Is Iran out of the US War Queue? The Twilight of the Hawks

The short telephone conversation between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Friday may or may not lead to a successful diplomatic resolution of US-Iranian conflicts, especially over Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program. But if it does, how will the hawks in Washington survive?

The US is an unusually war-like country. Since 1963 it has launched a military action on average every 40 months. It is to the extent that the US is still at war in Afghanistan after 12 years, and many Americans may not even realize it.

Washington hawks always have a war queue, knowing that their campaign supporters in the war industries expect it of them. Iraq was in the war queue in the 1990s. Since the fall of Baghdad in 2003, Iran has been the number one state in the war queue. This is so even though Iran is not a superpower or even a regional power. It hasn’t invaded another country in at least a century and a half. Its annual military budget is on the order of Singapore and Norway. It has a population slightly larger than France.

The point of having an enemies’ list is only in part in order to curb an enemy. It serves to scare the public and rally them around the politicians and make them willing to give up personal liberties or forget about being upset at being ruled on behalf of a handful of large corporations.

Putting a country in the war queue requires demonizing its leader, twisting his words to make him seem aggressive, and exaggerating his capabilities versus the US. Even Nikita Khrushchev, who denounced Stalin’s crimes, was depicted in the US as a menace who pledged, “We will bury you!” What Khrushchev actually had said was, “We’ll still be here when your capitalist system is dead and buried.” He was wrong but he wasn’t threatening to bury anyone. The Soviet Union’s economy was never more than half that of the US, and its military was no match for the American, but Americans were taught to be mortally afraid of the Soviets, what with their challenge to … gasp … the supremacy of private property.

Likewise, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s quotation of an old statement by Ruhollah Khomeini that “The occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” — a hope that Zionism would collapse the way Communism had in 1991, was transformed by American “journalism” into an aggressive threat to wipe Israel off the map. This, despite repeated Iranian assertions that they had a no first strike policy, and that they would never slaughter noncombatants, and despite the laughable character of the proposition that a weak country very distant from Israel could menace it despite Tel Aviv’s stockpile of hundreds of nuclear weapons, and its poison gas and other weapons capabilities. Iran does not have an atomic bomb or chemical weapons.

The significance of Friday’s phone call is that Iran may be removed from the war queue. Current president Hassan Rouhani is harder to demonize than his quirky, populist predecessor. Twenty years of breathless allegations that Iran is 6 months from having an atomic bomb have raised questions about why the Israelis and the American hawks keep being wrong (not to mention, why the kettle is calling the oven black– Israel and the US are nuclear powers but Iran is not).

The Israeli hawks have been promoting Iran as among the top challenges to the West since the early 1990s, aware that the loss of the Soviet Union and then Iraq left them nothing with which to frighten the American public. The Israel lobbies are horrified that they might now lose the Iran bogeyman. Likewise, the US war industries that back right wing senators and congressional representatives are putting their sock puppets such as Lindsey Graham up to seeking authorization for a war on Iran.

The unacknowledged elephant in the room is that Iran was queued because of petroleum, and to a lesser extent because it is among the few remaining rejectionist states toward Israel. But as the US moves to wind and solar electricity and electric and hybrid plug-in cars, petroleum’s value will plummet over the next 20 years. The US is going to be energy independent in 20-30 years, but not via fracked gas and oil, which are relatively expensive. Oil certainly won’t be worth going to war over. The Congressional refusal to authorize a strike on Syria is the writing on the wall here.

Some hawks want to put China in the war queue as a booby prize, but China is a tough sell. It has a nuclear arsenal and so the US can’t just go to war with it. US-China trade is huge and the US needs China. What would Walmart sell if it couldn’t load up on the products of Communist China? Even just alienating Beijing by talking about it as an enemy is difficult in today’s world.

Without a demonized enemy number 1, how will hawks win election campaigns? How will they scare the public into letting them suspend the constitution and our civil liberties? How will they convince the public to let Congress spend billions on their industrial cronies? Maybe they won’t be able to.

