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06/24/13

Iran And The United States: It Takes Two To Tango; Let The Dance Begin

By Kam Zarrabi, Intellectual Discourse

As reflected in my writings during the past several years, a preemptive military attack on Iran by the United States or Israel has never seriously been in the books, despite the bellicose statements that all options, including military ones, remain on the table.

My reason for steadfastly holding on to this opinion has been that taking such action would lead to many undesired and unintended consequences for all parties concerned, some quite predictably catastrophic, which would not be to anyone's advantage. Neither the United States, nor Israel, and certainly not the region as a whole, would benefit in anyway if such threats went beyond politically motivated rhetoric and put into action.

To repeat again, if a military attack upon Iran were ever viewed as strategically beneficial, the United States, with or without Israel's cooperation, would have taken that step under many conveniently packaged pretexts and with the full support of the neoconservative and pro-Zionist-driven US Congress.

That is not to say that promoting and helping to bring about a regime change in the Islamic Republic of Iran has not been the main objective of America's foreign policy, wisely perceived or not. Extended efforts were made to promote, establish and support a reasonably stable replacement for the current regime, which was expected to view the capitulation to the West, headed by the United States, as not only the safest option to ensure the security of the nation, but also the best way toward economic prosperity for Iran, just as was the thinking in the pre revolution Iran. This was a futile formula to start with. The Islamic Republic of Iran proved to be too stubborn a nut to crack.

With every passing decade since the Islamic Revolution, year after year to this day, the nation has managed to weather through extremes of economic and political pressures by the world's powerhouses, as well as the socioeconomic restrictions deemed by the state to be necessary to maintain Iran's independence, territorial integrity and national prestige. The biggest test has not been surviving against the increasingly more severe economic sanctions against the Iranian population, but the devastating eight-year defensive war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which was, as everyone knows, encouraged and supported by the West in order to cripple the nascent Republic and weaken Iraq's own war machine.

Iran came out of that war broken and crippled, but alive and kicking. The reconstruction of the shattered infrastructure and the developmental projects during the following 25 years after what the Iranians call the Imposed War, have been historically unprecedented, considering all the attempts made by the United States - mostly on behest of the Zionist pressures - to isolate Iran and topple the Islamic regime. The result has been the gradual emergence of the Islamic Republic as the region's powerhouse and a symbol of defiance against external threats, as well as resilient adaptability and self reliance.

In my personal opinion, not until the inauguration of Mr. Obama as President, any serious attention was ever given by the US administrations to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a legitimate powerhouse in the Middle East to be reckoned with and to be brought into any equation that dealt with solving the region's problems. Even this long delayed recognition could not and did not bring about the necessary policy shift toward a rapprochement with Iran, while the ball has clearly stayed in the US court to start the process, or at least respond in a positive way to Iran's gestures welcoming such rapprochement.

Two major obstacles hampered any progress by the Obama administration to negotiate the path toward a rapprochement with Iran. One was, and continues to be, the neoconservative and pro-Zionist influences in the US Congress, which includes both the Republican and the Democrat contingents; and the other, the powerful propaganda machine that has permeated and polluted the public mind through official, as well as the mass media, disinformation tactics. A book by the Rutgers University Professor, Deepa Kumar, titled, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, is a must read for anyone interested in exploring the subject.

Just look at the process through which the public gains access to information in this country. A perfect example was the mass media's coverage of Iran's presidential elections last week. For several days ahead of the event we were told that the CNN anchor, Erin Burnett, would be broadcasting live from Tehran, starting on Friday, June 14, the election day. She shined as usual with her professionally applied makeup and in her colorful "modest" dress, and a head scarf that barely covered her hair. Most ladies whom she interviewed were donned nearly as well, many speaking English fluently. They all wanted freedom from restrictions that hampered their aspirations, and Erin was understandably quite sympathetic with their pleas. What if, as fully expected, another radical ultraconservative like Jalili or Ghalibaf replaces Ahmadinejad, was the fear! But then, the ultimate decision about the affairs of the nation rests in the hands of the Supreme Leader, and he was believed to favor the radical hardliners. At one point I thought I heard her mention a ten-year Tehrani boy who just wanted the freedom to ride his skateboard. I wanted to run and grab my violin and a handkerchief, sobbing in sympathy! 

In short, our gorgeous Ms. Barnett was, as usual, "charmingly" clueless!

