Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If the US wants confrontation, the US is going to get confrontation

The United States' response to the agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey is to rush a resolution to the full body of the UN Security Council.
“We have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee. “We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today. And let me say, Mr. Chairman, I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide.”
OK. She's right that it is as convincing as anything the US could have done. This is a panicked and amateurish move that positions the United States as a party thirsting for a confrontation with Iran which is trying to give the US ways to avoid a confrontation.

From this position, Iran adds to its assets a moral advantage. If the United States is really irrationally hostile, then maybe Iran is right that the US should be forced out of the region. The moral element is not as important as tangible factors, but it does have a role. People have to choose which side to be on and they have to justify their decisions to themselves.

When Barack Obama failed to hold Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in check to prevent a move like this, he proved that he does not have the strength to chart an independent foreign policy for the United States, which proves that Iranian attempts at reducing tension can only be fruitless while he is in office.

The United States really is lurching back and forth in its foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is working hard to convince Iran that open confrontation with the US is just something Iran has to accept until Obama is out of office. If that's the case, Iran will make it as difficult and expensive as possible for the US to achieve any of its objectives in the region.


Lysander said...

With the new UNSC proposal being circulated, I no longer have any idea what will happen. I still think war is unlikely, but no longer impossible. If the US is not acting rationally, or if its actions are based on the interests of another party, then we cannot predict rational and self interested decisions.

It seems that elements in the US government fully expect and probably want Iran to retaliate against US interests and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. At which point the accusations of Iran killing our troops will fly. Slogans along the lines of "they are already at war with us" will echo until finally war becomes plausible, then 'logical' even if at a great cost.

This is all intended purely for Israel's interests. It does not matter what the costs to the US are. Actually it may not matter if Iran manages to survive and build nukes later. A US attack will be so damaging to Iran's infrastructure that it will never be able to compete with Israel. That is certainly the outcome Israel is hoping for.

Why Russia or China would go along with this, just one day after praising the Swap deal, I just don't understand. Although China has often been said to be supportive of a sanctions deal when it was not.

masoud said...

Astute observations as always, Arnold.

What I can't decide is if Hillary is determined to destroy Obama's credibility so she can run against him in 2012 as the republican nominee, or whether it's Obama who's set on keeping a lunatic like Hillary as the head of the State Department in order to expose the insanity of the AIPAC crowd, so maybe he has a chance of appointing more realists like Brezinski or Gates or Baker to his 2012 cabinet. Seriously, I think Clinton has been worse for US foreign policy than Avidgor Lieberman has been for Israeli foreign policy, and that's saying something! Maybe their both in on it together? Accounting for such incompetence really is difficult. I have trouble believing people can be so stupid. Unfortunately the rule is I'm usually wrong.

Resolutions pass the fifteen member Security Council by two thirds affirmative vote. Iran needs seven negative votes/abstentions to defeat a resolution. China's not going to support sanctions, neither is Turkey or Brazil or Lebanon. Given this state of affairs, Russia would probably feel embarrassed voting with the US/Europe and would abstain just to avoid being seen as part of that cabal in the eyes of the NAM.
So that's four or five to the western core of the US, France, GB. Also on the council and sympathetic to the US' position are Austria, Japan, Mexico, although the former two have important trade with Iran they don't want to see disrupted. So let's say six to four with Russia as a wild card. That puts the the decision in the hands of Nigeria, Gabon, Uganda, and Bosnia-Herzogovina.

Africa is in general sympathetic to Iran. Iran has growing economic ties to Nigeria who's newly elected president(fella goes by the name of 'Goodluck') is a bit of a come-out of nowhere wild card. On the other hand Nigeria also has very important relations with the US and western oil companies, though these companies aren't in favor of sanctions on Iran, they want a piece of the pie. Nigeria has taken some rhetorical positions that seem to back Iran's use of Nuclear energy. Iran's overtures to Uganda have been politely received but not exactly reciprocated. Officially the head of that country,Musevni, 'has not been following the issue' and 'still wants to hear the US side'. Gabon, being as small as it is, is probably in the bag for the US. Iran used to run arms to the Bosnians during the Balkans wars, and has a huge embassy in that country, reportedly it also maintains some significant trade/political/intelligence relationships, though the US does have extensive military presence in that country as well.So it looks like the US can take it, but only just barely(this is all from memory so I could be horribly wrong about some or a lot of this)

masoud said...

If you were the US, would you rush to a vote like this, even if you thought there was a remote possibility that a resolution would pass with only 10 of the fifteen votes, with several dissenting? When every other vote had met at most one abstention? Could you imagine if Iran managed to get six, so that the resolution just barely passed the UNSC? Congratulations, you would have just promoted Iran to your new equal on the world stage. If there was even one in a hundred chance that Iran could get seven and actually defeat the resolution, congress would be justified in impeaching and hanging Clinton. In the last IAEA resolution Malaysia, who was the president of the board at the time found a way to vote in Iran's favor despite the fact that they promised the US otherwise: they made a huge show of summoning back and formally dressed down and firing their rep. to the board after the fact.Iran would be one or two such shenanigans away from dealing a death blow to US credibility on the world stage. That's not even taking into consideration the automatic Chinese veto if that country elects to vote no as opposed to abstain. I mean even if i'm completely off and Iran only gets three abstentions, it would be a historic low for the US. I hope this time I'm wrong about how stupid people can be and the US actually tires something hasty.

If it comes to anything close to a war, Obama would have to deal with a mutiny on his hands to deal with from the highest ranks of the US military. I think we are still a ways off from there.


Arnold Evans said...

Lysander: The United States has not done a lot of things it would have done if the US political system had really been fully captured by Israel or proponents of Israel. The United States did not even break up Iraq.

Obama is inexperienced, naive and easy to manipulate, but he is not rash. A bad move from the Obama administration is the result of a bad calculation, but not a deliberately wild gamble.

Obama calculates that he is pressuring Iran to concede as much as possible. Maybe the target is getting a commitment to refrain from enriching to 20%. Who knows how much impact it will have in what direction, but the US calculations regarding war with Iran are still in place.

Masoud: I really agree. It was such a weird move yesterday. I think we'll start seeing the US try to control the damage. We have to hear from China, Russia, Brazil and Turkey, as well as Iran to have an idea of what this all means.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. I have one question. What is the "Japan Option"?



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