61 Responses

  1. +++Some hawks want to put China in the war queue as a booby prize, but China is a tough sell. It has a nuclear arsenal and so the US can’t just go to war with it. US-China trade is huge and the US needs China. What would Walmart sell if it couldn’t load up on the products of Communist China? Even just alienating Beijing by talking about it as an enemy is difficult in today’s world.+++

    Juan, you need to turn your eagle eye to what’s happening in Asia. This kind of writing is maddening; it shows how the outdated Cold War mentality on the Left, still dead on when talking about the Middle East or Russia, is hindering understanding of what’s happening in Asia. The situation is really the opposite of what you’re saying. Two things need to be understood

    1. US elites adore China and want to make money off it. Beijing has a massive influence over US policy, since so many commentators, observers, analysts, and government officials have links to the China treasury chest. See Silverstein’s 2008 article “The Mandarins” in Harpers. In the Obama Administration at least a half dozen high ranking officials, including Obama’s Asia guy, Jeff Bader, the vice WH chief of staff Mona Sutphen, and others, came out of the very quiet firm Stonebridge, which has massive consulting interests in China. Chas Freeman, who got in so much trouble over his Israel positions and thankfully missed his NIE directorship, has long-term business and personal links to China. See also things like the Sanya Initiative, and certain commentators who are famous for their stands on human rights and rule of law in China, items which cost Beijing nothing, but strangely never criticize its territorial expansion, its desire to annex Taiwan, and its links to US corporate power. Why? Well, they have consulting and law offices in China…. Hence the US government is, if anything, downplaying the China threat.

    2. Despite this, China is doing its level best to foment war on its borders. All of the claims it is currently arguing go back centuries are actually post 1940, Taiwan was not claimed until the early 1940s, the claim to the Senkaku Islands did not appear until 1971, the claim to the South China Sea was first made in 1947, the claim to India’s Arunachal Pradesh has a similar pedigree. They are purely modern expansionist claims and have no basis in history, the result of modern China trying to inflate itself out to the old Qing borders — exactly as if Ankara claimed it owned Bulgaria, Jordan, and Algeria because the Ottomans once did.

    THUS: Many US elites would like to sell out Taiwan and Japan to make love to Beijing and snarf up its trade and money-making opportunities and enrich themselves. But Beijing, frequently compared to WWI Germany (with the US as the UK) is more like 17th century France, an empire struggling to become a state and to “rectify” its borders by expanding them (France too invented bogus claims to its neighbors’ territories). Beijing’s nationalism and expansionism isn’t going to let those elites loot China the way they looted the US, and appears through its massive military expansion to be bent on war with Japan over the Senkakus, with the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia over the South China Sea, and with India over Arunachal Pradesh. Taiwan will probably be first but Beijing does seem rather bent on war with Japan. Note that the US is Taiwan’s protector and has formal defense treaties with Japan and Manila. Note also that Japan’s air defense zones extend south past Taiwan, because it owns so many islands in the area. It will be difficult for Beijing to hit Taiwan w/o involving Japan.

    Hence despite the fact that so many American elites are Beijing-owned, Beijing’s own expansionist policy is undercutting their desire to sell out Asia to China for big consulting and trade bucks. This situation has led to an odd reversal of roles — its the conservatives and hawks and neocons who are right on China — recall that many neocons started out as Asia hands — and the dems, liberals, and progressives who, weirdly, support Beijing. As a progressive, I am constantly embarrassed by the flow of utterly stupid articles on China and Taiwan in, say The Nation (like Eli Clifton’s recent “The Secret Foreign Donor…” or Bob Scheer’s inexcusable “Taiwan Declares Peace on China”), and even more mortified by the fact that democratic Taiwan has simply dropped off American progressive radar screens (my neocon friends laugh knowingly at my attempts to get progressives to wake up to Taiwan).

    And if you don’t think China is serious about this, you can explain that to the Tibetans and Uighurs.

    Michael
    The View from Taiwan

    • China is becoming a great power. Great powers assert a sphere of influence in their region. This is nothing new.

      None of this is the business of the US and certainly not worth going to war over. The other Asian countries are certainly economically capable of supporting a military deterrent against China, but the US taxpayers can no longer afford to do it for them I’m afraid.

      Best of luck.

    • I am utterly embarrassed by the shallowness of this attempt to gin up the war drums against Bejing. While no one should doubt that China is a colonialist, imperialist power, the US is much, Much moreso, a small, trifling detail this screed somehow overlooks. Is it in China’s interest to destroy its economic interests with its three major regional trading partners – Taiwan, Japan, and India? Let’s just ignore that inconvenient reality. If you are the progressive you claim you are, why are you trumpeting the traditional fear line the neo-cons and their plutocratic handlers use to squander the nation’s resources on pointless wars of aggression? China has much bigger fish to fry – it’s ecosystem is down the toilet and it knows it.

