[Marxism] Heinberg......Onward to Iran
jonflanders at jflan.net
Mon Mar 7 14:14:36 MST 2005
I think this one is important enough to copy to the list in full.
Published on Monday, March 7, 2005 by MuseLetter.com
Onward to Iran
By Richard Heinberg
MuseLetter 155 (March 2005)
In the weeks after 9/11/2001, George W Bush announced the existence of
an "Axis of Evil" comprised of the nations of Iraq, Iran, and North
Korea. In speeches that followed, he implied that he regarded it
desirable to achieve "regime change" in all three countries. In the
years since, the first of the three, Iraq, has been invaded and reduced
to a desolate landscape of violence and hopelessness.
In speeches since the November 2004 elections, Bush and his new
secretary of state Condoleeza Rice have spoken of a "War on Tyranny",
which is presumably intended to replace the now-shopworn War on Terror.
The semantic shift reveals much about Washington's plans for the next
four years. The new campaign will imply no need to justify pre-emptive
attacks based on other nations' possession of banned weapons. Washington
can simply target regimes it dislikes, even democratic ones, on the
basis of their reputed "tyrannical" nature. Evidently the manipulation
of elections has become such an exact science (not only within the US,
but elsewhere as well) that "freedom" and "democracy" can be exported
wholesale in slogan form with considerable propaganda effect, but with
no danger whatever to the interests of those who call the shots.
Potential targets for the War on Tyranny, compiled from the statements
of various government officials, include Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Yemen,
Malaysia, Somalia, Indonesia, and Georgia - countries strategically
critical to the Administration's goal of controlling global energy
resource extraction and transportation routes.
In every leaked or published list, Iran is the first nation mentioned.
There are good reasons to assume that a US campaign against Iran will
commence within months and that this will serve to open the next and
much expanded phase of what is actually the Global Oil War of the 21st
century. Because of Tehran's connections with other countries
troublesome to the US - including China, Russia, and Venezuela - the
campaign in Iran will be the key to a planned clean sweep of nations
impeding America's "full spectrum dominance".
What follows is partly speculation; however, there is now enough
information available upon which to base plausible conjectures as to
intentions, likely actions, and consequences.
History and Background
But first let us consider the geographic and historical context of the
The country now known as Iran (ancient Persia) was a center for
pre-Islamic Indo-European culture since the second millennium BCE, and
for Islamic culture since the fifth century CE. It was the birthplace of
Zoroastrianism, the home of Sufi poet Rumi, a site of empires and a
frequent object of conquest.
In the early 19th century, Persia began to fall under the rival
commercial and imperial attentions of Britain and Russia, serving as a
pivot for the Great Game of Eurasian geopolitics.
In 1901, an Australian explorer named William Knox D'Arcy managed to
persuade the Persian shah to grant him mineral rights to the country for
sixty years in exchange for GBP 20,000 and a 16% share of the proceeds.
D'Arcy then began prospecting for oil, which he found in 1908. Iranian
history from then on has hinged on this discovery.
Britain had meanwhile realized the strategic importance of petroleum for
the future of industrial production and warfare (the British war fleet
was converting from coal to oil) and was seeking secure supplies of the
resource in the Middle East. Sidney Reilly, the famous British spy,
talked D'Arcy into parting with his contract, and thus was born the
Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which would later become British Petroleum or
In 1921 Reza Khan, an army officer, organized a coup d'etat that left
him as the country's shah and founder of the Pahlavi dynasty. The new
shah acted to modernize the country while also managing to negotiate
better terms with BP. In 1935, with the nation coming under increasing
pressure from both Britain and Russia, the shah encouraged German
commercial enterprise and changed the country's name from Persia to Iran
(Farsi for "Aryan") Britain and the Soviet Union simultaneously invaded
Iran in 1941 and quickly overcame Iranian resistance. Reza Shah
abdicated in favor of his son, who ascended the throne as Mohammad Reza
Shah Pahlavi. In September 1943, Iran declared war on Germany.
