jump to navigation

Why Obama Rejected Peace With Iran October 24, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Imperialism, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS/ISIL, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, War.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Roger’s note: This is one critic’s analysis of the geopolitical realities that maintain the Bush/Obama doctrine of permanent war, Middle East division.  Whether or not all the players (Shia, Sunni, Isis, Isil, Kurds, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey etc.) are correctly ordered and the power relationships perfectly defined, what is true is that it is all about markets and oil. That is, the business and profit making elements of capitalist economy, backed by governments’ foreign policies and military might, are what determine the course of action.  The needs, desires, dreams, rights, etc. of living human beings are trumped by the capitalist Behemoth.  I for one cheered when Obama was forced not to attack Syria earlier in the year (remember sarin gas?) and opened for the fist time in decades a dialogue with Iran with the possibility of resolving the nuclear issue and thereby ratcheting down the tensions between the U.S. and a major middle east power.  But as it turns out, it was too good to be true.  The drive to protect economic interests (read: corporate and military) wins out again.  

I want to repeat something I posted yesterday from an article by Murray Dobbin about the Ottawa shootings, a quote from Zbigniew Brzezinski :

We are supposed to learn as children that actions have consequences so I suppose we are left to conclude that current leaders of the Anglo-industrialized countries (in particular) were badly neglected by their parents. A monstrous and catastrophic failure of imagination on the part of the West has led us to this point. The first failure belonged to Zbigniew Brzezinski one of the key architects of the mujahideen war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Before the US armed, financed and trained the then-handful of religious zealots opposed to the godless Soviets, they were a threat to no one.

In an interview that appeared in CounterPunch in 1998   Brzezinski revealed his limited imagination when asked if he regretted creating Islamic terrorists: “What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

The answer is in.

 

WEEKEND EDITION OCTOBER 24-26, 2014, http://www.counterpunch.org

by SHAMUS COOKE

How did Obama manage to botch U.S. foreign policy so stunningly? The promising speeches he gave in 2008 earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. But his inspiring words have since been buried in the rubble of Libya, Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. The region that once viewed Obama as a peace messiah now rejects him as a warmonger. And with every new foreign policy zigzag Obama only finds fresh “threats” while never managing to find the path to peace.

Obama would like peace in theory, but doing so requires he shake up his Middle East alliances. The U.S. stands pigeonholed in tightly-wound alliances with the most hated regimes in the world, sandwiched between the global pariah Israel and the brutal totalitarian dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. The other important U.S. ally is war-hungry expansionist Turkey, while the smaller U.S. allies are the remaining Gulf state monarchy dictatorships.

Allies like these make peace impossible. Obama recognizes that these friends restrict the ability of the U.S. to retain regional credibility. Consequently, there has been much speculation about a massive shift in U.S. alliances that hinges on peace with Iran, possibly supplemented by strengthening the alliance with Iraqi Kurds.

Americans and Iranians would celebrate a peace between nations, but this scenario now seems off the table. After “talking” peace with Iran for the first time in decades, Obama chose the warpath yet again.

This decision was finalized recently when the “ISIS deal” was struck between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, again cementing this ugly alliance. In exchange for Saudi Arabia attacking ISIS, the U.S. would commit to war against the Syrian government, which the Saudis want toppled to undermine their rival Iran. The Syrian rebels that Saudi Arabia agreed to train — with $500 million from U.S. taxpayers — will be used against the Syrian government, not to fight ISIS. The U.S. allies in the region understand the war against the Syrian government as a first step to war against Iran.  Even if a nuclear deal is struck between the U.S. and Iran the path to war will have been set.

Economics is a key reason that U.S. allies want Iran destroyed. Iran stands as a competitor for markets and investment throughout the region, and the destruction of Syria and Iran would open up new markets for the vulture-like U.S. allies. The economic oil war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has recently heated up, with Saudi Arabia selling oil at extra low prices to put political pressure on Iran. This, coupled with the ongoing “economic war” that Obama is waging, has the potential to weaken Iran via internal chaos, softening it up to possible invasion if the Syrian government falls.

Iran’s military is another reason the U.S. wants regime change. There are U.S. military bases scattered around the Middle East, though none in Iran, which has a powerful regional military force that patrols the strategic Strait of Hormuz, jointly controlled by Iran and Oman. It’s intolerable for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that one fifth of the world’s oil production must pass through this Iranian controlled area.

Iran’s regional power is bolstered by its political and religious connections throughout the Middle East. Not only does Shia Muslim Iran exert automatic authority over Shia majority Iraq, but also over Shia Hezbollah and Shia-led Syria. This region-wide dynamic is often referred to as the “Shia Crescent.” There also exist sizable oppressed Shia populations in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Turkey that act as intrinsic political thorns in the sides of these Sunni sectarian governments, giving Iran a powerful political base in each case.

For example, when Saudi Arabia recently announced a death sentence for a popular Shia cleric, Iran responded that there would be “consequences” if the sentence were carried out, thus re-enforcing Iran’s self-portrayed position as “defender of the Shia.”