      • I, on the other hand, am utterly embarrassed by the shallowness of your response. “”Is it in China’s interest to destroy its economic interests with its three major regional trading partners – Taiwan, Japan, and India?”” Define ‘interest’ and you can answer that question. The truth of history is that nations act against their international economic interests in the service of the domestic nationalism and ideologies. See both world wars, for example.

        Yes, I really am a progressive, and as a progressive, I’m really tired of mindless, robotic, “progressive” responses uninformed by either history or local knowledge that simply trot out, religiously, the old line that you’re not a progressive if you happen to hold the same position that the hawks do on China and you don’t constantly emphasize the demonic heinousness of the US. History is what it is, not what you or I want it to be. At the moment roughly 1500 missiles are pointed at Taiwan. Chinese ships recently finished building a boom and chain across Scarborough Shoal, where they evicted Filipino fisherman from their traditional fishing grounds. They’ve been playing footsie with India in the Himal — one of the world’s great unknown flashpoints — and have massively ramped up troops and infrastructure there (they claim a whole Indian state on the grounds that its majority Tibetan inhabitants are “chinese”). They constantly push Japan in the Senkakus, to which they invented claims in 1971, and recently sent a UAV over the area for the first time. Manila and Tokyo have formal defense treaties with the US. I know there’s a kind of doctrinaire progressivism that balks at imagining that there might be a problem in the world not caused by the US, but I don’t subscribe to it. Lots and lots of people out here quietly believe that there is going to be a major war. Over what, no one can say. But war is coming, a war not of American making, and burying your head in some kind of uninformed ideological sand won’t make it go away.

        I welcome you to move out here and live a decade (I’m in my 25th year in Taiwan). Everyone out here can see what is going to happen. The nations around China’s periphery are all arming themselves, and it isn’t against the hegemonic dominance of the US. It’s because China claims their territories and intends to enforce those claims by military force even though it certainly doesn’t need to; it has access to everything it needs. Remember Japan? It was obtaining everything it needed by peaceful trade. The western powers were happy to let it run rampant in China. Had it never invaded the colonies of western powers by grabbing French Vietnam, triggering the oil embargo, which led its mad militarists to attempt to start a massive war against all three of the four largest imperial powers on earth when their own natural resources minister told them if they just lay low, they could have coal-to-oil programs giving them all the oil they needed — had they not been so stupid, they might still be running Japan today (some like van Wolferen would argue they more or less are). China is in exactly the same position. It is massively expanding its military and yet it has no trouble obtaining the resources it needs from world markets. US elites have been happy to assist its entry into the US-dominated world system and enrich themselves by doing so. It’s the Chinese themselves who will prevent that.

        Michael Turton
        The View from Taiwan

  2. WE the ordinary people in Pakistan and Afghanistan are bearing the brunt of this virulent hawkish policy ruthlessly pursued by various American regimes. This barbaric policy has taken a heavy toll in terms of human lives and warlike environment that it helped create over the last three decades. But equally important is the fact that it takes two to tango. The extreme right religious anchored ideology came in handy and both are beneficiaries.

  3. Specifically, the continuation of the process of slowly expanding the definition of that term to include any sort of resistance to the power of US-friendly states. As long as there are “terrorists” and a sufficient number of people fail to recognize the absurdity of a “terrorist threat,” they will have all the justification they need.

    • The President who cut the deal on Syria and is engaging in a diplomatic thaw with Iran is also the President who used the drone program to decimate al Qaeda. His recognition of the threat of terrorism doesn’t seem to have prevented him from pursuing peace with Iran.

      It is certainly true that the threat of terrorism has been used in the way you describe; that does not mean that is must be used that way. It can actually be treated as a policy goal in its own right, and not merely a pretext for another foreign policy vision.

      Invading and occupying Iraq in order to install Ahmed Chalabi and gain basing rights and striking al Qaeda targets are two very different policies, the results of two very different mindsets. You don’t even have to agree with the President about the threat of terrorism in order to recognize this point.

  4. It’s disingenuous for you to write “The Congressional refusal to authorize a strike on Syria is the writing on the wall here.” The simple fact is that Republicans – long the war party in America – would oppose giving cute puppies to orphan children if doing so was proposed by this president. After all, he’s not only a Democrat but black, as well, and I’m not sure which angers the GOP more.

