Mitt Romney’s coming War on Iran: A Tale of Two Conventions

The American Republican Party Convention in Tampa ironically coincides with the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran, Iran. Were nominee Mitt Romney to win, he has signaled a willingness to take military action against Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment facilities, which the Iranians say are for the production of electricity via nuclear reactors, but which Romney claims are intended to produce a nuclear warhead. Romney is also open to sending US troops into Iran-backed Syria. The two conventions, one of white American millionaires and their hangers-on, and the other of global South countries unwilling to subordinate themselves to the American corporate establishment, are harbingers of a new global conflict that could have a dire impact on oil prices and the American and world economy.

Iran will use the conference to press for a Palestinian state and to challenge Israeli annexation of all of Jerusalem, as well as to assert its right to nuclear-generated electricity.

The United States and Israel were unhappy about the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Iran, since they are attempting to isolate that country economically. Indeed, US sanctions and boycotts on Iran have reached the level of a financial blockade on Iranian petroleum exports. Tel Aviv and Washington, with some buy-in from London and Paris, are attempting to do to Iran what was done to Iraq in the 1990s, destroy its economy and reduce it to a fourth world country, in hopes of fostering regime change or at least changes in regime behavior.

There is no go evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has admitted as much publicly. The goal appears to be to attempt to prevent Iran from becoming sophisticated enough to have a breakout capability (i.e. to have the ability quickly to construct a warhead were they to decide to do so). The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory but Israel is not, guarantees countries the right to close the fuel cycle so as to construct nuclear electricity generation plants. Israel is believed to have some 400 nuclear warheads, among the world’s largest stockpile, and PM Binyamin Netanyahu may be implicated in illegally smuggling nuclear components from the United States decades ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “arrogant” pressure on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon not to go to the Non-Aligned meeting in Tehran is said to have backfired, causing Ban to insist on attending.

Other defiance came from New Delhi. India is committed to remain among Iran’s largest oil markets, and is resisting US pressure and sanctions. It is even talking about allowing Iranian banks to operate in India, despite heavy-handed US threats.

Romney, who thinks Obama is not doing enough against Iran despite the latter’s current unprecedented financial blockade of that country, will likely come into fairly severe conflict with India over Iran.

Egypt’s new Muslim fundamentalist president Muhammad Morsi insisted, likewise, on going to Tehran, signaling his independence from Washington and a desire for Egypt to play a more wideranging role in the region. There is talk of Egypt restoring diplomatic relations with Iran.

Romney has slammed Obama for acquiescing in the overthrow of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, who had imprisoned Morsi and many members of his party. Romney will likely have tense relations with Morsi and the new Egypt.

The US is already perceived in the global South as acting irrationally and vindictively against their companies for perfectly innocent trade with Iran, and for making petroleum prices higher with its attempted financial blockade of that country. If Romney is, as he has suggested, to ramp up tensions with Iran further, and perhaps even intends military action, these global divisions will grow, perhaps to crisis proportions. Military action in the Gulf would certainly send gasoline/ petrol prices sky high and possibly further derail world recovery from the deep global recession.

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29 Responses

  1. There are many Iranians who have a great desire for regime change in Iran,, a change away from their religious fundamentalist controlled government. But, they do not want this change to come in the same violent form that came to Iraq. There are many Iranians who would welcome a progressive and modern government. The trick will be to coordinate our support with the Iranians who are willing to risk it all to make a stand against their idiot fundamentalists. Any military involvement would be a huge mistake. The Iranians I have met are some of the nicest people I have known. They are certainly not my enemies.

      • A state with some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the entire world has life expectancy and infant mortality rankings not even in the Top 100 among countries in the world (lower than many countries poorer than Iran), not to mention the Gulf States and Israel, all of which have living standards far higher than the IRI (e.g. Bahrain’s HDI is well above that of the IRI, not to mention, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc). Is one supposed to be impressed that the IRI is not even in the Top 100 in infant mortality and life expectancy despite earning many hundreds of billions of petrodollars during its 3-decade reign of mass executions, torture, and rape? Public opinion “polls” in an authoritarian regime that regulates every aspect of its citizens’ lives (what they can wear, drink, eat; who they can associate with, socialize with, etc) is WORTHLESS. “Polls” show that 99% of North Koreans support their leaders, as do similar numbers of Cubans.

    • Why do “we” even need to insert ourselves into this process. Self determination works best and Founders understood that. Leave the Iranian’s alone and the demographics of the youth will lead to an erosion of the totalitarian nature of their rulers. To think anything else would reek of bigotry.

      • “Self determination works best and Founders understood that.”

        Yes, and that’s why “The Founders” rejected all the financial and military assistance from France, Poland, etc. during the US revolutionary war against England. Lafayette? Never heard of him!

    • There are many Iranians who would welcome a progressive and modern government.

      Since when do you get to decide what constitutes a progressive and modern government? Come back and talk to us about it when you have a health system that covers all your citizens, an educational system that produces pupils who can read and write, it’s be nice if American kids could do basic arithmetic do you think your progressive and modern government could arrange that? While you’re at it America could surely use a justice system that is no longer institutionally weighted against blacks – perhaps you could ask your progressive and modern government to try to accomplish that.

