Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stratfor, George Friedman argue that a resolution between the US and Iran may be possible

Gary Sick was earlier. Here George Friedman of Stratfor presents an argument that it may be possible for the Obama administration and Iran to reach some agreement that reduces tensions. Again I disagree, but I'll be wrong when I see an indication that the US is willing to abandon its policy that Iran must not be able to acquire legal nuclear weapons capabilities like those Japan, Brazil and many other countries have.

For structural reasons, I don't think that is possible. It would be very difficult for Iran to both have legal nuclear weapons capabilities and to be a weak enough power to fit into the US' objective for a balance of artificially weak powers in the region.

George Friedman presents a scenario where the US wants three things regarding the Persian Gulf: 1) that the US does not have to directly intervene 2) that there is no disruption to the flow of oil 3) that Iran not become more powerful.

Iran wants three things: 1) Reduction in the US presence in the Persian Gulf, 2) Recognition as a major power in the region 3) An arrangement of some sort that shifts more Gulf oil revenues to Iran.

For Friedman, the nuclear issue in itself is not important while negotiations somehow or other can resolve the US' differences with Iran over their differences.

If Friedman was right and these were the US' and Iran's primary objectives, then other than the US' third, these objectives are complementary. All the US has to do to ensure free flow of oil is stop increasing tension with Iran. The US could accommodate all three of Friedman's supposed Iranian objections without harming its own objectives if it papers over the objective of Iran not becoming more powerful.

It is not clear from Friedman why Iran not being powerful would be a first order objective for the US.

What Friedman misses is that the constraint the US' commitment to Israel puts on US policy in its region. I've talked about why the US' commitment to Israel led to the US' intervention in Iraq.
A balance of powers could have been accomplished without an invasion of Iraq. A balance of powers could be accomplished without the expensive current attempt to economically isolate Iran.

A balance of very weak powers. Subject to the constraint that none of the powers is strong enough to threaten Israel is much more expensive to emplace and maintain. The US does it for emotional reasons, but will stop when the costs become too high. But the cost of maintaining that constraint is part of the cost of US support for Israel.

US policy in the Middle East is driven by oil and the strategic implications of a large amount of that resource that is concentrated in the region. But the US has accepted, for reasons that have nothing to do with pure strategy, a strategic priority in protecting Israel's status as a Jewish state that imposes heavy and costly constraints on that policy.
In short, balance of power is easy. Balance of power where none of the balanced powers prevents Israel from being viable as an enforced Jewish political majority state is much more difficult.

That difficulty alone explains why it is a US objective that Iran not be powerful.

As an aside, many Westerners have convinced themselves that the Arab world is prepared to accept Israel in the context of a two-state solution. I've talked about this before, but it is interesting to discuss the polls that supposedly support this idea. Western pollsters like to go to Arab and Muslim populations and ask: "If Israel retreats to the 1967 borders, accepts the Palestinian refugees and resolves other issues to the Palestinians' satisfaction, would you accept Israel?"

That's a complicated question, huh? Not the simpler, more relevant and more direct "Do you consider Israel a legitimate country". Readers Digest asked that question of Iranians in 2006. But I guess Western pollsters have learned their lesson. I've never seen the results of that poll question asked of a Middle Eastern population publicly released since. Populations that, unlike Iran's, are Arab and majority Sunni can be presumed to be even less likely to consider Israel legitimate.

Question 18: Level of Agreement - The state of Israel is illegitimate and should not exist
Strong disagreement: 3.9%
Mild disagreement: 4.6% (Total disagree, 8.5%)
Neutral: 21.1%
Mild agreement: 14.6%
Strong agreement: 51.9% (Total agree, 66.5%)
But Israel has never offered to retreat to the 1967 borders or accept the Palestinian refugees. What the Arab populations that are being polled are being asked is an impossible and irrelevant hypothetical. When Israel's actual conditions, that Israel keep some of the territory and that the right of refugees to return be limited, are added, even the supposed majority that supports two states always disappears. But what this question does is allows Westerners to continue to feel justified in terms of their own moral systems as they support Zionism, which is the whole point. Westerners fooling other Westerners who willingly go along. I guess interesting to observe, nothing to actually take seriously.

So anyway, Friedman seriously underestimates the deepness of the dispute between the United States and Iran. Iran cannot agree to remain a weak enough state to fit into the US weak balance of power that Israel requires to remain viable. Until the US removes that constraint on its regional policy, it will be in opposition to Iran and to any and every independent, which is to say non-colonial, state in the region.


Lidia said...

 "If Israel retreats to the 1967 borders, accepts the Palestinian refugees and resolves other issues to the Palestinians' satisfaction, would you accept Israel?"

This question is really nonsense, because the asking person clearly see  "Palestinians' satisfaction " as something compatible with Zionist colonization of Palestine. Only puppets could agree with such proposition. 