    No doubt this week’s Sunday network gabfests will see John “Grandpa Simpson” McCain and Lindsey “Uncle Wiggly” Graham spouting fact-free nonsense about the dangers Iran poses to, well, the dancing shadows that exist only in their mind. Worse, hosts such as David Gregory – NBC’s constant embarrassment to journalism (followed by Chuck Todd in second place) – will let them spew their lies unchallenged and so much of America will remain uninformed.

    As for AIPAC, I’m not sure who it represents anymore given than more than half of American Jews – including me – disagree with the policies it advocates. I see it as being as dangerous and detached from reality as the NRA, and it’s time for Congress to stop listening to it.

    • Since when,
      Charley,
      is being detached from reality a reason for Congress to stop listening to anyone ?
      Congressional deliberations would grind (poof) to a halt.

      Strictly my perception,
      but I think it was T-Party types in Congress who refused to get rolled on the imminent Syria invasion.

  5. The history of our military interventions are not “Exceptional” even though America supposedly is.

    Korea…stalemate that exist to this day.

    Viet Nam…50,000 US soldiers killed by an undeveloped nation armed with rifles, land mines and mortars. War ends with videos of Vietnamese sympathizers clinging to US helicopters as they lift off from the US embassy.A video that should be shown every time the military insist we are a superior force. Another fallacy of exceptionalism.

    Somalia….A drugged force of militants riding on pick up trucks overpower US forces

    Afghanistan…A third world country drives USSR and US military out of their country. 4000 US servicemen killed, many thousands permanently disabled, trillion dollars squandered, with no lasting results.

    Iraq…A cakewalk turned into a nightmare. US goes up against poorly armed militias (no tanks, helicopters, etc) and homemade bombs. Several years later we gladly gives them back the keys.

    Syria…Disaster avoided for now. Netanyahu outraged.

    Iran…Disaster avoided for now. Potential world wide depression should Iran be bombed and the Strait closed pushing oil up to $300 a barrel.

    • “Korea…stalemate that exist to this day.”

      Caused when North Korea under Kim Il Sung launched an unprovoked invasion of the South, after first obtaining Stalin’s approval. The US “intervention” was under a United Nations mandate to defend the South from the North’s aggression.

      • Dear Bill,
        Actually, Truman got a mandate
        from the UN after the fact.
        Also, your reply has nothing to
        do with the fact that there is
        a stalemate.
        P.S. Glad to read that you have
        quit calling people not nice names.
        Regards,
        John (Korean War Veteran)

        • On June 25, 1950 North Korea launched an unprovoked attack on the South. On June 27, UNSC Resolution 83 authorizing military action was approved. It was only after UNSC Resolution 83 was approved that the US and its allies began preparations to engage the North. You need to refresh yourself on the history of the conflict.

          Regarding “not nice names,” that is a figment of your imagination, and if that is your level of English, I recommend you refresh yourself on English language usage, as well as the history of the Korean War.

    • Since the Korean Was was fought to maintain the pre-war status quo – that is, South Korea free from Northern occupation – that “statement” represents the successful accomplishment of our primary war aims.

      I find it interesting that your description of Somalia ignores the half million people who didn’t die because the mission to guard the relief supplies succeeded. But, as you say, one mission that resulted in 18 American dead and 1500 Somalis was…um, what your point again?

      I was unaware that the United States had been “driven out” of Afghanistan. So are the tens of thousands of American troops still there, awaiting their exit on the American-established timetable.

      And now you’re counting two wars that were never fought as defeats. Fascinating.

      • The Somalia mission’s most remembered video was seeing the corpse of a U.S. Army Ranger killed in action being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by henchmen of the Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid. Aidid was never apprehended by America.

        The incident emotionally devastated U.S. Defense Secretary Les Aspin to such an extent that many blamed it on his early death.

        • Mark,

          “The most remembered video”is now how we evaluate historical and military events?

          I feel terribly sorry for Les Aspin, but could we please have some rigorous historical analysis here?

      • Seems to me that elements of TF Kingston entered Chinese territory, crossing the Yalu. I think that’s why the PLA got involved.
        So, Joe, if we were just wanting to maintain status quo, how did American troops end up on Chinese soil ?

        There are stated war aims, and there are actual war aims.
        Sometimes they don’t match exactly.