After the war, Iran's Prime Minister, a land-owning aristocrat named
Mohammad Mosaddeq, nationalized BP's exclusive concession in order to
satisfy the country's growing need for revenue to pay for modernization.
With this nationalization of its oil fields Iran would come to serve as
an example for other resource-rich Third-World countries. Mosaddeq, a
flamboyant populist leader, spoke prominently at the United Nations and
was the 1951 Time Magazine Man of the Year. Britain, furious, blockaded
Iran and took its case against Mosaddeq to the World Courtwhich ruled in
In 1953 British intelligence and the CIA colluded to overthrow Mosaddeq,
with General Norman Schwartzkopf - father of the leader of the American
forces during the Desert Storm operation in 1990 - playing a key role in
the plot. Once Mosaddeq was gone (he spent his declining years under
house arrest and died in 1967), the shah assumed dictatorial powers,
granted oil rights to a consortium of British and American companies,
and established close ties with the US.
Over the ensuing quarter-century, Shah Reza Pahlavi led efforts to
industrialize his country, commissioning nuclear power plants from
France and Germany during the early 1970s. In 1978, he refused BP's
proposal for a 25-year renewal of its oil extraction agreement. The shah
had outlived his usefulness.
In his book A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Geopolitics and the New
World Order, William Engdahl sets forth the view that the fall of the
Pahlavi dynasty and the installation of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 were
engineered by British intelligence and the CIA as part of a Washington
strategy, proudly masterminded by Zbigniev Brzezinski, to stoke the
fires of radical Islam throughout the Middle East in order to undermine
efforts at Arab nationalism. The thought was that countries like Iran
and Iraq could be played off against one another, then later the US
could sweep in and pick up the pieces. The radical Islamists would also
serve to undermine Soviet ties in the region: they were at the center of
the Afghanistan war against the USSR and assisted in the later Balkans
campaigns. They also would later provide a convenient new enemy to
replace the Soviet Union after the end of the Cold War.
Covert connections between the new Iranian theocratic leadership and the
incoming Reagan administration in the US were demonstrated by the
so-called October Surprise, which spelled the end of Jimmy Carter's
presidency, and the guns-for-hostages deal, also known as the
The Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) appears to have been covertly fomented by
the US (which encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack) in order to weaken
both countries - Iran being supported by Syria and Libya and receiving
weaponry from North Korea and China (as well as the US), Iraq enjoying
wider support among both Arab and Western nations with the Soviet Union
its largest arms supplier. War deaths were estimated at up to 1.5
Khomeini died in 1989, and political power in Iran passed largely to
president Rafsanjani, a more moderate leader (though the mullahs
retained supreme authority). Rafsanjani, who sought better relations
with the West in order to attract investment capital, was succeeded in
1997 by Khatami, the current president, also a moderate, who has pursued
improved relations with the US and Saudi Arabia. However, as an Islamic
Republic, Iran often spouts anti-American rhetoric, and has recently
courted closer economic and security ties with Russia and China.
Iran's oil endowment is both its treasure and its curse. According to
Colin Campbell (writing in ASPO newsletter #32), about 120 billion
barrels of oil have been found in Iran, which made it a significant
producer throughout the 20th century:-
Most of the discovery to-date lies in a few giant fields ...
which were mainly found by the Consortium in the 1960s based on
prospects long known to BP's explorers ... There have been
recent reports of major discoveries at Bushehr, but it turns out
that they are almost certainly long-known deposits of high
sulphur heavy oil of no particular significance ... Future
discovery is here estimated at about 8 trillion barrels,
probably mainly coming from the offshore.
