Having spent seven years writing and elaborating on the subject of Iran and its confrontational stance against the United States and especially Israel, I have grown tired of wasting time and energy like a hamster running the treadmill or, worse yet, like Sisyphus pushing a gigantic load up the hill only to watch it roll back down, over and over again.
Kam Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion. He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to , with focus on US/Iran issues. More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: intellectualdiscourse.com
What's most frustrating is the fact that it doesn't require a genius mind to see through the fog of propaganda and disinformation to get a glimpse of the realities behind the lies and distortions. But, quite unfortunately, in a social climate where Fox News can claim the largest audiences and Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Ann Coulter and other arrogant loudmouths have a huge influence on the public's mindset, realities have to take the back seat to hype, fantasy and sensationalism. After all, entertainment has much more appeal than information; just watch and listen to the comedienne, and now even a potential presidential candidate (God have mercy upon this nation), Sarah Palin.
True, in today's world there is no shortage of access to news and information, mostly thanks to the internet. Yet, even this marvel of modern technology has become a tool in the hands of better than 99% of its users as just a source of mindless entertainment. Addicted to gadgets and electronic toys, the average citizen of pre-retirement age, now more than ever busy with the daily routines, finds no time and has little incentive to carefully, skeptically and analytically sift through the pre-packaged so-called news and information that flood the airwaves.
The slice of the American population of voting age that is somewhat concerned about nationwide issues such as the economy, jobs, health care, Social Security, immigration or anything that affects their immediate lives, seldom shows any deep appreciation of international affairs. By and large, the American public has remained sheltered from the true challenges confronting the nation's interests on the global stage. As long as the parents provide the children with adequate shelter, food, toys and entertainment, the children couldn't care less what the parents had to do outside the house to provide all that. It is no different for a nation.
The problem is, there is a sea-change underway whose effects on the global populations, particularly the American people, will prove more imminent and consequential than the global warming and the energy crisis. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, the average American should begin to understand that the status quo is no longer assuredly sustainable.
What is the status quo?
America's global dominance as a military and economic superpower, particularly since the Second World War, created an environment of opportunity, prosperity, freedom and security. Sheltered from the turbulent world outside, the American people's characteristic sense of "exceptionalism", as well perceived as it was, gradually lead to an obtrusive exuberance, the flipside of which was a gradual submission into a general complacency or lack of enthusiasm when it came to international affairs. What happened outside didn't matter!
During this period America did engage in wars; Korea, Vietnam, and a few excursions in Central America. For the American people, all those wars or excursions were necessary to protect the Free World from the dangers of communist expansionism, something that the public had easily accepted, albeit with some skepticism after the Vietnam episode. Foremost in the minds of the average citizen, all those military efforts were aimed at confronting a menace that threatened the international community of the Free World, which would perhaps affect American interests indirectly if at all. In other words, America, in the minds of the typical citizen, was sacrificing the lives of its own soldiers and incurring enormous financial burdens in an altruistic effort to protect others from the dangers of communism.
But how many even among our academically savvy people know enough about the workings of international politics to see the true picture behind the theatrical stage?
The irreplaceable talent, the ability to convince a nation to support certain policies that the leadership of the nation deems to be essential for the welfare of the nation, cannot be overvalued. This "convincing" takes the form of indoctrination and requires some very creative maneuverings and hypocritical gymnastics when the implementation of the policies require actions that, if truly known by the public, would not sit well with the moral/ethical values of the people. There is no denying that the most important tool for success in politics and diplomacy is the ability to pursue the desired objectives and look good doing so; in short, indulge in positive hypocrisy, or hypocrisy for a good cause.
The only hope or expectation is that such hypocritical or deceptive behavior is truly aimed at serving the nation's best interests no matter how unpleasant or unacceptable the means of achieving the goals would be to the people, as long as they remain unaware of the facts.
This is how most Americans came to believe that the aim of invading Iraq was to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction (which, even if true, would have been no threat to America) and to destroy Al Gha'ida nests there. But what made that war even more palatable morally was the belief that we were bringing the oppressed Iraqi nation freedom and democracy and a functioning government to be the model for reform in that entire region. Well, not only did we not find any WMDs, and our invasion lead later to the presence of militants affiliated with Al Gha'ida network, civil strife and massive bloodshed continue and democracy remains a vague, nondescript dream.
Now it is Afghanistan's turn to be "liberated" and to transform into a working liberal democracy!