        • Apologists also have nice, constantly repeated, heavily reinforced versions of “Winners’ Serious History” that conveniently leave out a whole lot of embarrassing and stupid and venal and evil reality-based detail and flavor, in favor of “What we did was right and justified.”

        • Brian,

          MacArthur exceeded his mandate in seeking to destroy the North Korean forces (just has he had decades before in clearing the veterans from the Mall).

          None of this changes the reality that the United States accomplished exactly what it set out to do. By all means, if you have anything to demonstrate the unification of Korea and even the invasion of China was an American war aim, please share it.

  6. “Without a demonized enemy number 1, how will hawks win election campaigns?” Without an external enemy, the hawks will look internally. This has already begun, with the continued campaign against illegal immigrants – some of whom have been here for a generation. The other internal threats include all the usual suspects: eco-terrorists, gay marriage proponents, abortionists, American Muslims, etc. You can now add whistleblowers to that list. We can all expect to get a lot more attention if Iran stops being the external threat.

    • Carl – but the bright spot of inward aggression that you forgot to mention is the circular Republican firing squad. It doesn’t look like they are going to take any prisoners in their lemming march to self destruction. One can only hope.

  7. Iran has demonstrated that it can be an effective “ally” of many dimensions of US foreign policy. For example, Iran aided the US in freeing hostages in Lebanon during the Bush I administration; in getting arms to Bosnia’s Muslims during the Clinton administration; and, in defeating Al-Qaida and the Taliban after 9/11 and having the Bonn conference a success during the Bush II administration.
    Once the US accepts that Iran is a regional power that is deeply concerned about its national independence, relations should continue to improve. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

    • You are exactly right. I believe that Iran is the United States’ most natural ally in Southwest Asia, and that there will an American-Indian-Iranian alliance by the end of the 21t century that will be as important as NATO was in the 20th.

      • This is about the third time you have framed your projected US-Iranian-Indian alliance in terms of being just as important as NATO. And once again, I must take issue with your premise.

        What made NATO so important, with relatively few disagreements over goals and objectives, were the presence of an existential threat in the form of the Soviet Union, and the shared Western heritage and culture of the members throughout most of NATO’s history. Neither Iran nor India share that Western heritage and culture, and they often see the world through a very different lens than we do. That both are the result of Aryan cultures with Indo-European languages, and that India shares a democratic heritage with the US, are thin reeds, culturally speaking.

        Today, there does not exist a threat, nor do I anticipate one in the future, equivalent to that represented by the Soviet Union (as correctly perceived by NATO members) that would be sufficiently existential to galvanize the US, Iran, and India into the kind of relatively seamless alliance that we had with NATO. In 1969, as part of the Nixon Doctrine, Iran under the Shah was the US’s bulwark in the Near East, but those days are long gone. We certainly will never have such a close relationship with the theocratic regime in Tehran today, and I seriously doubt we will have it with whatever may replace the regime in the future, if indeed it is replaced at all.

        India for decades remained aloof when it was tilting toward the Soviet Union as part of the so-called “Non-Aligned Movement.” And while relations with the US have become more accommodating, and India has opened up its economy in a more market-oriented approach, India still sees the world through a very different prism than the US. India also is very nationalistic and would not take lightly any perception that it was following US policy. And then, of course, there is our decades-long balancing act between our interests in Pakistan and those in India.

        That said, I do see where the US, Iran, and India might come together in the future, not so much in an alliance, but as partners in specific instances where they see their interests aligned. But only in specific instances, not in a formal alliance.

        • First, on the threat: China + sub-state groups may not add up to as much of a threat as the USSR did, but they aren’t likely to be chicken feed, either.

          Second, on the common cultural background: While that may have been important in the 20th century, I’m talking about the second half of the 21st. Cultural integration among open societies continues apace. Differences that may have prevented the formation of an integrated bloc in 1950 aren’t going to matter in 2070.

          Third, I don’t know why you assume the U.S. will not have a close relationship with the successor regime to the mullahs. The Iranian public is the most pro-American in the entire region.

          Your description of American-Indian and American-Pakistani relations to date is accurate, but I’m postulating a big shift in those relations. You’re still talking about the Cold War arrangement, and that is disappearing in the rear view mirror.

        • The “existential threat” will be from China.

          China will be the next “superpower” to supplant the former Soviet Union as America’s primary military threat and a general threat to international peace.

