Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why the US troops are sure coming home soonest.....

Why the US troops are sure coming home soonest.....
By Tom Engelhardt

Compare the following two assessments of the lousy American future of the utterly corrupt US Government/Empire crusher.....

In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in which 61% of Americans interviewed considered "things in the nation" to be "on the wrong track," 66% did "not feel confident that life for our children's generation will be better than it has been for us." (Seven percent were "not sure" and only 27% "felt confident.") But here was the polling question you're least likely to see discussed in your local newspaper or by Washington-based pundits: "Do you think America is in a state of decline, or do you feel that this is
not the case?" Sixty-five percent of respondents chose as their answer: "in a state of decline."

Meanwhile, Afghan war commander General David Petraeus was interviewed last week by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Asked whether the American war in Afghanistan, almost a decade old, was finally on the right counter-insurgency track and could go on for another nine or 10 years, Petraeus agreed that we were just at the beginning of the process, that the "clock" was only now ticking, and that we needed "realistic expectations" about what could happen and how fast. "Progress" in Afghanistan, he commented, was often so slow that it could feel like "watching grass grow or paint dry."

Now, I'm not a betting man, but I'd head for Vegas tomorrow and put my money down against the general and on Americans generally when it comes to assessing the future. I'd put money on the fact that the United States is indeed "in a state of decline" and I'd make a wager at odds that US troops won't be in Afghanistan in nine or ten years. And I'd venture to suggest as well that the two bets would be intimately connected, and that the American people understand at a visceral level far more than Washington cares to know about our real situation in the world. And I'd put my money on one more thing: however lousy it may feel, it's not all bad news, not by a long shot.

Decline today, not tomorrow
Let's start with Afghanistan. Yes, we've been "in" or intimately involved with Afghanistan not just for almost a decade, but for a significant chunk of the last 30 years. And for much of that time we've poured our wealth into creating chaos and mayhem there in the name of "freedom," "liberation," "reconstruction," and "nation-building."

We started in the distant days of the Ronald Reagan administration with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funneling vast sums of money and advanced weaponry into the anti-Soviet jihad. At that time, we happily supported outright terror tactics, including car-bomb and even camel-bomb attacks on the Soviets in Afghan cities and bomb attacks on movie theaters as well. These acts were committed by Islamic fundamentalists of the most extreme sort, and our officials, labeling them "freedom fighters", couldn't say enough nice things about them.

That was our expensive first decade in Afghanistan. In 1989, when the Russians withdrew in defeat, we departed in triumph. You know the next round well enough: we returned in 2001, armed and eager, carrying suitcases full of cash, and ready to fight many of the same fundamentalists we (or our allies the Pakistanis) had set loose, funded, and armed in the previous two decades.

If, back in 1979, you had told a polling group of Americans that their country would soon embark on a never-ending war that would involve spending hundreds of billions of dollars, building staggering numbers of military bases, squandering startling sums (including at least $27 billion to train Afghan military and police forces whose most striking trait is desertion), losing significant numbers of American lives (and huge numbers of Afghan ones), and launching the first robot air war in history, and then asked them to pick the likely country, not one in a million would have chosen Afghani-where(?). And yet, today, our leading general ("perhaps the greatest general of his generation") doesn't blink at the mention of another nine or 10 years doing more of the same.

After 30 years, it might almost seem logical. Why not 10 more? The answer is that you have to be the Washington equivalent of blind, deaf, and dumb not to know why not, and Americans aren't any of those. They know what Washington is in denial about, because they're living American decline in the flesh, even if Washington isn't. Not yet anyway. And they know they're living it not in some distant future, but right now.

Here's a simple reality: the US is an imperial power in decline - and not just the sort of decline which is going to affect your children or grandchildren someday. We're talking about massive unemployment that's going nowhere and an economy which shows no sign of ever returning good jobs to this country on a significant scale, even if "good times" do come back sooner or later. We're talking about an aging, fraying infrastructure - with its collapsing bridges and exploding gas pipelines -that a little cosmetic surgery isn't going to help.