Campbell notes that Iran, a co-founder of OPEC in 1961, has the "typical
twin-peaked [oil production] profile of an OPEC country":-
The first peak was passed in 1974 at 6.1 million barrels per
day, falling to a low of 1.2 million barrels per day in 1980,
before recovering to 3.4 million barrels per day in 2002. Some
reports suggest that depletion of present reserves is running as
high as 7%, which may reflect operational shortcomings and lack
of investment ... [P]roduction could in resource terms rise to a
second peak in 2009 at almost 5 million barrels per day before
commencing its terminal decline at 2.6% a year, but operational
and investment constraints may prevent such a level being
reached in practice, with 3-4 million barrels per day peak being
perhaps more likely. Naturally, any new invasion would radically
affect this forecast.
Campbell also notes that "The country's gas resources were very large
indeed, totaling some 1000 trillion cubic feet". Iran currently exports
about 2.3 million barrels of oil per day (the world uses about 85
million barrels per day).
Why Would the US Attack Iran?
At first thought, it seems a US attack on Iran would seem foolish, given
that the American military is already bogged down in neighboring Iraq.
However, there are three important reasons why the Administration might
be more than willing take up the immense risks involved.
The first, which is the one most widely discussed, is that Iran is
reputedly seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Most Western intelligence
agencies estimate that Iran is three to five years away from being able
to produce bombs from scratch. However, missile delivery systems are
already in place that could loft warheads to cities in Israel, or to
American bases throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. America is
willing to countenance Pakistan's and Israel's nuclear capability, but
these nations work with the US; Iran, in contrast, is independent and is
making its own security deals with China, Russia, and Venezuela, and
would be considered a threat to Israel. From the Iranian perspective,
though, the development of a nuclear deterrent makes perfect sense in
view of the recent US invasion of neighboring Iraq.
The second reason has to do with the challenge that Tehran presents to
the US economy. According to recent news articles emanating from Iran,
that country is planning to establish a regional oil exchange stock. A
December 28 2004 article in the London-based online publication
IranMania.com notes that:-
Iran will move a step closer to establishing its much-publicized
oil exchange next week, when the Oil Ministry and the Ministry
of Economic Affairs and Finance are set to sign a memorandum of
understanding (MoU), which will set the ground for the
high-profile initiative. Hossein Talebi, the National Iranian
Oil Company's director for information technology affairs, told
Fars news agency that the project would enter the executive
phase immediately after the MoU is signed. The official further
said that petrochemicals, crude oil and oil and gas products
will be traded at the petroleum exchange. "The oil exchange
would strive to make Iran the main hub for oil deals in the
region", he said, adding that most deals will be conducted
through the Internet ... Iran announced in September its
petroleum exchange will become operational by March 2006 ...
As William Clark argues in his forthcoming book Petrodollar Warfare (New
Society, summer 2005), the denomination of global oil sales in US
dollars has kept the American dollar artificially strong throughout the
period from 1974 to present, enabling Washington to run up huge
foreign-funded government debt and trade deficits. Tehran's action,
whether or not deliberately calculated to do so, could cause a dollar
crash. Iraq was the first nation to announce intentions to sell oil for
euros instead of dollars (in November 2000), and one of the first acts
of the provisional government put in place by in invading US forces was
to return oil sales to the dollar standard. In an article titled "The
Real Reasons Why Iran is the Next Target: The Emerging Euro-denominated
International Oil Marker" (October 27, 2004,
(globalresearch.ca/articles/CLA410A.html )), Clark notes that:-
Similar to the Iraq war, upcoming operations against Iran relate
to the macroeconomics of "petrodollar recycling" and the
unpublicized but real challenge to US dollar supremacy from the
euro as an alternative oil transaction currency ... Candidly
stated, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a war designed to install a
pro-US puppet in Iraq, establish multiple US military bases
before the onset of Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to
petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum
towards the euro as an alternative oil-transaction currency ...