In Yemen there already exists a strong Shia insurgency against the pro-U.S. Sunni government that is using al-Qaeda-linked fighters against the Shia; the results of the conflict will either empower Iran or weaken it.

These regional religious tensions have been exponentially deepened by the U.S.-led coalition against the Syrian government, which has relied on systematic Sunni Islamic sectarianism to attract jihadist fighters and a flood of Sunni Gulf state donations.

The Sunni fundamentalism in Syria — loosely based on the Saudi fundamentalist version of Islam — views Shia Muslims as heretics worthy of death. The executions of Shia in Syria have reverberated throughout the Middle East, acting as an implicit threat to Shia Iran while increasing tensions in the Shia populations of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and beyond. The regional Shia backlash against the Sunni fundamentalists have strengthened Iran’s regional influence, one likely reason why Obama made the peace-killing deal with Saudi Arabia against ISIS and the Syrian government.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are adamant that the U.S. make no peace with Iran. Both sent strong messages after Obama’s 2013 last minute decision not to bomb the Syrian government, and his brief flirtation with Iran.  Saudi Arabia went as far as refusing a seat on the UN Security Council.  Israel protested the decision too, after it had lobbied heavily in the U.S. Congress through AIPAC to ensure the bombing took place.

The Kurdish Question

Turkey has long assisted the U.S. in attempting to topple the Syrian government, and has recently been insisting on a U.S. enforced “no-fly zone” in northern Syria, which would be directed against the Syrian government, since ISIS has no air force. Turkey has no good intentions in Syria, and has long wanted to grab easy oil-rich land for itself; which happens to be where the Kurdish population in Syria resides.

The call to enforce a no-fly zone to “protect the Kurds” on Turkey’s border, if achieved, will be similar to the no-fly zone in Libya — to create a “humanitarian corridor” — that was used instead to create a massive U.S.-led bombing campaign for regime change.

The Kurdish people face the same situation they’ve faced for hundreds of years: other nations have used the Kurds for their own self-interest. The Kurdish people want and deserve their own independent nation state, but they’ve been betrayed countless times in the past and the situation now seems no different. Promises are made and arms given to the “good” pro-U.S. Iraqi Kurds, while across the border in Turkey another faction of Kurds are labeled terrorists and repressed by the government.

Recently, the Kurdish Syrian town on the border of Turkey was invaded by ISIS and militarily defended by the “bad Kurds” of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who are based in Turkey. The Turkish military watched across the border as ISIS relentlessly attacked Kobani, while the Turks used military force to prevent Turkish Kurds from crossing the border into Syria to help defend the Kurdish city.

This reinforced perceptions that ISIS was, in part, a Turkish creation, since Turkey’s border has long been an uncontested point of entry for foreign jihadists to enter Syria. Turkey defended its actions by essentially equating the Kurdish PYD and PKK with ISIS, dismissing all of them as “terrorists.” In Turkey, Kurdish protests erupted against the government’s actions and inactions in Kobani, leaving 40 dead. Protests also occurred in other Kurdish regions including Iran.

Turkey ultimately proved that it fears the Kurds more than ISIS, and further proved that negotiations with its domestic Kurdish population will never result in an independent Kurdistan on any inch of Turkish territory.  Turkey will likewise be violently opposed to any creation of an independent Kurdish state in Iraq or Syria, since it would empower the Turkish Kurds while preventing Turkey from grabbing the oil-rich regions for itself.

This dynamic acts as an impossible barrier for the Obama administration to “re-balance” its Middle East alliances by using the Kurds. No nation with a sizable Kurdish population — Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria — will buy in to a possible U.S. policy of Kurdish statehood, since they would lose the oil-rich territory that the Kurds live on.

Not only would the U.S. lose regional allies by advocating Kurdish independence, but if such a state were to emerge, it would be a weak nation, since the Kurds are already divided into various factions, and thus not strong enough for the U.S. to rely on to achieve regional objectives.

Consequently, Obama feels compelled to continue down the same war-torn path as his predecessors. But Obama’s perspective is colored by his assumption that the United States must remain the regional power in an area thousands of miles from its border, and that U.S. corporations should dominate the oil, banking, weapons selling, and other markets in the region.

The U.S. is long past the point where it can claim that its Middle East goals are “peace, stability, and democracy,” especially after invading and destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now the dirty war against Syria.  The oil, minerals, and other wealth that attracts the U.S. corporations that steer U.S. foreign policy prevent any real lasting peace to be achieved. The logic of corporate America is to crush the competitor by any means necessary.

Peace with Iran and Syria could be achieved if Obama told the world the truth about the above dynamics in the region, and treated Iran and Syria with the respect that an independent nation deserves, while working to curb the power of Israel and Saudi Arabia, who both depend on U.S. financial, military, and political support.