And whatever the underlying historical trends, George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and company accelerated this process immeasurably. You can thank their two mad wars, their all-planet-all-the-time global "war on terror", their dumping of almost unlimited taxpayer dollars into the Pentagon and war planning for the distant future, and their scheme to privatize the military and mind-meld it with a small group of crony capitalist privateers, not to speak of ramping up an already impressively over-muscled national security state into a national state of fear, while leaving the financial community to turn the country into a giant, mortgaged Ponzi scheme.

It was the equivalent of driving a car in need of a major tune-up directly off the nearest cliff - and the rest, including the economic meltdown of 2008, is, as they say, history, which we're all now experiencing in real time. Then, thank the Obama administration for not having the nerve to reverse course while it might still have mattered.

Public opinion and elite opinion
The problem in all this isn't the American people. They already know the score. The problem is Afghan war commander Petraeus. It's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. It's Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It's National Security Adviser James Jones. It's all those sober official types, military and civilian, who pass for "realists" and are now managing "America's global military presence," its vast garrisons, its wars and alarums. All of them are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Ordinary Americans aren't. They know what's going down, and to judge by polls, they have a perfectly realistic assessment of what needs to be done. Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service recently reported on the release of a major biennial survey, "Constrained Internationalism: Adapting to New Realities," by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA). Here's the heart of it, as Lobe describes it:
The survey's main message, however, was that the US public is looking increasingly toward reducing Washington's role in world affairs, especially in conflicts that do not directly concern it. While two-thirds of citizens believe Washington should take an "active part in world affairs," 49% - by far the highest percentage since the CCGA first started asking the question in the mid-1970s - agreed with the proposition that the US should "mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own."

Moreover, 91% of respondents agreed that it was "more important at this time for the [US] to fix problems at home" than to address challenges to the [US] abroad - up from 82% who responded to that question in CCGA's last survey in 2008.
That striking 49% figure is no isolated outlier. As Charles Kupchan and Peter Trubowitz point out in an article in the journal International Security, a December 2009 Pew poll got the same 49% response to the same "mind its own business" question. It was, they comment, "the highest response ever recorded, far surpassing the 32% expressing that attitude in 1972, during the height of opposition to the Vietnam War."

Along the same lines, the CCGA survey found significant majorities expressing an urge for their government to cooperate with China, but not actively work to limit the growth of its power, and not to support Israel if it were to attack Iran. Similarly, they opted for a "lighter military footprint" and a lessening in the US role as "world policeman." When it comes to the Afghan War specifically, the latest polls and reporting indicate that skepticism about it continues to rise. All of this adds up not to traditional "isolationism", but to a realistic foreign policy, one appropriate to a nation not garrisoning the planet or dreaming of global hegemony.

This may simply reflect a visceral sense of imperial decline under the pressure of two unpopular wars. Explain it as you will, it's exactly what Washington is incapable of facing. A CCGA survey of elite, inside-the-Beltway opinion would undoubtedly find much of America's leadership class still trapped inside an older global paradigm and so willing to continue pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into Afghanistan and elsewhere rather than consider altering the American posture on the planet.

Imperial denial won't stop decline
Despite much planning during and after World War II for a future role as the planet's pre-eminent power, Washington used to act as if its "responsibilities" as the "leader of the free world" had been thrust on it. That, of course, was before the Soviet Union collapsed. After 1991, it became commonplace for pundits and officials alike to refer to the US as the only "sheriff" in town, the "global policeman" or the planet's "sole superpower".

Whatever the American people might then have thought a post-Cold War "peace
dividend" would mean, elites in Washington already knew, and acted accordingly. As in any casino when you're on a roll, they doubled down their bets, investing the fruits of victory in more of the same - especially in the garrisoning and control of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region. And when the good fortune only seemed to continue and the sole enemies left in military terms proved to be a few regional "rogue states" of no great importance and small non-state groups, it went to their heads in a big way.