Of course, we all know, or better put, we have all been sold the line that the biggest obstacle to our "success" in that region is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The "real" patriots among our politicians, vocal media pundits and opinion molders believe that a regime change in Iran is absolutely necessary even if it would take an all out military action, not excluding the use of limited yield nuclear weapons. The more moderate among our thinking heads would rather ratchet up economic sanctions to cripple Iran's economy and encourage a social uprising and a regime change from within that country, with limited support by outside elements.
What everyone seems to agree on, however, is that the Iranian regime is an expanding menace that must be confronted and contained to preserve peace in the region and to prevent an international catastrophe. This is the prevailing scenario that has been staged all over the media, from the liberal Left to the radical Right, and vocalized by all Administration officials from the office of the President to the United States Congress. Under these circumstances what is the average citizen to think? This, in a nutshell, is the general public perception in the United States.
And there are other gems of conventional wisdom that the average Joe or Jane has accepted without any reason to analyze or scrutinize or be skeptical about. The following is a short list:
Who wouldn't like to see America become energy self-sufficient so that billions of our dollars won't have to fill the pockets of those dirty camel jockeys in the Middle East whose oil we import?
Now, let us look into that for a minute:
1- That imported oil costs us a lot, a hell of a lot, less than would our domestically produced oil.
2- The companies that drill, service and maintain those wells, and practically everything else until the crude reaches our own shores are mostly American companies with American staff. Those "camel jockeys" receive a royalty and don't have much say over anything else at all.
3- Where do all those billions of dollars they receive end up?
A/ In American or Western European banks, industries and other venues that boost our economies, not in their own land and for the benefit of their own people. Some of those "Sheikdoms" don't even have a population base to worry about.
B/ The Saudi government was obliged to purchase almost 100 billion dollars worth of our dated and practically obsolete military equipment in the past year, under the guise of defense against a potential Iranian threat! These oil states are even allowing our military bases to exist in their land so that we could help protect them against a supposed Iranian military attack.
This means that we are getting a lot more back from "them Arabs" than we are giving them for their oil.
4- Since without American support these oil-rich despotic Arab rulers would lose control over their kingdoms, and that even includes non oil exporters like Egypt and Jordan, these regimes have to remain compliant and do for us as they are told. This includes control over the oil flow, for which the rest of the industrialized world, particularly our arch competitor, China, is far more dependent than we are, and certain other political issues of concern such as dealings with our Israeli partners and the "Iranian menace".
Not so bad for us; is it?
Another gem in our conventional wisdom list is the cost of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is estimated so far to be somewhere between one and three trillion dollars! These are moneys, some say, that we had to borrow from China, our economic competitor, and the oil-rich Sheiks; that is pure, unadulterated bull.....
But, wait a minute; what exactly are these trillions of dollars of war costs? We are talking about monetary costs, of course, not human lives that can never be retrieved. Where were all that military hardware and equipment, tanks, personnel carriers, aircraft, guns, bullets, etc., built or replaced after their destruction? We haven't been purchasing all that equipment and war machinery and replacement parts or artillery shells from Russia or Indonesia, have we? Who were the contractors who built our facilities and bases all over the region; Bin Laden Construction Company? No! The salaries and compensations our military personnel receive come right back to support their families here. How much of their pay did they spend on local tubule or watered down yogurt cola? In short, most of the money channeled toward our war efforts comes right back to feed our home based industries, what Dwight D. Eisenhower aptly termed the Military-Industrial Complex.
So, war and fears of threats against our national security aren't so bad for our defense industries and their gigantic peripheral or supportive conglomerates of civilian and military establishments. That is, of course, if you did not lose a loved one out there, and if you are not an Iraqi, a Pakistani or an Afghan.
Granted, there could be and should be a legitimate debate as to whether this huge chunk of our GDP could have served a more useful purpose for the nation's well being had it been allocated to health, education and other social services. But to say that those trillions of dollars have been thrown into a cosmic Black Hole is definitely incorrect!
Now let us look at other beneficiaries of extended war and chaos in the Middle East, which might explain why a resolution to these regional conflicts may not be as desirable as one wants to think, and will not come easily or painlessly to those concerned:
The main players in the Middle East region that are benefiting from this seemingly unending strife are:
1- The leaders of our "friendly" or "moderate" Arab Islamic states, those who owe their very existence to American support, or else! This, in spite the fact that the nations under the regimes' control would topple those leaders if given a chance. And, as long as we feel that our military and economic hegemony over the region is necessary, this symbiotic relationship will continue.