On the following Sunday morning show on CNN, starting with the State of the Union program by Candy Crowley, followed by Farid Zakaria's GPS program, no mention was made of the precedent-setting election results in Iran announced officially the day before. I have no doubt that had either Ghalibaf or Jalili won the elections, both programs would have been devoted to the ramifications of the new "Hitlers" on the scene for the "world" to deal with. Here I encourage the readers to click on the link to Nima Shirazi's article for more details.

Another website, Flynt and Hillary Leverett's Going to Tehran page, and their ground-breaking book by the same title, are highly recommended.

I continue to maintain that at the highest Administration levels, i.e. the Executive Branch and its subsidiary organizations,  full awareness of the realities on the ground does exist. The problem has been in the implementation of plans to pursue policies in the Middle East, especially with regard to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which would serve America's honest best interests. This, in short, has been President Obama's biggest foreign policy dilemma.

I, as many other observers and analysts, understood Obama's hesitation and overly cautious approach in addressing the foreign policy issues during his first term in office.  Any bold attempt to swim against the currents of an indoctrinated public's opinion, as well as  the unrelenting Congressional pressures, would have torpedoed his chances for reelection to a second term. As reflected in my previous writings, which those interested could follow on mywebsite, I had predicted a gradual change of course toward a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic to  begin early in 2013 and reach the first visible signs after Iran's own presidential elections and the passing of the baton from Ahmadinejad to the new President, now only a few weeks ahead.

Hillary Clinton's departure as the Secretary of State, clearly to prepare for a presidential run in 2016, and the appointment of Chuck Hagel and John Kerry as Secretaries of Defense and State respectively, were all positive signs that change was to be expected. This, in spite of a continued effort by the neoconservative and pro-Zionist elements who always manage to find their way into the various committees and subcommittees of the House and Senate, slavishly passing anti Iran and blatantly pro-Israel resolutions as though on cue, to cripple any attempt by the Administration to ease the tensions.

It is also understandable that while attempting to ease these ongoing tensions, a veneer of suspicion, even animosity, toward Iran must continue to veil over the true understanding of the issues concerning the US/Iran relations. Additional sanctions against Iran continue to pass through the US Congress and enacted by the President, the last one targeting the Iranian currency. However, as has been the case with previous sanctions regimes, this measure will also fail to achieve its advertised goal of bringing about a regime change by pressuring the Iranian public.

It is time to acknowledge the realities on the ground in the Middle East  

The Islamic Republic of Iran is here to stay for the long haul. Any change in attitude or policy regarding Iran's foreign affairs, regardless of who the Supreme Leader or the President might be, will be gradual and on a reciprocal basis. Iran, unlike most its Arab neighbors, is a truly independent state and no longer subservient to the dictates of any superpower.

Iran's military capabilities and aspirations, whatever they might prove to be, have remained fundamentally defensive. Even its direct and indirect involvements and engagements cross borders in Afghanistan, Iraq, even as far as Syria and Lebanon providing weapons and training for its regional allies, have been in reaction to extra-regional attempts to destabilize the Middle East stage to pressure the Islamic Republic into submission. Here, as it must be quite obvious, I consider Israel as an extension of these extra-regional powers.

Iran's nuclear program is the inalienable right of the country under international law, whether or not, but even more so, since Iran is a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty. Iran's nuclear development has been solely aimed at power generation and medical uses, and there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary. That is not to say that the technical expertise or the capability to develop nuclear weapons does not exist. But, as it has been repeatedly declared by the Iranian regime, acquiring atomic weapons is not the policy of the state at this time. Iran is quite capable of deterring and responding to any military attack and inflicting serious damage to any hostile intrusion without the use of nuclear weapons.

The Islamic Republic has genuine security concerns considering covert, and sometimes even declared, sabotage and terror operations by Special Ops forces and even terrorist groups who are funded and directed by Israel, the United States and certain Arab states. Even though the Iranian government has thus far shown tremendous restraint in responding to the assassination of its nuclear scientists and other acts of sabotage by the Israeli Mossad and its operatives, such as the Mojahedin (MEK) terrorist group, such cautious restraint should not be viewed as weakness or complacency, but rather as a signal that Iran prefers to avoid exacerbating the regional unrest by fanning the fire of hostilities.