In the wake of the inside job of 9/11, that "twenty-first century Pearl Harbor," the new crew in Washington and the pundits and think-tankers surrounding them saw a planet ripe for the taking. Having already fallen in love with the
US military, they made the mistake of believing that military power and global power were the same thing and that the US had all it needed of both.

They were convinced that a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East was within their grasp if only they acted boldly, and they didn't doubt for a moment that they could roll back Russia - they were, after all, former Cold Warriors - and put China in its place at the same time. Their language was memorable. They spoke of "cakewalks" and a "military lite", of "shock and awe" aerial blitzes and missions accomplished. When they joked around, a typical line went: "Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran."

And they meant it. They were ready to walk the walk - or so they thought. This was the remarkably brief period when the idea of "empire" or "empire lite" was proudly embraced and friendly pundits started comparing the United States to the Roman or British empires. It's hard to believe how recently that was and how relatively silent the present crew in Washington has fallen when it comes to the glories of American power.

Now, they just hope to get by, in itself a sign of decline. That's why we've entered a period when, except for inanely repetitious, overblown references to the threat of al-Qaeda, no one in Washington cares to offer Americans an explanation - any explanation - of why we're fighting globally.

They prefer to manage the pain, while holding the line. They prefer to leak the news, for example, that in Afghanistan no policy changes are in the offing any time soon. As the Washington Post reported recently, "The White House calculus is that the strategy retains enough public and political support to weather any near-term objections. Officials do not expect real pressure for progress and a more precise definition of goals to build until next year ..."

It's not that they don't see decline at all, but that they prefer to think of it as a mild, decades-long process, the sort of thing that might lead to a diminution of American power by 2025. At the edges, however, you can feel other assessments creeping up - in, for instance, former Condoleezza Rice National Security Council deputy Robert Blackwill's recent call for the US to pull back its troops to northern Afghanistan, ceding the Pashtun south to the Taliban.

Sooner or later - and I doubt it will take as long as many imagine - you'll hear far more voices, ever closer to the heartlands of American power, rising in anxiety or even fear. Don't think nine or 10 years either. This won't be a matter of choice. Our leadership may be delusional, but there will be nothing more to double down with, and so "America's global military presence" will begin to crumble. And whether they want it or not, whether there's even an antiwar movement or not, those troops will start coming home, not to a happy nation or to an upbeat situation, but
home in any case.
It may sound terrible, and in Afghanistan and elsewhere, terrible things will indeed happen in the interim, while at home the economy will, at best, limp along, the infrastructure will continue to deteriorate, more jobs will march south, and American
finances will worsen. If we're not quite heading for what Arianna Huffington, in her provocative new book, calls Third World America, we're not heading for further fame and fortune either.

But cheer up. The news isn't all bad. Truly. We've just gotten way too used to the idea that the United States must be the planet's preeminent nation, the global hegemon, the sole superpower, numero uno. We've convinced ourselves that neither we nor the world can exist without our special management.

So here's the good news. It's actually going to feel better to be just another nation, one more country, even if a large and powerful one, on this overcrowded planet, rather than the nation. It's going to feel better to only arm ourselves to defend our actual borders, rather than constantly fighting distant wars or skirmishes and endlessly preparing for more of the same.

It's going to feel better not to be engaged in an arms race of one or playing the role of the globe's major arms dealer. It's going to feel better to focus on American problems, maybe experiment a little at home, and offer the world some real models for a difficult future, instead of talking incessantly about what a model we are while we bomb and torture and assassinate abroad with impunity.

So take some pleasure in this:
our troops are coming home and you're going to see it happen. And in the not so very distant future it won't be our job to "police" the world or be the "global sheriff." And won't that be a relief? We can form actual coalitions of equals to do things worth doing globally and never have to organize another "coalition of the billing," twisting arms and bribing others to do our military bidding.