And, of course,  "accepts the Palestinian refugees" for Israel is about as much plausible as Obama coming to live TV and proclaiming himself unworthy of Nobel Peace prize :) Zionism is about colonization of Palestinian land WITHOUT Palestinians. Zionists want to get rid even from the Palestinians who are still not ethnic cleansed, never mind return of refuges, which would be a clear end of Zionist colonization project.

Of course, if asking person uses words DM-like, s/he could mean "force refuges to admit their defeat and banish any hope for return.

"Borders 1967" is a bit different scum, because at least SOME Zionists prefer at least pretend they could agree to it. But it is just as impossible to Zionists to do it (really, without "buts") and still retain  the viable colony as to agree to Palestinian refuges return.

So, Arnold, the question's real meaning is "If Israel remain a colony on Palestinian land while finally  forcing Palestinians to desist, would you accept it and quit demand a justice for Palestinians? And the most favorable understood meaning is "If Israel were to  stop being a Zionist colony, would you accept it"? All else is a smoke and mirrors. 

Arnold Evans said...

Question for you, Lidia:  I skimmed Obama's state of the union speech.  It didn't strike me as too interesting, he stayed mostly on domestic issues, more China-bashing than I expected and about Iran only that it will be better if Iran avoids war by meeting its obligations, meaning submits to an indefinite suspension of enrichment, which is very unlikely to happen.

Do you think the speech is worth a post? I'm not sure.

Lidia said...

Arnold, I admit that I only have read reviews of this speech. Of course, Obama speech could not be interesting in meaningful way. But I am sure you still could use it to point to something important and new for others (at least for some of them). 

I could add that Obama bragging TWICE about assassination of Bin Laden is a sad, but a telling detail. After all, even Andy Borowitz could find nothing to really base his support of Obama on but this "feat" of him. The freak show of Republican candidates is virtually impossible to tell from Obama (Ron Paul does have some difference, but it is not here not there), so the only advantage of Obama even for his faithful and quite intelligent supporter is that Obama HAS murdered somebody, while his rivals has not (yet)

Dermot Moloney said...

"that Obama HAS murdered somebody, while his rivals has not (yet)"
Murder implies that it was an illegal killing, but such as issue is debatable on the grounds that bin laden was the head of a militant group at war with the us. Overall there is a mixed consensus about it but the argument that is was legal is quite compelling.

Dermot Moloney said...

"As an aside, many Westerners have convinced themselves that the Arab world is prepared to accept Israel in the context of a two-state solution."
This is the findings of one of the more recent polls from brookings where most arabs are willing to make peace with israel if the two state solution can come about.

Unfortunately and understandably they are sceptical of it occurring. Only a minority believe that a war would achieve such a thing, they are likely right about this. 

Arnold Evans said...

Lidia, it's fine. He just wants anything to argue about. It's not worth your attention.

Dermot Moloney said...

Whats wrong with exchanging viewpoints and opinions, isnt that the point of having a comments section?

Lidia said...

Arnold, thank you, but I admit, recently I always specially use some words just to provoke a bit DM. His passion for "legalistic"  defense of  murders by USA prez shows his true colors quite clearly. 

Somehow it reminds me about one OWS protester in LA charged with "lynching". Of course, he was not murdering a  helpless Black, he was trying to defend a fellow protester from LA police brutality. The "rule of law" is really something that me, a  product of "communist totalitarian" upbringing  never could get :(

Dermot Moloney said...

His passion for "legalistic"  defense of  murders by USA prez shows his true colors quite clearly. "

Again lidia the issue is controversial but the argument that it was a legal act is quite compelling, so saying that i support murders isnt accurate.

George Carty said...

Isn't there a good case for treating international terrorists like UBL as hostis humani generis (like pirates in the old days) which can be legitimately killed by the armed forces of any country?

Lidia said...

Isn't here a good case for trying Carter and Bzezinski, godfathers of UBL? Reagan is dead now, and mind you, I am NOT proposing for victims of C and B to  fly into USA  (never mind USA sovereignty), storm their homes and execute them in the presence of their wives. and then let the head of state which has done it proclaim the murder as a greatest achievement of both him and the most noble institution  of the state. 

Of course, UBL was just a small-time CIA asset, and his crimes (still NOT proved by law) are next to nothing if one looks into the crimes of great statesmen of USA and other democracies. Just now Obama is mass-murdering directly and indirectly a lot of people, most of them are even more innocent than victims of 9/11, and some  of them could be guilty of some crimes(albeit still NOT proved), but of much less than your typical USA prez (or French, or UK PM and so on)

Dermot Moloney said...

"Isn't here a good case for trying Carter and Bzezinski, godfathers of

They werent.

UBL was just a small-time CIA asset,"

Bin laden did not work for the cia.

"(still NOT proved by law)"

Al qaeda has been found to have been behind 911.

"Just now Obama is mass-murdering directly and indirectly a lot of people"

Again a murder is an illegal killing, the evidence that obama is doing such a thing isnt compelling.