I am convinced that singling out Iran's nuclear issue, human rights violations and support for terrorism, have been highly exaggerated and used as pretexts to pressure the Islamic Republic to abandon its independent "rogue!" status and fall back into the West's fold. Rather than pursuing policies that might encourage Iran to willingly and for its own national interests opt for a mutually advantageous symbiosis with the West, the United States has been working against its own strategic interests by adopting counterproductive approaches toward the Islamic Republic.

It is time for change.

Iran-Syria-Lebanon Axis

What has been termed "Jihadism" and militant Islamic radicalism do exist, not only in the Middle East, but in regions as far away from the Middle East as North and Central Africa, all the way through southeast Asia, and even the Caucasus. But labeling the Islamic Republic of Iran as a radical Islamic state, unpredictable and irresponsible, as have the Israeli leaders and many Israel firsters here in the United States, is in fact the politically motivated irresponsible act.

Similarly labeling Lebanon's Hezbollah as a terrorist organization simply because it has responded to Israeli terrorism and military assaults, is clearly bowing to Zionist pressures.

Syria has been a special case. Since its inception after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and after gaining its independence from the French rule, Syria has been home to an increasing population of mixed ethnicities, religions and languages. The dictatorial rule by one tribal group, the Alawites, has managed to maintain a level of stability among the diverse populations that also hosts a huge number of refugees from Iraq and elsewhere.

For Iran, Syria has served as a strategic ally, both during the Iraq/Iran war and afterwards monitoring Iraq's western frontiers while Iran was guarding its own border areas with Iraq during the American invasion of that country. Syria also served as a conduit for Iran's access to Lebanon (Hezbollah). While the Shei'ism connection with Iran has played a role in Iranian government's support for the movement that represents a large majority of Lebanon's population, the main reason for that support is no doubt more pragmatically strategic. Hezbollah has been a thorn on Israel's side and, like Syria, the first line of defense against any Israeli incursion into the greater Middle East.

Those familiar with the strategic blueprint drawn up for Israel's ultimate control over the region remember the resolution Clean Break; Securing the Realm drafted in 1997 for Mr. Netanyahu during his first term as the Prime Minister.  Shortly after, the same group of strategic thinkers, plus several other neocons and Zionist supporters formed the think-tank Project for the New American Century, with the purpose of pursuing the same policies, this time in the pretext of serving America's own imperial interests! And, that is how the war on Iraq began in earnest!

Lebanon and Syria were to be next, and then the Islamic Republic of Iran, no less. Even though the think-tank has been defunct for some years, the momentum of America's involvement in the Middle East, deliberately and erroneously termed war on terror, continues. A better term would have beenwar of terror to serve Israel's perceived interests!

Israel and the Zionist Connections

Israel's survival, indeed its very existence, depends on the support of its principle benefactor, the United States. Historically, the state of Israel resembles an organ transplant into a host body that would not tolerate that non indigenous, alien implant. It has required heavy doses of anti-rejection measures in the form of money, arms and diplomatic support by the United States, as well as subsidies from the post WWII Germany, to allow the implant to develop deeper roots in order to remain sustainable. Ethnically, culturally and historically, the Jewish state never belonged in that part of the world, and doesn't to this day. It is like having an independent state called New Mongolia for persecuted populations fleeing the oppressive communist regimes of post WWII period, by carved out a section of Wyoming, legitimized by claiming ancestral connections to the migrant North Siberians 14,000 years ago! This is not intended as a joke.

While the economic costs to Israel's chief benefactor have not been more than a fraction of one percent of America's GDP, the negative ramifications of America's unequivocal support for Israel, resulting in an increasingly skewed foreign policy toward the Middle East, have been immense. 

The compelling forces that have been driving this inordinate and almost kneejerk support for anything that has to do with Israel are rooted in the volcanically active substrate underlying America's democratic, capitalistic, entrepreneurial  landscape. There is no need to go into details of how this capitalistic Petri Dish provided the perfect environment for the growth into, and later near complete domination over, America's sociopolitical life. America's mass media, i.e., the news/information and entertainment industries, the channel through which the public's mindset is formulated, have been controlled by a mere handful of corporations and individuals with clear pro-Israel sympathies. Any criticism of Israeli government's policies or exposition of its illegal or even heinous atrocities against the Palestinians, or aggressions against its neighbors, is discredited and portrayed as racially motivated anti-Semitism.  In other words, this ingeniously masterful tactic equates political Zionism with Judaism as a religion and an ethnic identity.