          This has already occurred in the recent Syria poison gas controversy where a Chinese warship was dispatched to the area of the Mediterranean Sea near Syria.

        • “The “existential threat” will be from China….This has already occurred in the recent Syria poison gas controversy where a Chinese warship was dispatched to the area of the Mediterranean Sea near Syria.”

          China’s rise, economically and militarily, will not reach the level of being an “existential threat.” What made the Soviet Union an existential threat was the ideological component, at least until its later years when its own internal contradictions rendered it a hollowed-out shell.

          China is a straightforward, authoritarian, state capitalist country without the communist ideology that would have made it an existentialist threat had its rise occurred under Mao. China definitely is building up its military and naval capacity, as would any country, as it gains economic power and a place on the world stage. But that is far from being an existential threat.

          As for China sending a naval vessel to the Mediterranean, that was simply meant as a signal that it, too, has status. But it did not represent any more of an existential threat than does Russia because it maintains a naval base in Syria at Tartus on the Mediterranean. China, of course, does represent a threat in the waters of the South China and East China Seas, where it has made unsupported claims that are not internationally recognized. This has led to sporadic clashes with Japanese and Philippine vessels. But it remains to be seen whether or not it would lead to any greater conflict. My guess is that it will not.

          To bring all of this down to Joe’s assumption that there is a US-Iranian-Indian alliance in our future that will be as important as NATO was in the 20th century, I see nothing in the actions of China, or any other country or international condominium, that would be the galvanizing force to make it happen, given the disparities in worldviews and national interests among the three.

        • Bill,

          China’s rise, economically and militarily, will not reach the level of being an “existential threat.”

          To the US? Or to India?

          I also find your faith in “state capitalism” as restraint on geopolitical avarice quite unconvincing.

        • “Bill, “China’s rise, economically and militarily, will not reach the level of being an “existential threat.” To the US? Or to India?”

          To neither. The key component of the phrase is “existential.” Certainly not to the US. And China is not about to threaten the very existence of India either. At most, there may be skirmishes, as there were in the 1962 “war”. But the US is certainly not going to form a NATO-like alliance that obligates it to defend India against potential Chinese border or naval skirmishes.

          “I also find your faith in “state capitalism” as restraint on geopolitical avarice quite unconvincing.”

          I mention “state capitalism” for two reasons. First, once imbedded in the international system of trade that has been an economic boon to China, it is far less likely to take major military action against the US, India, Japan, and others that would result in a major setback to its economic position. Second, I mention it to emphasize that China is no longer driven by the communist ideology that would have made it much more an existential threat if it were.

  8. Is Iran out of the US War Queue? The Twilight of the Hawks?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I would say; that is a grossly over optimistic view of the situation.
    If Iran trips in this, they will be destroyed. That is the apparent (stated(?)) position of the neo-cons and O is complicit.
    I’m on tender hooks as this plays out; optimism is not warranted, IMO!

    • Obama was complicit but his “red line” stumble in Syria gave Russia the rope to pull him out of his ever deepening quicksand. Then, Khamenei allowed Rouhani to take baby steps toward a nuclear enrichment compromise which made Obama and Kerry look like statesmen. That set back the Neocons, AIPAC and Netanyahu time table for the next war.

      We shall see what happens from here on out.

      I’m kinda optimistic because all of the pro-war factions will attack Obama and he’ll have to defend his peace offerings towards Iran which means the split will only get bigger and that’s good.

  9. “The US is an unusually war-like country.”

    It’s not just the US but the West. As Samuel Huntington wrote:

    “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”

  10. Hopefully the war hawks will be buried. But with defense and intelligence technology economically dependent on wars and keeping people in a constant state of agitation…with James Woolsey, Feith and others having their own personal incomes dependent on these industries seems like they will figure out a way to keep banging on the war drums.

    Prof Cole hope you do a post (have not scrolled through all the way) on Iranian President Rouhani asking Israel to sign the NPT again. How Iran has in the past pushed for a nuclear free zone and Israel refuses to co-operate

  11. This is the best of the many excellent pieces I have read here. It provides a succinct, well-informed picture of the relation of economics, politics, and war that underpins Washington’s fundamental orientation.

  12. Hope you’re not being overly-optimistic about the Hawkerdammerung. Fact is, the Likud-AIPAC-Neocon Axis of Weevils can see perfectly well what’s unfolding here and are understandably terrified that the Middle East Crisis Racket is about to collapse. So look for any sort of desperate measures to sabotage an outbreak of peace, from false-flag operations to downright assassination.

