Monday, August 21, 2006

i don't have a clue

* Susan asked emptywheel:
" I still can't decipher why exactly Cheney etal want to get into it with Iran in a big way.
Is it the profiteering? To cover up, by complicating, the Iraq disaster? It simply can't be oil, Iran would shut off that pipeline toot-suite. The nuclear thing is too far away to be a real threat right now. So what is it?"

IMO it is the oil, kind of.

US hegemony depends on two things: oil to fuel our fabulous lifestyle. And the dollar as reserve currency, which allows us a lot more budgetary flexibility than anyone else, and which depends on oil-producing countries using the dollar for exchange. To maintain hegemony, we need to (at a minimum) maintain a large military presence in the ME (to make sure we keep the oil flowing and protect our clients there), and make sure that anyone who moves away from dollars on oil exchange is punished. We went to war in Iraq to 1) replace Saudi bases with Iraqi ones, 2) punish Saddam for switching to the euro.

Problem is, with Peak Oil approaching and Chinese and Indian demand skyrocketing, we're probably a (say) year away from shortfalls. So it's no longer enough to just protect our clients, we need to 1) make sure we prevent China and India from acquiring huge chunks of the reserves, 2) actually occupy some oil space.

And, as you point out, we fucked up Iraq, which (if nothing else happens), means the Chinese allied Iranians will gain effective control over some, if not all, of Iraq's oil, not to mention it'll make it hard for us to maintain bases there.

So the Iran invasion is because::

1) It has oil and natural gas and we'd like it
2) It is in the most convenient spot for getting oil and gas out of the Caspiran region, and we'd like to occupy that spot
3) It has threatened to move its oil exchange off the dollar
4) It threatens all the goals we had in Iraq
5) Even left alone, Iran would end up supplying China and allowing it to economically rival the US
6) Our clients are Sunnis; increasing Iranian power threatens to shift the balance of power in the ME to Shiites
if susan has asked me, i'd tell her that i don't have a clue.


noise said...

That is indeed excellent analysis.

The only thing I question is the "We fucked up Iraq" suggestion.

Insufficient troop size. Unstated occupation plans...short term/long term. Debathification. "Greeted w/flowers." Disbanding the Iraqi army. Bremer's privatization plans. Abu Ghraib. No bid contracts. No WMD's. Lack of electricity and water.

IMO, the civilian leadership fucked over the military. Meaning, the corporate agenda (ie...Halliburton) took precedence over actually helping the Iraqi people and setting up a stable government as soon as possible.

Palast in Armed Madhouse and Juhasz in The Bush Agenda make the case that the corporate agenda came first.

LeeB said...


rimone said...

please see Robert Newman's History of Oil (it's here on google vid and only 40 minutes). as i wrote on my site, 'he makes his case that the war in Iraq is ‘a very public punishment beating,’ (for Iraq switching oil sales from dollars to Euros back in 2000). he seamlessly segues into ‘you have to imagine the world as a Bronx housing project and the US as the number one crackdealing mafia Don on the block…’ which all allows him to become a Tony Soprano-tawkin’ motherfucker representing America, hilarious!

but really, apart from the levity, he makes a LOT of good points including Peak Oil.

lukery said...

i'm sticking with "if susan had asked me, i'd tell her that i don't have a clue."

Don said...

5) Even left alone, Iran would end up supplying China and allowing it to economically rival the US

Quick question: how much of the US debt now is owed to China?

Ok, so it's a quick question with a long-and-drawn-out answer, but while all roads lead to Iran, in today's world, those roads hit Iran and combine into a superhighway straight to China.

With the Indian deal, and with a background rumble beginning on Chinese power and escalation, and Nixon acolyte Rummy's still in the picture, is Eastasia, er, China still the goal?

lukery said...

i read a post by stirling today that said that the saudis are a bigger problem (wrt debt) than the chinese

Anonymous said...

One other factor is that, to some unknowable degree, this whole push into the Middle East is being guided by hundred-year-old geostrategic theories, which are at least as much mystical in nature as pragmatic and which lay it out as a given that whoever controls the heartland of Eurasia controls the world.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, co-founded in 1962 by Ray Cline (OSS/CIA guy and later a top advisor to George H.W. Bush), has long been the focus of this sort of thinking. Donald Rumsfeld (then a newly-elected Congressman) and Henry Kissinger both attended its first conference. Michael Ledeen was an associate from 1977-86, during his Italian and Iran-Contra periods. Dick Cheney, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski have all been associated with CSIS.

Obviously, if you believe that the heart of Eurasia is the key to world power, the US is at a considerable disadvantage compared to Russia or China, but that hasn't kept successive American administrations from trying to state a claim in the region, starting with Brzeinksi's disastrous involvement of the US in Afghanistan in 1979 and accelerating after the 'stans broke off from the USSR. The fact that Scowcroft is currently head of the American Turkish Council is also clearly due to his geostrategic interest in the region and not to any particular love for Turkish culture or even Turkish military contracts.

China's recent re-opening of the ancient Silk Road to the south is part of what the geostrategists see as an ongoing chess game. So is China's assistance to Pakistan in building a deep-water part at Gwadar -- in Pakistan's rebellious Baluchistan Province, near the Iranian border and the mouth of the Persian Gulf -- and a highway from there to Karachi. (The Wikipedia article on Gwadar has the basic details and some useful maps.)

These people are often identified as Realists, in contrast to the supposedly more ideological Neocons -- but in fact, their heads are just as full of nebulous fantasies. It's just a matter of which particular nebulous fantasy they endorse.

rimone said...

lol, damn straight.

rimone said...

above comment is supposed to be under LeeB's.

lukery said...

thnx anon.