There is greater clarity today than at anytime yesterday evening on what is prompting the US’s anti-Iran tirade. The New York Times reports Sunday that US is embarking on a big military build-up in the Persian Gulf region.
In the absence of a coherent policy toward Iran, with the loss of military presence in Iraq, with Saudi Arabia inexorably descending into crisis, with the ‘pro-West’ Arab oligarchies getting afraid of the dark, with the Aran Spring poised to arrive in the Persian Gulf, with Egypt preoccupied with its own regeneration and the israelis in existential despair, US is doing what comes most natural to it, namely, arrest the march of history with gunboats and missiles.
Barack Obama is already under some pressure at home, being lampooned for his exciting doctrine of the US “leading from behind” during the Libyan intervention. On top of it, he is now coming under domestic compulsion to show he is not lacking in a regional strategy in the Middle East. The withdrawal from Iraq is traumatic for a host of segments of political opinion in the US – ranging from the neocons to the war veterans, Pentagon, the liberals, Republicans to the Israeli Lobby. A group of influential senators have asked for hearings on Obama’s decision. Sen Joe Lieberman’s presence suggests that the israeli Lobby is pushing Obama against the wall which he can disregard only at some risk in an election year.
The NYT report says that in addition to ‘repositioning’ US combat troops in Kuwait, the naval presence in the Persian Gulf will be beefed up. Conceivably, the frightened Arab oligarchies will be asked to foot the bills for this big deployment. Most interestingly, US is also proposing a new regional security architecture to be choreographed around its military presence which would “integrate air and naval patrols and missile defence.” (By the way, a bonus will be that the ABM ring around Russia is further tightening. Don’t overlook that there is also a slice of the ‘new great game’ here with Russia about to sign up with the GCC a Memorandum of Understanding on ‘strategic dialogue and cooperation’. )
Maybe Patrick Cockburn has a point: Obama could be bracing for a fight with Iran. Doubtless, the best way for him to console the Israelis will be to come down on Iran. That of course won’t solve the US’s accumulating problems in the Middle East, but may help Obama’s election campaign.
Meanwhile, Iran can be trusted not to give any outright excuse for a fight with US, as it knows things are in any case working out favorably for it (even without it doing anything), and its ‘soft power’ will only increase as the Islamist forces come to the fore wherever the ancien regimes capsize – be it Egypt or Libya – as Iran’s defence minister pointed out.
The bankruptcy in the American thinking on Iran is simply astounding. The Israeli tail is wagging the dog. After 3 decades of the ‘containment’ policy toward Iran that the US vainly pursued with dismal results, when a fine mind like Fareed Zakaria suggests more of the same, a nadir has been reached. But then, FZ has his ears glued to the ground, too, and attunes himself quickly. Does he know something we do’nt?
Posted in Politics.
– October 30, 2011