Another powerful and often-used manipulative tactic to tap into public's sympathy, done in some of the most subtle ways, is the claim of equivalency between Israel and the United States on moral, ethical and doctrinal values. And, of course, there is the tragic history of the WWII Holocaust, which continues to be used as a trump card so that we never forget to whom the entire world, especially the kind-hearted and guilt-ridden(!) American nation owes a permanent debt!

More significantly, the Zionist lobby and its many tentacles have long penetrated America's legislative bodies, the United States Congress. The Senate confirmation Hearing of Chuck Hagel as the new Secretary of Defense was the most compelling exhibition of Zionist power in America's political sphere.

In addition to Israel's direct influence over America's foreign policy in the middle East, there are other powerful manipulative factors that the Israeli regimes employs to pursue its agendas. From its establishment as a Jewish state, Israel has had three primary objectives: territorial expansion; invulnerability against external - and internal - threats; and comprehensive support at all levels by the United States. To ensure that its objectives remain viable, Israel's regional strategies have served very well:

Israel benefits from regional instabilities and unrest. These are portrayed to be threats to the West's and particularly to America's strategic and economic interests, therefore necessitating American indulgence, including military presence, in the region.

Israel has always needed an enemy or enemies who threaten to cause harm to the Jewish state. The bigger and badder the threat, the bigger and better the windfall of military and financial support for Israel.

In a Machiavellian way, Israel also benefits by grossly exaggerating the imaginary "existential" threats against itself to also appear as a threat to supposedly its own Arab ill-wishers, such as the Saudis and other Gulf emirates. This charade gives Pentagon the excuse to convince these oil-rich Arab states to buy tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment from the United States, for which, considering budget shortcomings, our military/industrial complex is very thankful. Israel benefits from such theatrics by demanding even bigger and better gifts of military equipment in order to maintain its guaranteed military superiority over all its adversaries combined!

With "existential" threats against it, Israel has, we are told by our illustrious Congress, every right to defend itself, even preemptively, whether such threats are real, imminent or existential; and the United States is supposed to assist Israel to prevent any harm that might come its way as a result!

As perhaps the greatest bonus for Israel by masterminding this Machiavellian stage, while the world, particularly the United States, is dealing with the War on Terror, the Syrian dilemma that now threatens to spread throughout the region, Iran's nuclear "ambitions", problems in Egypt, etc., how could anyone pay attention to the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, the expansion of Illegal Israeli settlements and other Israeli atrocities in the occupied Palestinian lands?

America's Dilemma

Having lost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars during the twelve years of the so-called War on Terror, and having basically destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in the process, it is time for the United States to dig itself out of that quagmire, gracefully or not. Starting those wars was wrong to start, as many now say, not because we fell into them as the result of faulty intelligence about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the wrong hands, but because the entire campaign was driven by other than America's best national interests. It is high time to get out of there as soon as possible.

There are irresponsible warmongers in our Administration who believe America hasn't done enough to stem the tide of anti-American terrorism and Islamic radicalism, and want to see more overt involvement and engagement by the United States wherever such threats exist. Some, as we have seen, are Zionist zealots, some owe their debts to the Zionist lobby for its financial and promotional support, others are flag-waving hyper patriots who refuse to admit the futility of trying to achieve some praiseworthy victory in an unworthy war, and still others are mindless ultraconservatives who seek lofty political positions in a rejuvenated Republican platform come next elections. The readers should not have a difficult time deciding who falls into which category.

The current situation in Syria is the best test of US Administration's brinksmanship that would determine the future course of America's policies in the Middle East.

President Obama is caught between a rock and a hard place here. He knows that the Syrian regime, contrary to what seemed inevitable a couple of years ago, is not going to fall apart. He also knows that without Iran's consent, plus Russian and Chinese cooperation, there will be no solution to the Syrian problem. He further knows that getting involved any deeper in that civil war will not only prove futile, it will also prove extremely unpopular with the American public. Supporting the various disparate rebel groups is yet another highly problematic proposition. Quite significantly, the region's chief troublemaker, Israel, would rather have the Ba'athist Alawite regime, the enemy they know, in charge rather than the militant Jihadi and terrorist groups that now form the main opposition forces against the regime.