  13. Adroit policy making produces historic results. Syria was the opening

    The President was much maligned for going to Congress but whether he intended it or not, the result was to freeze the War Party which is but a restatement of Juan’s perceptive comments.

    We won’t be having to worry about the neo-cons for a little while at least and more importantly neither will our President.

  14. Dr. Cole, the “hawks” sure seem a lot more persistent than offered. You know about past empires, and what the militarianist cultists did to help finish off what was left of the subset of “ordinary shopkeeper and farmer albeit nationalist and Jingoist and Chauvinist civilization” that of course “served” and paid for the Krupps’ 305 and 420 guns, all those Spandaus and Hotchkisses and Sacred French 75s, and “Gas! Quick boys!,” and later U-boats to make new waves in the annals of interhuman over-humanity, and to spirit a set of “hawk” Nazis to South America and elsewhere with the portable stealable treasury of Europe when the crap started hitting their fan. And Hiro-saki, of course. These folks are predators with much shorter reflex times than most of us, so they are always “ahead.”

    Some people posting here seem committed to continuing the Game Play that appears to only have a negative-sum overall end, though personally profitable. The “hawks” seem to be doing just fine, thanks, rich and shameless and with inexhaustible patronage. The habits of thought and action of too many of us are ‘invested’ in More Of The Same.

    It would be nice if niceness would overwhelm them, swords into Teslas and wind turbines and all that — any way you see that happening?

  15. “… how will the hawks in Washington survive?”

    In the same way evil has survived since the evolution of homo sapiens.

  16. Dr Cole, you are at your best on this subject. This is why I keep coming back to your blog.

  17. No, Iran is still at the top of the queue, for people who have a “war queue.” If everyone ahead of John McCain in the line of succession died tomorrow, the U.S. would probably be at war with Iran within the year. What happened is that we have a President who doesn’t have a “war queue,” and who is actively working against that faction of the American political establishment that does. Kindly note that those “Washington hawks” continue to push for military action in Syria even after President Obama jumped off the bus, and have been poo-pooing the diplomatic thaw he’s pursued with Iran.

    This is not to say that this President would never use military force (obviously). What it means is that this President would use force for reasons other than those “Washington hawks” – for instance, to back up the Arab Spring (Libya), to maintain the chemical weapons norm (Syria), or to check nuclear proliferation (Iran), but not in the pursuit of the imperialist foreign policy you describe.

  18. I’m not sure why Saudi Arabia is always left out of the discussion of war with Iran, but anyway…..

    Congratulations to Presidents Rouhani and Obama for this effort. I hope they succeed.

    Thanks Prof. Cole.

    • Because Saudi Arabia is the lynchpin of the (now failing) petrodollar, it gets a pass.

      It will be interesting to see what happens when the dollar is no longer the reserve currency of choice.

      • A lot of really sharp, very self-interested people have made and kept the petro-standard dollar as the reserve currency. Human lifespans being still delimited, many of those folks will die, “Apres moi me deluge IBG/YBG” fashion, rich as Croesus on ill-gotten gains, careless of a ravaged planet. Anyone know what the next crop of Vampire Squids and Koch-ers are banking on, as their escalator to obscene wealth?

  19. You are quite right to link the demonization of Iran by the Israelis with the fall of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War Israel was seen as a useful asset against Moscow and its regional allies. After the collapse of Soviet empire the Israelis had to find another way of justifying their importance to America and their multi-billion grant by US taxpayers. The issue of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons started precisely at that time, and it has paid useful dividends right up till now.

    One can sympathize with the Israelis feeling vulnerable being surrounded by hostile neighbors, although some of that hostility is due to Israel’s foreign policies as well as the way it treats the Palestinians. However, now is the best time for them to let go of their fears and pursue a new course. Syria is destroyed, Egypt is in turmoil and will not pose a military threat to Israel for a very long time, if ever, and now with Iran proclaiming publicly that they have no intention of manufacturing nuclear weapons and also saying that they would accept any deal reached between Israel and the Palestinians, the Israelis can really relax and give peace a chance. Their main problem is domestic not foreign. What they have to do is to reach an honorable and viable agreement with the millions of stateless Palestinians, rather than look for real or imaginary enemies outside their borders.