      Another thing you might want from your progressive and modern government would be for it to refrain from launching illegal and barbaric wars of aggression in the Middle East on the basis of a pack of lies.

      The trick will be to coordinate our support with the Iranians who are willing to risk it all to make a stand against their idiot fundamentalists.

      An even better trick would be to realise that your country’s revolting behaviour throughout the Middle East has made you toxic in the region. Reformers and human rights activists regard being associated with America and Americans as being downright detrimental to their efforts to say nothing of increasing the very real risks they run.

      The Iranians I have met are some of the nicest people I have known. They are certainly not my enemies.

      Awwwwwwwww isn’t that just heartwarming? Mind you with friends like you they surely don’t need more enemies.


      • Nice little anti-American rant.

        Perhaps the Irish educational system could work on teaching the concept of “ad hominem fallacy.”

        Iran’s government isn’t regressive and medieval because AMERICAN SUCKS! That’s your argument?

  2. It is clear that US foreign policy in the Middle East collapsing. This is not a bad thing; it was a bad policy. We seem to have come to the point where war is answer to all foreign policy dilemmas.

    Do you see any new thinking in Washington in this regard? Any adjustment for this new reality? Will we move past seeing everything through the Israeli lens?

    • War is about the only thing the US can still do better than anyone else — up to a certain degree (Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that the US still cannot fight an insurgency with any great success). No one in the Mideast trusts us, no one much admires us. and we’re in over our heads when it comes to diplomacy and intrigue with far more accomplished players. If the US didn’t have its Big Stick, no one would take us seriously at all, with our economy wrecked and our finances tottering and our leadership wholly corrupt and unprincipled.

      The American willingness to use force or the threat of force to get its way, combined with bribery and deceit, is bound to produce disaster after disaster for themselves and others.

    • Do you see any new thinking in Washington in this regard? Any adjustment for this new reality?/i>

      Name another U.S President in the past century who would have gone along with the overthrow of a core ally like Mubarak by a mass movement that included the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. I’m having trouble coming up with one who wouldn’t have sent in troops to quash it.

      I’m pretty sure the Israelis weren’t too happy about what happened to Mubarak.

  3. It’s really hard to comment on politicians’ judgments, because you never know whether they are really that shortsited or they just follow someone else’s commands.

    Hasn’t anyone taught Romney and Netanyahu that sanctions and blockades can only lead to trouble. Just look at what happened in Germany in the thirty’s and 1940s.

  4. acting irrationally and vindictively against their companies

    Bet you meant “countries,” but it’s more interesting as written.

    Now there’s a telling Freudian slip or innocent typo or whatever. How deeply the whole sick notion of the world as the oyster and playground and battlefield of corporate entities has penetrated. Colors and pollutes just about everything. Just like the whole lexicon of the neocons and Austrian-schoolers and Koch-trained barking dogs.

    I tried watching a bit of the Red Convention (remember when these same people were all about rather being Dead than Red? How things change, in the mindlessness of tribal motions…). My “remote thumb” just took control, and forced me to find something, anything, other than that sick vision of falsehood and death and decay being so vociferously and enthusiastically transmitted and received by so many people who have so actively and successfully pursued power and personal wealth at the expense of any kind of virtue. Ann just “loves women.” What is that supposed to mean?

    Meantime, the Family Values crowd has been taking full advantage of the opportunities for covert hypocrisy, sneaking via “covered entrances” into the lapd-ancing and bl-w-jobbing and whatever-kink-you-want parlors of Tampa’s famous sex club scene. What is with all them tighty-whitey “Christians” that they tolerate, wink at, and facilitate the whole set of evil behaviors, including ramping up for idiot military violence that serves only stupidity and desolation, on the part of “their leaders?”

    • “What is it with them…?”

      Think you know the answer, squishy tho it may be: its all symptomatic of deep psychological pathologies. Insecurity being core, in not being able to trust anyone they don’t have a foot to the throat of; never, ever, having enough money/wealth/power. And the more the have of all that good stuff, and the greater the distance between them and “the others”, the more afraid they are of “those people”, hence more money for national defense at one level and gated communities on the other. Oh, and how Those People hate us for our freedom!

      Come to think of it, maybe they do have something to be afraid of. After all, the trick to successful long-term fleecing is not to get too greedy, and that’s all a bit too subtle for this crowd.

  5. “There is no go evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program”

    I think you may have meant “no good evidence”

  6. Ban Ki-Moon was in Gaza immediately after the Operation Cast Lead military incursion that devastated that region. He was outraged at seeing a damaged U.N. facility that had been clearly marked but had drawn fire from the Isareli Defense Forces for disputed reasons.

    Some Palestinians called him a “face” as opposed to a “voice” for Palestinians in the conflict with Israel.

    Sadly, there is no real indication that he will vigorously promote peace in that region.

  7. As Professor Cole and Hillary and Valerie Mann Leverett have been pointing out the Obama administrations approach with Iran has been all wrong. When they are led around by Israel and the I lobby no surprise.

