Saturday, June 11, 2011

Iran versus the US colonies in OPEC

Saturday is the day this blog focuses on Iran. Recent events regarding Iran include the indications of a domestic political dispute between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and the recent announcement that Iran plans to activate the enrichment site at Fordo. Neither of these events has significant medium or long term strategic implications.

Last year at this time it was well known that Iran's domestic political system operates by balancing competing factions, usually with each side of the factional dispute being loyal to the Islamic Republic itself. It was also well known that Iran was expanding its nuclear program, and bringing itself closer to the day that its adversaries in Washington, Tel Aviv and European capitals wake up and find that nobody else is concerned by the idea that though it is an NPT non-weapons state, Iran could build a nuclear weapon if it was forced to leave the NPT about as quickly as Japan, Brazil, Germany, Canada or South Africa could.

There is no recent news of strategic consequence only or even mostly involving Iran. Iran did play a limited role though in the most important regional issue today, pressures on the US' colonial structure in the region.

The relationship in 2011 between the United States and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and several others in the region is not significantly different from the relationship in 1911 between the British Crown and the nominally independent Princely States of the British Raj. The United States maintains this colonial relationship with these popularly unaccountable dictatorships because if these states were ruled by accountable republics, Israel would not be viable.

For example, Saudi Arabia has oil revenues that are ten times as large as Israel's defense budget. With a small population and fewer available resources Israel could not win any regional war if the governments in the region reflected the sensibilities of the people ruled rather than the sensibilities of the US congress. Israel owes its ability to continue as a politically majority Jewish state - its ability to avoid the fate of politically majority White South Africa - to the continuation of what Eric Margolis describes as the American Raj in its region.

Barack Obama says that sometimes US policy will not be perfectly aligned with what he claims are US values because the US commitment to Israel requires the United States to be a colonial power over hundreds of millions of people just as much as a century ago Great Britain was the paramountcy over the same region and much more of Asia and Africa. Obama's willingness to rhetorically and materially defend this colonial structure, to play a modern black-skinned Cecil Rhodes is for me the single most disappointing aspect of his presidency.

But anyway, three US colonies, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE, are important members of OPEC and represent the interests of the United States in that organization. Barack Obama will win re-election if and only if the US economy has noticeably recovered by summer 2012. Low oil prices make that more likely. The civil war the US escalated in Libya for no strategic reason at all has taken much of Libya's oil supply out of the market and the colonies have been tasked with insulating Obama from political consequences for that by making up for any shortfall.

To the degree that they can, the colonies are going to follow their orders, but they will do so without the cover of an OPEC agreement to increase supplies. What this means is that by failing to spread their efforts to help Obama to independent countries, the colonies are using their own resources and coming closer to the day that they will not be able to make up for any shortfall.

Iran, along with Venezuela and others are leading OPEC away from the leadership of the US colonies and thereby slightly decreasing the legitimacy of moves taken by those colonies on behalf of the US. It is not much, but until Egypt's elections, there probably will not be much news that has significant strategic impact in the Middle East.


George Carty said...

Why exactly does Israel need an "American Raj" to stay in business? Isn't the threat of the Samson Option enough?

Arnold Evans said...

Isn't the threat of the Samson Option enough?

Oh. Absolutely not. Really a Samson Option wouldn't even work unless there is an American/Zionist Raj in place. It is really effectively a tiny to non-existent part of Israel's ability to remain viable.

Just as it didn't work for South Africa.

1) It is not true that Jewish Israelis would rather see their country destroyed than give up their Jewish political majority.

2) Nobody believes it is true that Jewish Israelis would make that choice.

Independent Arab states would quickly and would have already developed at least nuclear threshold status in the face of Israel's latent nuclear threat against them. Preventing that natural strategic response requires an American/Zionist Raj.

In the face of that, Jews in Israel are rational human beings who would, like all rational human beings, prefer the dissolution of a political structure that favors them to their deaths, even if in their death they would be able to take some or some other people out with them.

A Samson Option is easy to counter if there is no American/Zionist Raj in place and it is unnecessary if there is an American/Zionist Raj.

Honestly, it represents a waste of money and energy and diplomatic resources for Israel's patron the United States.

Israel's nuclear force has no strategic value. Any value it has may be psychological for a population scarred and feeling powerless because of the Holocaust.

Some people wrongly believe that Israel's nuclear capabilities played some role in 1973. Egypt at that time did not have conventional capabilities to defeat Israel outside of a narrow area where Soviet SAMs could neutralize Israel/US' air superiority.

If it had, Egyptian tanks may well have rolled into Tel Aviv.

It did not because Egypt did not have resources available to match those of Israel in building a conventional force. If the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia had been independent it certainly would have.

The short answer is that for Israel's viability, a Samson Option, its nuclear capability - is nothing. An American/Zionist Raj - the fact that key Arab governments are accountable to the US rather than to their own people - is everything.

George Carty said...

Just as it didn't work for South Africa.

The Apartheid regime in South Africa only managed to develop free-fall nuclear bombs delivered by aircraft. These would have been useful if they had only been facing weak African opposition, but they would have been useless if they had been facing major-power opposition, as they could easily have been shot down before they reached their targets.