    Netanyahu and Ahmadinezhad needed each other and fed off each other. With Ahmadinezhad gone, Netanyahu must feel very lonely. The best sign that change in Iran is for real is the reaction of the reformists to President Rouhani’s policies at home and abroad. There is still a long way to go, but many reformists including political prisoners have put their support behind Rouhani and his détente with the West. It would have been too much to have expected Ahmadinezhad to change his views, even if he saw more moderate stances by the other side. The same is true of Netanyahu. The change should come from within. It is time for new elections in Israel, hopefully opting for a more moderate leader who can bring himself into line with the developments in the Middle East.

    • Farhang – your comment is perceptive and appreciated. I would only add that Israel’s problem is indeed interior, but much more so than with the Palestinians. As Plato pointed out long ago, the monsters we see are our own shadows projected before us. Victims need persecutors to justify the avoidance of responsibility and maturity that victim-status provides. There is a large, self-justifying strain within Judaism that cries “anti-Semitism!” whenever it doesn’t get its way. Zionism has merely maximized the leverage victim status naturally provides. Judaism is not unique wih this; it’s part of human nature. I am only pointing out its existence within Judaism because it is a major factor that maintains the apartheid policies of Israel. There are many Jews that have outgrown chronic victimhood status; they are the voices that need to be heard to create a new, healthier center of gravity for Judaism.

  20. “Without a demonized enemy number 1, how will hawks win election campaigns?”

    Easy, like their counterparts in Europe. You have fake fear of Sharia law, mosque minarets, Hijab, bearded men and alike. American “hawks” also have advantage over Europeans in that they can still stir up fear of Gay Marriage, Abortion, and Obama care. Whereas in Europe no one get emotional about them.

  21. China will be attempted as the hawk’s first hope. If that doesn’t work out, Russia might be used again. If that fails, they may end up out of luck. General events involving al-Qaida will go on for a while longer, but that won’t be fulfilling enough to hawkism. Starting to provoke an anti-interventionist backlash as well.

  22. The NSA doesn’t exist to counter Iran. The main bogeyman for the US now is “Al Qaeda” (terrorists of any kind). Israel and AIPAC want to keep Iran on the list, but this will not be necessary to keep the US on a “war” footing. We can get scared about a few thousand fanatics who have no real war-making capacity at all.

    • I don’t buy it.

      If al Qaeda by itself was enough of a bogeyman to sustain a national war footing (as opposed to just some small scale policies in the midst of a “normal” military/foreign policy footing, why did Bush all-but-ignore them and turn to Iraq?

      • That, of course, was the Bush League THEN. As we all very well know, this is the NewObamaNO?W. And one has to acknowledge the inexorable power of bueacratic momentum-building, and the clout that all those war dollars (our only real :”jobs program) and those Hooverian dossiers makes available to the personalities that produce the endlessly repeated behaviors and End-of-Empire outcomes us ordinary people are saddled with, crushed under, and Peeping-Tom’d by.

        • Lol wot?

          The terrible, horrible war against al Qaeda costs significantly under $10 billion a year. It is very, very far from a gravy train for the MIC. More like a gravy trickle.

        • Nice sidestep. Seems to me and a lot of people that the TRILLIONS flowing in such a broad, deep river to the MIIC are justified by our rulers as “the price of freedom,” which the threats supposedly to are an amorphous blob of Terrorists and Others. No doubt you have some accounting entry that holds the “lol War on Al Qaeda” to a puny $10 billion a year. The conduct of any of that depends on the whole Global Battlespace Thingie, with all the procurements and logistics and “intelligence” and the rest.And of course I was not writing about “just Al Quaeda,” but about the whole idiotic monstrosity of Cold Warriorism.

  23. Its not at all clear to me that we can get Iran out of the queue. Can you be considered to be one of the very serious people, if you don’t start by saying Rhouhani is just a smiling face sent to trick us and then. Is this going to change anytime. Decades o brainwashing aren’t overcome overnight -particularly is the press/media don’t challenge the old lies.

    And we do have a fallback, Kim Jong-Un doesn’t seem like he wants to play any part other than as the chief villain. Add in the fear of amorphous “terrorists”. We could make making the world safe for shoppers at high end malls around the world our new battle cry.

  24. In any event Congressional Republicans will block any strike request from Obama, despite years of bellicosity on Iran.

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