This is exactly why the arming of the rebel forces in Syria by the United States and the EU is under great scrutiny, and the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria is put on hold.

America's, and especially President Obama's biggest dilemma is dealing with the Jewish state and keeping that troublemaker on a short leash. In spite of all the public gestures of brotherly love and unwavering devotion and support toward Israel by official US pronouncements, the true feelings at the highest levels of the Administration are not a well-kept secret. Whether in private conversations or when the microphones were mistakenly left on, the honest opinions among practically all world leaders are far from complementary toward the policies of Israel. For Obama, Israel is an unavoidable evil he, like his predecessors, has to deal with.

When Bebe Netanyahu jumps up and down like a clown, pleading for help from his benefactor and threatening to take unilateral action to defend the Jewish state against another Hitler and avoiding a new Holocaust, the American people, thanks to the mass media accommodators, pay attention. The Administration cannot discount such threats by exposing them for what they are: the usual extortion tactics by the Israeli scenarists who feign taking desperate actions against imaginary imminent threats, designed to fool the gullible American public into believing that they might have to drag the United States into another costly and unpopular war!! Through such theatrics, Israel portrays itself as a wonderful partner and ally that is willing to sacrifice its own best interests by refraining from taking necessary actions that might inconvenience its big benefactor, and for which we owe Israel big-time!

The United States and the Islamic Republic - What Next?

I have been of the opinion for a long time that behind the veil of accusations, suspicions and animosities between the two countries, there lies an understanding that a rapprochement, a mutually advantageous relationship, is not only possible but essential for the best interests of both the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

To begin, the biggest enemies of the United States, the sources of international terrorism, are also Iran's worst enemies and troublemakers. Having passed the trials by fire during the past three decades, Iran has shown to be the dominant force, economically and politically, in the region. It has also shown that its intentions have never been aggressive toward it neighbors or rivals. With its natural wealth in hydrocarbon and mineral resources, Iran can be the region's dominant economic and industrial power, if it isn't already. Absent all the radical groups who are encouraged and funded to destabilize the region, Iran could be the logical candidate to provide a measure of stability and tranquility in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Syria.

There remains one source of potential trouble that could disrupt any resolution between the United States and Iran, namely Israel. The Israeli government knows that Iran is not and cannot be a threat, existential or not, to the Jewish state. Iran and the United States also know that Israel will never make a mistake of launching an attack on Iran, which would open the gates of hell and devastate the entire region, including the aggressor and its supporters.

All Israel really wants is a continuation of financial, military and diplomatic support by the United States, and the freedom to do what it wants with regard to the Palestinians, whether it be bringing them peacefully into submission, or forcing them out into Jordan or elsewhere. The United States can and will provide the first, and Iran will not stand in the way of the second. So, let the clown throw his temper tantrums, feed the monster, he'll get over it!

The election of Mr. Rouhani as the new President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a huge surprise in the West, signified two important points: Iranian elections are, in fact, fair and honest; and the Supreme Leader is not the sole and ultimate decision maker as has been portrayed here by the Western media. Iran's "system" of governance is quite sophisticated and has greater "depth" than many believe. The system is not going to fall apart should Ayatollah Khamaneh'i pass away, as he surely will some day.

The election of Hassan Rouhani, a highly educated, moderate, reform minded cleric, is the signal we need here in the United States that the long awaited pretexts do finally exist to try a rapprochement with Iran. The Iranian people are also ready. There is a new optimism among even the skeptical North Tehranis, especially now that Iran's national soccer team is headed to Brazil after defeating South Korea.

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

My Final Farewell

This time I am serious.

For two reasons I have chosen to stop writing opinion articles dealing with political issues.

1- I have already said everything I needed to say regarding the United States/Iran relations. And I am proud to say that my analyses and predictions in the past 10 years, ever since my articles were posted and published, have not been far off the mark. Going back, I wouldn't revise any of my writings; and writing any more articles on this subject would prove to be a repetition or regurgitation of the same old stuff.  

I do have great hopes, even expectations, that the US/Iran relations are due for a positive turn and before too long. I expect to see meaningful changes, such as the lifting of many sanctions, to begin as early as this year.

2- The time I have left I would prefer to devote to completing several manuscripts and getting them ready for publication, none of which has anything to do with politics!

Other recent articles by Kam Zarrabi:

... Payvand News - 03/25/16 ... --



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