artwork source: geshniz
There is an old Middle Eastern anecdote, one of the tales attributed to the fictitious character, known in Iran as Mollah Nassreddin, whose humor bears a lot of wisdom.
Mollah Nassreddin was resting in his loft when he heard a commotion down on the street below his window. He saw two people in what seemed to be a serious quarrel. He rushed down to mediate, and succeeded in separating the combatants. When he returned to his room he noticed that he was robbed of his blanket!
The next day a friend asked him what that street brawl was all about. "Oh, that was only a diversion; as it turned out, it was over my blanket."
The ongoing theatrical debate and confrontation between the American Chief Executive and the Israeli Prime Minister reminded me of that old anecdote.
Are the two combatants truly engaged in a serious argument, or is this a mock battle staged for public consumption to serve another purpose.
We are led to believe that the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, is so concerned about Iran's advancements toward the weaponization of its nuclear projects that delaying or foregoing an attack on its enrichment facilities would create an existential treat to the Jewish state.
President Obama, on the other hand, insists on waiting for the economic and diplomatic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic to do the job of discouraging Iran from making the bomb. He has restated his ironclad pledge to take military action, if necessary, to prevent Iran from making the dreaded nuclear bomb. His words were carefully measured: he did say he would even resort to military action if necessary to prevent Iran from making the bomb, but he didn't say he would approve of an attack to stop Iran from leaning how to make nuclear bombs.
While the American President appears to be begging Israel to stand down and not take any premature preemptive action against the Iranian targets, Netanyahu seems to be agonizing over accommodating his powerful ally's advice and has a difficult time with agreeing to put the destiny of his nation in the hands of its generous benefactor. Netanyahu might be softening up a bit, even as Israel's staunch supporters, from the Republican presidential candidates looking for more Jewish campaign money and support, to the infotainment media pundits and the always loyal Zionist Congressional moles, continue to beat the war drums nonstop. Some anti-war pundits are already lamenting that the President has been forced to capitulate to Netanyahu's bullying tactics.
So, what's really going on? What is this charade all about?
The public sentiment is thus being energized in a prescribed fashion: Israel, our friend and ally, our brave sentinel in that horrible part of world, is being asked to risk its own safety, against its better judgment, and to put its trust in us to hold the arch enemy, Iran, at bay. Israel is, therefore, owed big time, and I mean BIG TIME!
How fair would it be under these crucial circumstances to pressure such a loyal friend and ally to yield to additional demands, such as sitting at peace talks with the troublesome Palestinians, an "invented" people, as Mr. Gingrich calls them, and stopping the construction of new Jewish settlements just because they are illegal, or refraining from international terrorism and opening their nuclear weapons facilities to the IAEA inspectors and joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)? No; that'll be too unfair!
Netanyahu expects, and will no doubt get, commitments for additional military equipment, the very latest, and more financial aid, regardless of the cost to the American taxpayers, as well as a continuation of blanket US diplomatic support at the United Nations in spite of international condemnations, just in case those "irresponsible" mollahs in Iran decide to commit mass suicide by launching an attack on Israel.
In the real world the picture is very different.
We could say a lot of things about Mr. Netanyahu, but he is neither dumb nor suicidal. We could also say a lot of things about the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. but again, they are neither mentally retarded nor are they suicidal maniacs.
Practically all political analysts and commentators on the ongoing and escalating threats of war with Iran seem to be honestly concerned and warning us against such an eventuality. Do they know something that they believe the policy makers at the highest levels in Washington, Tel Aviv and Tehran do not know and need to be taught? Get serious, please!
Imagine some accidental spark igniting the powder keg of war in the Gulf. The most likely culprit would be a "false-flag" operation by a rogue Israeli element targeting an American aircraft carrier. All hell suddenly breaks loose in response. Joint American and Israeli (and Saudi) assault on Iranian targets would ensue. Simple logic would dictate that, in such an event, direct negotiations between the Iranian and American heads of state and the military top brass would immediately begin to try to defuse and contain the situation.
If the Iranian leaders were to succeed in controlling and limiting Iran's retaliatory response, they would be in a highly advantageous bargaining position for reparations, and would gain immensely in their international sanding and prestige. However, that would be too much to expect.
The most likely scenario would be a hasty military response that would target Israeli, Saudi and American targets by literally tens of thousands of rocket and missiles, and the closing of the Strait of Hormuz. Israel does have an anti missile system, but no anti missile battery could possibly stop a shower of thousands of warheads coming its way, not just from Iran, but from southern Lebanon, as well. The devastation in Israel would be far greater per capita than in Iran.
Saudi oil production and shipping would be severely interrupted, and the closure of the Strait of Hormuz would send the oil prices upwards of $300, even $400 a barrel, paralyzing the ailing European economies overnight.
Nobody wants any of that; not the United States, not Iran, and not Israel. So, why all the media hype about an impending Israeli attack on Iranian targets, with or without the United States? My position has always been: Why engage in an expensive and disastrous war when mere threats of war accomplish the desired task?
To quote from one of my previous articles:
The most convincing argument against an Israeli plan to attack Iran is, as I have said often before, Why engage in an unpredictable, costly and potentially disastrous war when the mere threats of war could accomplish the desired objectives? Both the US Administration and the Israeli leadership know that fact. Threatening to attack Iran is accompanied by a long laundry list of demands from the American Administration. As long as the American public believes the Israelis, that they are rightfully struggling for their very existence, that Iran is aiming to wipe them off the face of the earth, that they need and deserve all the support America could provide, how could the White House or the Congress deny them of all that? How could the United States refuse to shelter them against the global demands for, say, Palestinian statehood, returning the occupied territories and dismantling illegal new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or disengaging from state sponsored terrorism, etc?
They want more money, more sophisticated military aid, stronger diplomatic support, and less pressure to engage the Palestinians in any peace negotiations. And, they are going to get all that, or else!
Or else what? Or else, no second term for Mr. Obama, increased military spending at the expense of higher national priorities, creation of more excuses to maintain American military forces and bases in and around the Middle East at a great cost to the American people in lives, money and global prestige, and on and on.
| 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 Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.
More information about Mr. Zarrabi and his work is available at: intellectualdiscourse.com
I have been correctly predicting this before, and I am predicting it again; there will be no attack on Iranian targets this time, either. The target dates will be pushed back as the great game continues.
Meanwhile, the Iranian people suffer under socioeconomic pressures, and the prospects of a long overdue systemic reform remains a glistening mirage so near, yet so out of reach. Ultimately, it will be sane, mature and evenhanded diplomacy that shall turn the tide. I am not a Nostradamus, but I do predict that we will witness positive developments beginning to change the regional picture and the US/Iran relations before the end of 2013.
Other recent articles by Kam Zarrabi:
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Iran Back In Context
Author: Kambiz Zarrabi
Kamran Zarrabi has just completed writing his memoirs of his 2011 trip to Iran. The manuscript called "Iran, Back in Context" also contains the accounts of several interviews with a broad cross section of people, photographs, and details of travels to remote areas of the country.
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