From a purely economic and monetary perspective, a petroeuro
system is a logical development given that the European Union
imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the US and the EU
accounts for 45% of imports into the Middle East ... One of the
Federal Reserve's nightmares may begin to unfold in 2005 or
2006, when it appears international buyers will have a choice of
buying a barrel of oil for $50 dollars on the NYMEX and IPEor
purchase a barrel of oil for 37 to 40 euros via the Iranian
Bourse ... A successful Iranian bourse would solidify the
petroeuro as an alternative oil-transaction currency, and
thereby end the petrodollar's hegemonic status as the monopoly
oil currency ...
A third reason for the US to invade Iran arises from long-term American
geopolitical strategy: Iran is one of the few important oil exporters
without a US military presence (others include Russia and Venezuela).
Further, Iran is strategically located between Afghanistan and Iraq,
bridging the Middle East and Central Asia, and its control is thus
essential for US domination of those oil-rich regions.
With the approach of Peak Oil, the world has entered the end-game phase
of the industrial interval. If the US does not gain a stranglehold on
world resource streams, then China - now the world's main consumer of
steel, grain, meat, and coal - will do so. Already China is gaining
long-term oil contracts in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, and Nigeria;
the Chinese are even seeking a sizeable portion of Canadian oil
production, and have actually attempted to buy an American oil company
(Unocal). While on the surface the US and China are politely trading
(Americans buy cheap Chinese goods, the Chinese invest their earnings in
US Treasury Bills in order to enable Americans to afford even more
Chinese imports), beneath the surface both are angling for a superior
position as the final game begins. If the US merely stands by, its
economy will be destroyed when China eventually sells off its dollar
holdings, and America will land on the ash heap of failed empires. The
latter's only hope of continued glory is to play its remaining strong
card - its spectacularly lethal weapons of mass death - in an effort to
maintain control of global resource flows.
The US faces immense risks in an attack, as will be discussed below.
However, given its stated priorities, it can hardly demur from taking up
Evidence that an Attack Is in the Planning Stages
In an article in The New Yorker dated January 17 2005 veteran
investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that US commando teams
have been operating in Iran for months, carrying out secret
reconnaissance missions to learn about nuclear, chemical, and missile
sites in preparation for possible air strikes. Hersh also says that the
administration's aims could include not just the thwarting of Iran's
nuclear ambitions, but regime change as well.
Citing a former high-level intelligence official, Hersh claims that
secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff
shortly after the election "and told them, in essence, that the
naysayers had been heard and the American people did not accept their
"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign.
The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone",
the former high-level intelligence official told me. "Next,
we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and
the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last
hurrah - we've got four years, and want to come out of this
saying we won the war on terrorism."
While Administration officials dispute Hersh's allegations, other
reporters and news agencies are publishing corroborating information. An
Al Jazeera article published February 6, titled "US-Israel plan to
strike Iran's nuclear sites finalized", claimed that:-
Experts from the US Defense Department, the Pentagon and Israel
have put final touches to a plan to launch a military strike
targeting Iran's nuclear facilities, experts at the European
Commission based in Brussels, revealed on Sunday. The experts
added that the implementation of this plan rested on a number of
factors including the US continuous efforts to hamper the
EU-Iranian negotiations to persuade Iran to suspend all
activities related to uranium enrichment, with the aim of
justifying a military strike against the Islamic republic if it
refused to bow to US pressures. Yesterday, American news sources
reported that US senators have set up a review panel of the
CIA's intelligence on Iran in order to try and avoid the
pitfalls that marked the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Meanwhile, Bush has announced the appointment of Elliott Abrams,
previously in charge of Middle East affairs, to the office of deputy
national security adviser. Abrams, who pleaded guilty in 1991 to
withholding information from Congress (and was pardoned by G H W Bush),
will now be supervising the current president's strategy for "advancing
democracy", according to the Washington Post. Many regard Abrams as one
of the foremost proponents of the neoconservative agenda in Washington;
he authored the chapter on the Middle East in the 2000 blueprint for US
foreign policy by the Project on the New American Century (PNAC).
