enrichment
activities, the United States will certainly insist on the imposition
of sanctions at the UN. If, in turn, the Security Council (with the
acquiescence of Russia and China) adopts purely symbolic gestures to no
visible effect, Washington will then demand tougher sanctions under
Chapter 7; and if either Russia or China vetoes such measures, the Bush
administration will almost certainly choose to use military means
against Iran, playing out Moscow's and Beijing's worst fears.
 
Russia and China can thus be expected to stretch out the diplomatic
process for as long as possible, hoping thereby to make military action
by the United States appear illegitimate to the Europeans and others.
By the same token, the hawks in Washington will undoubtedly become
increasingly impatient with the delays -- viewing them as rear-guard
strategic moves by Russia and China -- and so will push for military
action by the end of this year if nothing has been accomplished by then
on the diplomatic front.
 
As the crisis over Iran unfolds, most of the news commentary will
continue to focus on the war of words between Washington and Tehran.
Political insiders understand, however, that the most significant
struggle is the one that remains just out of sight, pitting Washington
against Moscow and Beijing in the battle for global influence and
energy domination. From this perspective, Iran is just one battlefield
-- however significant -- in a far larger, more long-lasting, and
momentous contest.
 
 
Michael T. Klare is the Professor of Peace and World Security Studies
at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Blood and Oil:
The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on
Imported Petroleum (Owl Books) as well as Resource Wars, The New
Landscape of Global Conflict.

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----

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