What Sane Arguments on Iran Sound Like

2 Apr

Iran in Iraq: Fiasco AccomplishedElectric Politics talks with Flynt Leverett about American policy on Iran.

Nobody has been more correct about Iran than Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett. Their latest, Going To Tehran (Metropolitan Books, 2013), lays out the logic of successful U.S. engagement. Also the perils of failure. I may be slightly more neutral than the Leveretts as I think that absent a diplomatic breakthrough Iran could out-wait the U.S., thus avoiding a military confrontation, but I may be wrong. In any case, it was a great pleasure to talk with Flynt and I only wish he could become Secretary of State.

A commenter adds the only “detail” I thought was missing.

The primary reason for the contemporary demonization of Iran is that that country’s autonomy is no longer useful to ruling elements in the US, UK and Israel. From the 1970s onwards to 2003, all of the major Arab states that have tried to assert their independence vis-a-vis the US-UK-Israeli troika have fallen, starting with Nasserist Egypt, passing by Saudi Arabia under King Faisal, and finally with the destruction of Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq. Technically there is Baathist Syria which holds out, but the Syrian government is being primarily being targeted because of its alliance with Russia and Iran. With the Arabs crushed, the Turks already firmly in the Western camp, and the Pakistanis too torn by internal problems and too focused on India to do much else, there is little tolerance for an autonomous and energy-rich Iran as it is no longer needed to neutralize any other Muslim power.

The only way that Iran could “redeem” itself in the eyes of the above troika would be to become a front-line state against Russia or China. In the 1990s, the Iranians did flirt with such a role by working with the US to bring foreign mujahideen to Bosnia during the wars of Yugoslav succession.

Again after 2003 when the Iraqi Sunni rebels were at their most daring, there was another period of accommodation with Iran to jointly suppress these rebels.

However, these tactical accommodations ultimately did not amount to a lasting partnership. On a regional level, the present ruling configuration in Tehran has decided that some measure of Arab sympathy is crucial. On a broader Eurasian level, it has decided that a long-term understanding with Russia and China is also indispensable. Having failed to bring to power other elements of the Iranian state and society that might have a different perspective and with direct military confrontation deemed (thus far) too costly to undertake, the US, UK and Israeli troika is left with little else but to wage economic blockade and psychological warfare against Iran.

Once again, as I have argued before, an Western alliance with Iran against Salafi-Wahhabi terror groups is a no-starter as these groups are already infiltrated by nearly every interested intelligence agency and have minimal political potential.

As for the West dumping the Saudis for the Iranians, that is also a non-starter because the Saudi regime for ideological, institutional and generational reasons (all the candidates for the throne are about Chernenko’s age and vigor) is much less stable than its Iranian rival and therefore needs foreign support more and will make more concessions as a result. The only way such an alliance might work would be if there was a tight Sino-Pakistani-Saudi alliance formed that excluded Iranian interests. Yet it is highly improbable that the Chinese leadership would abandon its simultaneous cultivation of both the Iranians and the Gulf Arabs to pick one to the exclusion of the other. Frankly, China needs secure access to the energy resources of both.

A must-listen!

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