Many observers do not appreciate how different the neoconservative
mindset is from that of the previous foreign policy consensus. For
example the neoconservatives view America's war against the Vietnamese
as a mistake only in that insufficient force was used: several neocons
have opined that the US should have employed whatever means were
necessary, including nuclear weapons, to prevail in that effort.
PNAC literature bristles with complaints, accusations, and threats
directed against Tehran. During the early months of the first term in
the George W Bush administration, neoconservatives were often quoted as
saying, "Everybody wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to
Tehran". William Kristol, on a PNAC web site, after a litany of
indictments of Iran, concludes: "We do need a coherent, serious policy
toward Iran; one of containment, pressure, accountability and,
ultimately, regime change". (July 20 2004)
Bush, in his State of the Union address on February 2, pointedly noted
that "Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror,
pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they
seek and deserve".
This past month, Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) was said to be
at work on the "Iran Freedom and Support Act", a bill apparently
designed to help prepare America psychologically for an attack on
Tehran. Santorum told Fox News that "By supporting the people of Iran,
and through greater outreach to pro-democracy groups, we will hopefully
foster a peaceful transition to democracy in Iran. The bill also notes
the futility of working with the Iranian government."
Meanwhile the new US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, is sending
conflicting signals. On February 4 she claimed a US attack on Iran "is
simply not on the agenda", though she would not say whether the US
supports regime change in the country. Yet only five days later she
warned Iran of consequences if its nuclear program is not abandoned.
One can hardly help but recall similar contradictory statements from
officials in the year leading up to the invasion of Iraq.
On February 17, George W Bush pledged to support Israel if it bombs Iran
in an effort to destroy the Islamic regime's capacity to make an atomic
bomb. Asked whether he would back Israel if it raided Teheran's nuclear
facilities, Bush said, "Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd
listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that
regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having
a nuclear weapon as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that
we've made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support
Israel if her security is threatened."
Meanwhile rumors mount. On February 18, Scott Ritter, a former US Marine
and UN weapons inspector in Iraq, in a talk delivered to a packed house
in Olympia's Capitol Theater in Washington State, claimed on the basis
of inside information that George W Bush has "signed off" on plans to
bomb Iran in June 2005.
While European diplomatic efforts seek to head off a military
confrontation, "In private", as Guy Dinsmore notes in a Financial Times
article of February 14 ("Would Condi and Dubbya really Start Another
War?"), "European officials say the best they can do is to buy time,
perhaps to the end of the year".
What would be the likely results of an American attack on Iran?
In the fall of 2004, The Atlantic conducted war games (reported in the
December 2004 issue in an article by James Fallows, titled "Will Iran be
Next?"). The magazine hired retired military strategists to come
together and, in discussions, play out three possible scenarios: a
limited attack on Iran's nuclear research facilities, an air attack on
the Republican Guard designed to destroy Iranian overall military
capability, and an all-out invasion aimed at regime change. Each ended
with unacceptable consequences. The attack on nuclear facilities, the
participants agreed, would be unlikely to stop research and would
probably only redouble Iranian resolve to develop nuclear weapons. An
air attack on Iranian military units would provoke retaliation against
US forces in Iraq. And a full-on invasion would entail US casualties and
an ongoing occupation and guerilla warfare. The war games leader,
retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner (who ran war games at the
National War College for more than two decades), summarized the group's
conclusions: "After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences
for policymakers: You have no military solution for the issues of Iran.
And you have to make diplomacy work."
Nevertheless, despite the counter-productiveness of the likely outcomes,
the war gamers could not rule out the likelihood that the US would
pursue one or more of these strategies: "Companies deciding which kinds
of toothpaste to market have much more rigorous, established
decision-making procedures to refer to than the most senior officials of
the US government deciding whether or not to go to war", said Michael
Mazarr, a professor of national-security strategy at the National War
College. Thomas Hammes, a Marine expert in counter-insurgency, added
that "You can never assume that just because a government knows
something is unviable, it won't go ahead and do it. The Iraqis knew it
was unviable to invade Iran, but they still did it. History shows that
countries make very serious mistakes."