By contrast, Israel has ballistic nuclear missiles, a weapon against which even mighty America has no defense. The only possible countermeasure would be for Iran to develop nuclear missiles and give them to Hezbollah to first-strike the Israeli nuclear arsenal.

This is just about possible (as Lebanon is close enough to Israel that the missiles could impact before the Israelis could get their own missiles off), but is extremely unlikely. Even Iran would be unlikely to supply nuclear weapons to a non-state proxy, and who's to say that Israel won't have switched to submarine-based nuclear weapons by then, thus rendering the whole idea moot?

1) It is not true that Jewish Israelis would rather see their country destroyed than give up their Jewish political majority.

What if they believe that if they lose their political domination of Palestine, then they will be exterminated anyway by the vengeful Arabs? In that situation, "take the bastards with us" is the rational thing to do.

I've even seen some pro-Zionists argue that Iran would gladly commit national suicide if they could take the Israelis with them.

A Samson Option is easy to counter if there is no American/Zionist Raj in place and it is unnecessary if there is an American/Zionist Raj.

How exactly, assuming that the Muslims do not have a working ballistic missile defense system? (Which as I said, has so far been beyond even the United States, let alone relatively backward Muslim countries.)

George Carty said...

Oops and another difference between Israel and Apartheid South Africa as well:

The economy of Apartheid South Africa could be described as "Peronism for whites, paid for by black semi-slavery" (one could also draw comparisons with Dubai and other Gulf states, with their ruthlessly exploited immigrant workers). The white South Africans couldn't expel or exterminate the blacks, because they needed the labor which they black population provided.

Israel isn't similarly dependent on Palestinian labor.

Arnold Evans said...

Israel's nuclear arsenal would be neutralized by the ability and intention, anywhere in the anti-Zionist world, to retaliate for an Israeli strike by destroying Israel.

Preventing that ability and intention from credibly forming requires an American/Zionist Raj.

George Carty said...

If one or more Middle Eastern Muslim countries developed nuclear weapons, this would most likely prevent any further aggressive wars launched by Israel.

It wouldn't give them the ability to end Zionism itself though.

Remember that Israel is the status-quo power, while the anti-Zionist Arab states are the revisionist powers here...

Arnold Evans said...

That's an entirely different question from whether or not the Sampson option is enough. The answer to the original question is that Israel's nuclear capabilities are not only not enough, but they are hardly relevant to maintaining Zionism if there was no American/Zionist Raj in the region.

A new question: If there was no American/Zionist Raj would Zionism otherwise be viable, apart from the uselessness of its nuclear capabilities?

My answer is no. The states with anti-Zionist populations have more than enough resources to overwhelm Israel in arms races while providing enough support to Palestinians that the Palestinians could make Israel an inhospitable place to live for a substantial number of Jews who either live there or are making the decision of whether or not to live there.

For Israel to continue, it needs the American/Zionist Raj to continue more or less like it is.

The leadership of the United States, disappointingly including Barack Obama, knows this and talks around it and tries to misdirect the discussion about it but Zionism means to keep hundreds of millions of people in the region living under pro-US colonial dictatorships.

You can't have one without the other.

When US leaders officials and citizens say they support Israel, that is what they support.

George Carty said...

If Israel has enough nuclear weapons to destroy all anti-Zionist countries then it doesn't matter how many nuclear weapons the anti-Zionists have.

And if the Palestinian threat to Israel became too great, then Israel could exterminate the Palestinians on its own territory, and threaten to nuke any country which intervenes to stop it.

George Carty said...

Or was your question "If there was no American/Zionist Raj would Zionism otherwise be viable, if nuclear weapons didn't exist?"

If so, then the answer is of course No.

Arnold Evans said...


Israel cannot maintain the ability to accomplish first strikes against every anti-Zionist state that could and would devise retaliatory options if there was no American/Zionist Raj.

Once there is a substantial chance that any nuclear attack would lead to the nuclear destruction of Israel, and there would be relatively quickly, then Israel's nuclear weapons would be neutralized.

(The same way Russia, and even China have, for purposes of any potential direct conflict with the United States, neutralized the US' nuclear weapons.)

Israel's current lead over the potential anti-Zionist states is an artifact of the American/Zionist Raj. It is not the result of any inherent Israeli advantage over its potential adversaries.

If Israel did not have a tremendous nuclear lead, which it wouldn't without the American/Zionist Raj, then its nuclear weapons would serve it no useful purpose. For Israel, it would effectively be as if its nuclear weapons didn't exist.

Which would lead us to your next statement:

"If there was no American/Zionist Raj would Zionism otherwise be viable, if nuclear weapons didn't exist?"

If so, then the answer is of course No.

George Carty said...

Russia and China haven't neutralized the US's nuclear weapons though.

Russia's and China's nuclear weapons impose limits on American military action (for example, they deterred the US from invading North Vietnam during the Vietnam War), but they would not enable Russia or China to successfully invade the United States itself, even if they had overwhelming superiority over the United States in conventional forces.

George Carty said...

For further reading, look at Stuart Slade's Nuclear Warfare 101.