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Iran: Bush's Next Target?

By Jalal Alavi

As George W. Bush's final term in office will soon come to an end, many around the world are wondering what his next move will be with regard to Iran and its controversial nuclear program.  Though Bush himself is denying the possibility of military action against Iran's nuclear and military facilities, the hitherto history of US relations with the Third World (as well as with Russia and China) indicates that such assertions cannot always be trusted, especially when major-power diplomacy no longer seems capable of resolving the escalating confrontation between the West and the Islamic Republic, and the Bush administration has yet to take the military option off the table, so to speak.  While the Bush administration has been proactive, and to a great extent successful, in getting the UN Security Council to impose economic sanctions on Iran, such punitive measures will not in themselves be capable of the kind of immediate outcome (regime change) the administration has been hoping for, thus increasing the probability of US military strikes against Iran before the end of Bush's second term.

Another important issue that is increasing the chances of Bush administration military strikes on Iranian nuclear and military facilities has of course to do with the sort of infighting and thus cut-throat environment that is nowadays characteristic of Democratic rivalry in the United States.  With John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, gaining popularity as a result of the ongoing conflict between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary R. Clinton, the Bush administration is finding itself in a more comfortable position for waging war against Iran, for it no longer has to worry about an electoral backlash in November or a future administration that would be unwilling to continue in its footsteps.

Iran's recent announcement of the addition of 6000 new centrifuges to its current capacity, and such stage-setting statements as those recently made by the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the supreme US commander in Iraq, in which Iran has been more seriously implicated in the ongoing violence in Iraq, must also of course be taken into consideration when assessing the probability of potential US strikes against Iran.  Having said that, it is worth taking into account that the mere thought of a Democratic presidential victory in November would perhaps provide the Bush administration with even more of an incentive to wage a "pre-emptive" war against Iran while the opportunity still exists, so as to deprive the Islamic Republic of the chance to strike a "grand bargain" with the next administration, which, according to Bush and the neoconservative circle around him, would compromise Israeli and US interests in the region.

With the above analysis in mind, a question arises as to what the world should make of the possibility of yet another US-led war in the Middle East.  What will happen to the price of oil, for example, which could in time trigger yet another global recession of the type experienced in the late 1920s?  What about the human costs of such a war, which would indeed be much greater than that which has already been the case in Iraq and Afghanistan?  What about the massive environmental degradation that such a ferocious war would help bring about throughout the region if not the entire planet?  What about the future of democracy in Iran as well as the United States, as the collective impact of the abovementioned factors will surely have an adverse effect on both?

Though the above analysis may seem a bit alarmist to some, seasoned critics would agree that such logically based probability assessments with respect to the possibility of war and conflict are not only routine in the field of international relations, but also would be necessary if the left is to maintain its privileged position in support of progressive politics while improving its ability to predict future events and trends.  Accordingly, it would do the left well to condemn not only the horrific prospect of yet another US-led war in the Middle East, but also the many atrocities the Islamic Republic has so far committed against the Iranian citizenry.  In other words, progressive politics would require the simultaneous condemnation of Western imperialism as well as Third World despotism, so as to enable the emergence of a genuine democratic outcome in both the North as well as the South.  Anything other than the above would surely be of a realpolitik rather than democratic nature and thus alien to the true left.

About the author: Jalal Alavi is a sociologist and political commentator residing in Britain

... Payvand News - 04/16/08 ... --

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