The neoconservatives appear to have a view of the situation that is not
reflected in these war games. They evidently believe that, after the
first strikes, the Iranian regime will simply collapse. Hersh (in The
New Yorker) writes:-
The government is urging a limited attack on Iran because they
believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership.
"Within the soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular
nationalists and reformers, on the one hand, and, on the other
hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement", the consultant told
me. "The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs
enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the
West, the Iranian regime will collapse" - like the former
Communist regimes in Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet
Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said.
However, Hersh notes that Iran experts dispute the likelihood of a quick
collapse of the Tehran regime, and say that a more likely consequence
would be a stiffening of Iranian opposition. Again, one cannot help
recalling how similar expectations were voiced by administration
insiders prior to the Iraq invasionand how those expectations were
dashed. The US administration appears to be cherry-picking expert
advice, accepting only those views that coincide with what higher-ups
want to hear. This is evidently a policy emanating from top levels:
George W Bush himself is said to have told advisors that he wants to
hear only good news. However, the news following an invasion might be
anything but good. According to a Reuters report by Amir Paivar titled
"Iran Promises 'Burning Hell' for Any Aggressor", dated February 10
Iran, facing mounting US pressure over its nuclear program,
promised Thursday a "Burning hell" for any aggressor as tens of
thousands marched to mark the 26th anniversary of its Islamic
revolution. "The Iranian nation does not seek war, does not seek
violence and dispute. But the world must know that this nation
will not tolerate any invasion", President Mohammad Khatami said
in a fiery speech to the crowd in central Tehran. "The whole
Iranian nation is united against any threat or attack. If the
invaders reach Iran, the country will turn into a burning hell
for them", he added, as the crowd, braving heavy snow blizzards,
chanted "Death to America!"
While such threats can mostly be chalked up to bluff and bravado (most
of the Iranian war machinery is outdated and worn), Tehran does
possesses some weapons that are accurate and destructive - far more so
than any used by Saddam Hussein against American forces. An example is
the Russian-made Sunburn cruise missile, specifically designed to defeat
the US Aegis radar defense system and said to be the most lethal
anti-ship weapon in the world.
If attacked, Iran would likely foment a Shi'ite rebellion in Iraq
against US occupation forces, an insurgency that might far surpass in
extent and deadliness the current Sunni-led resistance. Moreover, Tehran
might also unleash its 300 North Korean-engineered Shahab-3 ballistic
missiles on US bases in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan,
and Iraq. If invaded, Iran's tactic would be to wage a guerilla war
similar to that undertaken by the Sunni-led resistance in Iraq. Tehran
has already announced efforts to increase the size of its
seven-million-strong "Basiji" militia forces, which were deployed in
human wave attacks against Iraq during the 1980s. According to news
reports, tens of thousands of rifles are currently being handed out.
A US attack could have serious implications for international relations.
Iran has spent the past few years cementing economic and military ties
with Russia, China, and the EU, and such efforts have intensified
dramatically within past weeks. These nations, to varying degrees, view
the US as a superpower that has outlived much of its usefulness to the
rest of the world. The US is now a liability in many respects: its
immense national debt and trade deficits weigh down the global economy;
its profligate consumption of resources leaves less to go around for
other nations; its refusal to sign the Kyoto accord ensures a century of
environmental collapse; and its arrogant militarism serves to undermine
any hopes for cooperative solutions to future contests over dwindling
resources. No government wants to take on the US militarily. But
Washington appears determined to control the chokepoints of global
resource flows. Thus the leaders of China, Russia - and to a lesser
extent even those of the EU - would in their own view be acting in
self-defense by drawing a line in the sand around Iran. Indeed, in
recent weeks Russia has begun selling some of its more advanced missiles
to Syria, Venezuela, and Iran, just as the US has amped up its rhetoric
against these countries.