    Prof Cole hope you dig into the Navy analyst Todd story more. Not getting much attention unless that is the intention. Someone or someone’s trying to shut that story down.

    The recently released BREAKING THE SILENCE REPORT about IDF soldiers talking about the abuse they have participated in towards Palestinian children is a must read

    • The Israel lobby hates the Obama administration’s approach to Iran. They’re pretty down on the administration’s policy towards the region in general.

      It’s a mistake to divide the world into “those who agree with me” and “everyone else.” Just because you aren’t getting the policy you want, doesn’t mean that the Israelis are.

      • good point. Strikes me Obama etal have been successfully bending without breaking down to the Lobbies Will (“bend” being the wrong word here, but you get the drift). But it isn’t as though they are not being boxed-in by the staff work of folks at the Asst Sec level, such at Dennis Ross before he left or Elliott Abrams), with their patient and longer term positioning strategies.

  8. Ironically, if the hate-Iran crowd could ever see it, to the extent that Iran may be trying to get nuclear weapons, they are trying to gain a status which will be a much more severe restraint on their political behavior than American/Western sanctions: the self-enforced detente of Mutually Assured Destruction.

    Once they have that one bomb (again, if indeed that is their goal) they can’t use it — without the threat of receiving Israel’s hundreds of nuclear weapons and America’s thousands of nuclear weapons! The behavior of the superpowers since 1949 gives many examples: the prospect of likely damage to one’s own nation provides an extremely powerful reason to restrain one’s own behavior and seek some sort of detente or armed truce with nuclear-armed adversaries (even though actual compromise and conflict resolution are still too much to ask of modern states).

    If Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon and is facing Western sanctions, that will tend to enrage it. If Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon and is facing Western sanctions, it will tend to respond with craftiness, guile and evasion. Yet once Iran actually has a nuclear weapon, their own self-interest in their own nation’s survival becomes a very powerful impetus towards restraint in the geopolitical/military sphere of action.

    Those with an irrational fear of Iranian nuclear ambitions have to demonize Iranians as being not concerned with their own well-being, as being irrationally and uniquely capable of allowing ideological whims to overrule national self-interest. I can’t buy it.

    • That “one Iranian bomb” does change things; it constrains Israel and the US. That is not a bad thing.

      Currently the US or Israel could attack Iran and not have much worry about the consequences. The US would be embroiled in another un-winnable war but that is OK. No elites die in such adventures. And, there are profits to be made!

      If Israel attacked they would probably take some hits. However the Israelis don’t seem to care about their own deaths so long as they kill more of the others. They will pobably cry a lot and expect us to join in.

      One Iranian bomb changes that whole equation. Even without a launch vehicle, that bomb will disappear after an attack. Where will it re-appear? That is the question.
      Even insane policy makers can understand that!

      • Don’t forget the underlying point is Iranian nuclear weapons CAPABILITY. The mere ability constrains Israel, ergo it’s an existential threat.

        GIVE Iran that one bomb and your point is true, but somewhat beside the point since the strategic impact would’ve already been made. Its also unnecessary and counterproductive to the spread of Iranian influence at various levels. The whole subject of their acquisition is a red herring.

        From Israel’s LEGITIMATE perspective, however, SHOULD Iran field a weapon, they could absorb far fewer hits than Iran. Remember the FACTS, that a reliable tactical weapon, perfectly delivered, can knock out an airbase, an armored column or make a bad mess of a city. In Japan in 1945, with flimsy construction, say 100,000 people were killed in 2 crowded cities per blast; horrible, but that’s a fraction of 6-7 million. The problem is that Iran could start making more after the first, and ABM defenses simply cannot resist a competent coordinated attack. However, when you think about it, everything Iran might (really) want to accomplish does not require the bomb.

        So yes. The real solution is detente with Iran, to offset Israel’s current regional hegemony, with no weapon but the potential of one, if Israel doesn’t start dealing with its neighbors with respect and equity. Works for me; and paradoxically, for Israel as well.

        That solution would come from stiffing the Lobby and letting Iran develop their capabilities. But figure the odds of that for yourself.

  9. Perfect pitch ! You got the whole story down in this one article – short and sweet. Nobody else can do that so simply and so true.

  10. Romney has wealth in the form of paper assets. Many of the non-aligned countries have wealth in the form of raw materials, and manufacturing, primitive by moon rocket robot standards, but considerable nonetheless.

    A war on Iran would cause paper assets to evaporate and undervalued material assets to become quite valuable.

  11. Shea Brown

    “The trick will be to coordinate our support with the Iranians who are willing to risk it all to make a stand against their idiot fundamentalists.”

    A better trick would be to get the liberal Wilsonian interventionist dilletantes and jesters out of the American political process and keep to our own affairs.

  12. Yes, Juan, thank you for mentioning Israel’s 400 nuclear weapons. Very few American journalists, while making the case for attacking Iran for their “attempt to make 1” (which is doubtful), mention this fact.

    If we assume Iran WAS making a warhead or two, how could they possibly use it against Israel? For them, it would be as idiotic an action as beginning a nuclear war would have been during the US-Soviet “balance of terror.”

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