But instead Obama has dug in his heels and re-enforced alliances that demand the continuation of the Syrian war, and after that Iran. A war-shredded region remains on the bloody path to a potentially even wider war, while the billions of U.S. tax dollars funding this genocide will remain unusable for domestic projects like job creation and climate change reduction and preparedness. During this election season both Democrats and Republicans agree on continuing Middle East war.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

U.S. to Sell Bahrain $53 Million in Military Equipment Following Brutal Crackdown September 27, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 

Roger’s note: this article is a companion piece to an article I posted earlier today, which you can find at https://rogerhollander.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/u-s-consolidat…market-in-2010/

Published on Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by Democracy Now!

The Obama administration has announced plans to sell $53 million worth of military equipment to Bahrain just months after the Gulf state brutally cracked down on Shiite protesters. The proposed sale includes bunker buster missiles, armored vehicles and wire-guided missiles. Maria McFarland of Human Rights Watch criticized the arms deal. McFarland said, “This is exactly the wrong move after Bahrain brutally suppressed protests and is carrying out a relentless campaign of retribution against its critics.”

3 Comments so far

Posted by AlanWatts4Ever
Sep 27 2011 – 11:03am
      So….in an ealier thread someone asked the question: “What is the real reason your average voter ‘loves’ Obama?” I would repeat that question here, right now, at the top of the page. You all have eyes, and a central nervous system, you know what is being told to you, right out in the open, through this medium. So, read the headline, and once again, why is this guy considered a “hero”, a “triumph”, “better-than-Bush” and “Nobel-Prize winning man beloved by blacks and whites alike”? I think he is a pys-ops contruct myself, but I’m a little paranoid….
Posted by Ocean
Sep 27 2011 – 11:18am
      Will Obama’s Bunker Buster “missiles” reach Dimona?
Posted by der
Sep 27 2011 – 1:14pm
      And the US will pay for Bahrain’s military to get additional field training in Israel already skilled at murdering Palestinian Arabs.

Obama’s war January 5, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
Tom Rick
Mon, 01/05/2009 – 11:52am

News flash for the president-elect: All our troops are combat troops. It isn’t like some American soldiers stroll around Iraq unarmed. Nor do the insurgents inquire about the troops’ MOS (military occupational specialties) before detonating an IED. Indeed, I feel safer in Iraq accompanying an infantry unit on foot patrol than I do while riding in a convoy of transport soldiers, who are much more likely to get popped by a roadside bomb. So his promise to get “combat troops” out of Iraq in the next 16 months is a phrase that means much less than it appears to. At any rate, I bet Obama is wrong: I think we are going to have tens of thousands of troops in Iraq — mentoring, advising and engaged in combat — for many years to come.

The recent Status of Forces Agreement also means less than it seems. For example, U.S. forces are supposed to get out of major bases in the cities later this year. But there really aren’t major big bases in the cities now-the last time I was in Iraq I was told there is really only one — and U.S. military advisors will remain in urban outposts along with Iraqi forces. I suspect the SOFA really is most meaningful for the political help it will give Prime Minister Maliki in getting re-elected at the end of 2009 by taking the American presence off the table as a wedge issue for Iraqis. 

Here are two grim early predictions for the new administration in Iraq:

  • Obama’s first year in Iraq is going to be tougher than Bush’s last year. Three reasons for that: First, three rounds of elections are scheduled in 2009, and those tend to be violent in Iraq. Second, the easy U.S. troop withdrawals have been made, and the pullouts at the end of this year will be riskier. Finally, none of the basic existential problems facing Iraq have been answered-the power relationships between groups, leadership of the Shiites, the sharing of oil revenue, the status of the disputed city of Kirkuk, to name just the most pressing ones. Compounding the problem will be the incorrect perception of many Americans that the Iraq was all but over when Obama took office. 
  • Despite the conventional wisdom that the war is nearly over, Obama’s war in Iraq may last longer than Bush’s, which clocks in at a robust 5 years and 10 months. “So now you back in the trap–just that, trapped,” to quote Big Boi and Dre. My best guess is that we will have at least 35,000 troops there in 2015, as Obama’s likely second term is winding down. (Self-promotional moment: more on all this in my book “The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08,” out Feb. 9 from Penguin Press.)

Meantime, marinate a minute on Petraeus’s letter to his troops last month: “The year ahead will contain significant challenges, among them: provincial district and national elections; resilient enemies still carrying out deadly attacks; lingering ethno-sectarian mistrust and competition; malign external influences; and a national referendum on the US-Iraq Strategic Agreement.”

To those who think this thing is almost over: What part of “lingering ethno-sectarian mistrust” don’t you understand? And if you think Petraeus was simply being cautious, listen to former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, who was installed by the United States but whose pessimistic assessment over the weekend was, “I did not imagine the political process would eat itself from inside or that it would abandon the rule of law and establish political sectarianism.”

Photo of Obama with General Petraeus in Iraq by Lorie Jewell/U.S. Army via Getty Images