2- Israel. In spite of all the international condemnations and even the United Nations' resolutions against its perennial policies of illegal expansionism, human rights violations and subjugation of the beleaguered Palestinian populations, Israel has managed to move progressively toward the realization of the Zionist dream of an Eretz Yisrael, a Zionist empire as envisioned as the Promised Land. As the recent history of the so-called peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians have clearly shown, the Israeli side has never had any intention of reaching any kind of resolution that would entail slowing down or curtailing their expansionistic agendas or giving up an inch of territory back to the Palestinians.
Under the cover of American military, economic and diplomatic protection, Israel has carried out its agendas with total impunity, while the Palestinians have always been blamed for the failure of the peace negotiations.
What has given the Zionists this inordinate advantage is the power of the Zionist lobby and its vast affiliates in the news, information and entertainment industries and financial institutions, and their visible influence over the American legislative and administrative bodies.
The selling points have always been two-pronged: Israel has successfully paraded as America's staunchest and most reliable ally in a region important to American vital strategic and economic interests. And, this supposed extension of America's best interests has remained under constant threat of annihilation by hostile enemies of both the Jewish nation and the United States.
In short, Israel benefits in every way as long as it can point to some source of imminent "existential threat" to itself in the region; and what could be more "believable" than Iran these days to fit that portrayal?
3- Ironically, other beneficiaries of the continued instability and chaos in the region have been the hardliners within the Iranian regime. As long as threats of invasion and regime change, hand in hand with economic and diplomatic sanctions against the nation continue, the ultraconservatives can better legitimize their positions as the guardians of the nation's security and territorial integrity. This also helps continue policies of repression and restriction of social freedoms, which add to internal dissatisfaction and unrest that fuel anxiety among the more vocal segments of the population. This way dissent leads to more crackdowns by the system, which in turn creates more dissent, prolonging social instability.
4- Also quite paradoxically, Portrayal of Iran as a real threat allows the United States to avoid being dragged into a catastrophic new war in the Middle East.
Mr. Netanyahu could very well be telling President Obama: "Listen, tell your Congress that if we don't have our way with regard to the Palestinian issues, more military aid, much more money, etc. we will attack Iran's nuclear facilities and drag you into that mess while we sit on the sidelines and watch the fireworks. Of course you know we are not crazy enough to do such a thing. But the warning would give your Congress all the pretext it needs to pass any resolution we want it to pass." "Very much like the sale of that pile of junk to the Saudis. Now your Congress will be more than happy to listen to our alarm calls and compensate us with more of your most sophisticated weapon systems, in grant for, of course! Didn't I tell you that was the best way to get us what we want?"
Obama might reply: "You know this is tantamount to blackmail."
"Yes, of course, but remember, your mid-term elections are right around the corner and I am sure you want to have a chance come next elections." Netanyahu would reply.
Does this sound too Machiavellian; does it really?
I have always maintained that a military attack on Iran by the United States and/or Israel is not in the books. This is simply because another war front in the region would not benefit anyone, the United States, Israel or Iran. For years, as I had predicted repeatedly, the alarm bells of an imminent attack upon Iran's nuclear or military facilities were turned off and the target dates moved conveniently back. As warnings became ultimatums and the levels of anxiety rose close to the flashpoint, some development invariably doused the fire until the next cyclic episode scheduled with almost clockwork regularity.
The bottom line is, Iran portrayed as a huge threat to Israel and the region plays an important role in the drama that has been staged for public consumption. The American administration, the Israelis and the Arabs know quite well that Iran is not on the way to developing nuclear arsenals, and even if it did, that would not pose any potential threat of an aggressive action by Iran. So, writing articles and dissertations that attempt to prove that fact is, in my opinion, a waste of time and energy. All those concerned already know the facts.
A much bigger danger would loom ahead if Iran were to actually capitulate and join the friendly allies of the United States. If that were to happen, the proverbial applecart would tip over and all hell would break loose!
We need to have a potential "enemy" lurking around in the Middle East if this charade is to continue. Should Pakistan, for example, replace Iran as the primary danger to the region's peace and security and threaten the Jewish state with its known nuclear weapons that might fall into the hands of their radical elements, Iran would be able to retire from playing that role in this macabre drama.
... Payvand News - 09/30/10 ... --