What can we expect in the weeks and months ahead? Over the short term we
will see diplomatic wrangling, and the seeding of news stories with
inflammatory comments from unnamed government sources. An example of the
latter is a Reuters article, "Iran Will Know How to Build Bomb in 6
Months - Israel", by Andrew Cawthorne, dated February 15, in which
anonymous Israeli officials are quoted as saying that Tehran is much
closer to having atomic weapons than most US and European experts have
If and when EU talks with Iran break down, China and Russia seem likely
to block any UN Security Council resolution designed to impose sanctions
on Tehran. The US is no more likely to find support for punitive
measures among the G8 nations, since Japan obtains about fifteen percent
of its oil from Iran and has few easy alternative sources to make up the
difference in the event of a trade embargo.
As noted above, the Administration evidently feels that an attack on
Iran will result in a quick collapse of the government, and so Iranian
dissident groups are no doubt being prepared to step into the power
vacuum that might emerge. However, if the neoconservatives are as wrong
here as they were in Iraq and the Tehran regime does not fall, then the
US will be presented with a dilemma. If it withdraws, it will face
defeat and humiliation. But a pursuit of invasion and militarily
enforced regime change will be extremely costly in terms of dollars and
human lives. How to justify either effort to the American people?
Because the likely outcomes are unpalatable, and because the ongoing
occupation of neighboring Iraq is not going well, American officials
would find it nearly impossible to launch an attack on Iran without an
adequate immediate pretext. Therefore Iran must be enticed to attack the
US, or must be made to appear to do so. The most likely scenario would
be for Israel to take the lead in bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. To
Tehran, this would signify US involvement, as Israeli planes would
likely fly over US-controlled Iraqi air space. Iran would then
predictably retaliate against both Israel and the US, perhaps by
launching Scud missiles toward Israel and Sunburn cruise missiles
against one or more American warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. The
loss of an aircraft carrier or battleship with hundreds or thousands of
American sailors on board could then summon a sufficient emotional
response from the American people so that the full resources of the
nation (including an immediate re-institution of the draft) could be
mustered behind a three-pronged invasion of Iran from Iraq, Afghanistan,
and the Gulf.
Alternatively, if Iran did not take the bait and sink a US warship,
Israel could do so under false flag, with the American people being told
that the Iranian mullahs were to blame. Or an American city could be
attacked from within by "terrorists", with Tehran again being assigned
These events are most likely to commence before the end of 2005, as Iran
cannot be permitted to open its oil bourse in March 2006.
Once the chain of events begins, it is anyone's guess how it might
unwind over the ensuing weeks, months, and perhaps even years. It seems
more than likely that China would take this as an opportunity to dump
its dollar holdings on world markets, thus tipping the US economy into a
depression. Russia's response can only be guessed at. Domestically, the
US would likely institute draconian measures to monitor citizens'
"patriotism" and severely restrict the freedoms of those who questioned
the government's actions. And the US might well take the opportunity to
widen the war to Venezuela and other sites of "tyranny" around the
While the Iraq invasion and its aftermath have been immensely
destructive events, there are signs that what is in store will be far,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Heinberg's analysis is remarkably consistent with the article we
published yesterday by rank-breaking long term government insider Ray
McGovern. [See: It Sounds Crazy, But...] Heinberg adds to the picture
the speculation that aggression towards Iran will be made tolerable to
the American people by manufactured or manipulated terrorist attacks or
military strikes. There certainly seems to be enough on the historical
record, such as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Operation Northwoods, etc.,
to justify such concerns - especially as the stakes are now being raised
even higher due to the depleting oil supplies.
Richard graciously allowed us to publish this MuseLetter before he
otherwise intended to be. If in the future you'd like to receive the
MuseLetter by post or email, you can subscribe to it at:
Richard is the author of Powerdown - Options and Actions for a
Post-Carbon World and The Party's Over - Oil, War, and the Fate of
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