The Iraq War Sequel

22 Nov

Here we go again! More crazy, belligerent talk about Iran, talk of another war, but a different president.

I have a number of bulleted thoughts on this latest headache-causing nightmare emanating from Washington, D.C.:

  • It’s just low-stakes chatter because of the American elections.

    Exhibit #1: The GOP foreign policy debate. Exhibit #2: Seymour Hersh’s IAEA report article. Exhibit #3: The talk of defense cuts due to sequestration.

  • Culture Clash: If for nothing else, The History of Rome podcast has impressed upon me, that Rome existed to block Persia from expanding into western Europe long before the Arabic-and-Farsi-speaking worlds became locked in bitter hatred.
  • Geopolitics: Wow, America does have a foreign policy strategy, and it’s not just to bankrupt America by warring on any state with a nuke. It’s the old ditty, associated with Nicolas Spykman, about squeezing the Eurasian heartland by holding the coastlines. Bear with me! The Obama administration is backing Israel, the Saudis, Bahrain, while it negotiates an economic pact with Pacific nations and posts Marines in Australia. NATO has just defanged Libya. India is improving relations with Afghanistan, where the U.S. is still fighting a war that threatens to undermine its relations with Pakistan, China’s ally.

Of these three, I hope #1 is the case: brief, ephemeral, just another feature of American elections, but never consummated. I do think, however, it’s impractical to deny Iran a place in the economy and grand politics of the Eurasian landmass. I think Iran and China have for now replaced the former Soviet Union as the main enemy of strategists. Unfortunately, in a contest between Iran and the Rimland, a country and civilization like Iran’s is destined to suffer most. Technological advances in transportation and communication that Mackinder argued would make Eurasian landpowers major players would enrich Iran and complete a new silk route from China to Europe. Bypassing that through the sea lanes that, keeping Afghanistan pro-Indian and pro-western, and linking China to the international economy leaves the heart of the Eurasian landmass a figurative as well as very real desert.

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