Since by the time we get anywhere near such a world, our leaders will have run this country into the ground, it's hard to offer the traditional three cheers for such a future. But how about at least one-and-a-half prospective cheers for the possible return of perspective to our American world, for a significant lessening, even if not the decisive ending, of an American imperial role and of the massive military "footprint" that goes with it.

It's going to happen. Put your money on it.

And thank you, George W Bush (though I never thought I'd say that), you've given an old guy a shot at seeing the fruits of American decline myself. I'm looking forward.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


David Miliband, who is the elder son of Marion Kozak and the late Marxist theoretician Adolphe Ralph Miliband, a Belgian-Jewish refugee during the Second World War. Adolphe had Polish Jewish parents. There is speculation that 'the bad guys' want David Miliband to be British prime minister, and so they will dump David Cameron....

In the UK, the Observer newspaper has decided to support David Miliband in the contest to become leader of the Labor Party (David Miliband is the right choice for Labour Observer leader.)

The following are some of the comments on the Observer website:

1. When in office, as the Foreign Secretary, David Milliband spent his time lying about government complicity in torture and defending the Iraq war... You, the Observer, are utterly contemptible.

2. The last Labor government was a huge criminal conspiracy hand in glove with some of the worst parasites on the surface of the planet.

They waged aggressive war in Iraq and colluded in the systematic asset stripping and looting of this country and the destabilization of large parts of the world's economy

The sub prime mortgage scam was invented in the City of London ... and exported to the USA to trial...

The City has become the world’s central petrodollar recycling plant...

The answer to the Iraq enigma is simple yet shocking - it is in large part an oil currency war...

Bit by bit, Britain's crown jewels are being snapped up.

Every week, a bland announcement confirms the sale of another major British institution to a foreign predator...

3. After reading your endorsement of David Miliband for Labor Party Leader I am glad I made that decision not to buy your paper.

In March 2010, Gilad Atzmon wrote:

"Miliband is listed on an official Israeli Propaganda site as an Israeli Hasbara author.

"The same Miliband was until very recently investing an enormous effort into changing British Universal Jurisdiction just to make it easy for Israeli war criminals to make it to Oxford Street early on Boxing Day.

"Just a few weeks before the IDF launched its genocidal attempt against the people of Gaza, the same Miliband visited Sderot to ‘show solidarity’ with the Israeli people.

"Here is what he had to say 'It's very important that countries like mine and others show their solidarity with the people of Sderot.'

"This idiotic statement made by a senior loyal minister was obviously interpreted by the Israelis as a green light to reduce Gaza into a pile of rubble...

"Miliband is still loyal to the darkest ideology around namely Zionism.

"Britons better grasp that Israel was using no less than 15 forged British passports.

"The Israelis were obviously confident that they could get away with it. With a listed Hasbara author running the foreign office and half of the shadow ministers being members of the ‘Conservative Friends of Israel’, the Mossad had a good reason to believe that Britain’s politics is in its pockets..."

David Miliband's grandfather was Samuel Miliband, who reportedly fought with the red Army. (Ralph Miliband : Biography)

One of Samuel's brothers is thought to have joined the Russian communists' Red Army, fighting the Western powers in the Russian civil war. (dailymail.2)

The Milibands paid around £20,000 to adopt their eldest son. (dailymail.R)

Real story behind the Milibands' £20000 adoption of two sons in USA.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

American-Israeli-Saudi Shenanigans continue in The Persian Gulf unabated.....

American-Israeli-Saudi Shenanigans continue in The Persian Gulf unabated.....

Public discussion of potential attacks on Iran’s nuclear development sites is surging again. This has happened before. On several occasions, leaks about potential airstrikes have created an atmosphere of impending war. These leaks normally coincided with diplomatic initiatives and were designed to intimidate the Iranians and facilitate a settlement favorable to the United States and Israel. These initiatives have failed in the past. It is therefore reasonable to associate the current avalanche of reports with the imposition of sanctions and view it as an attempt to increase the pressure on Iran and either force a policy shift or take advantage of divisions within the regime.

My first instinct is to dismiss the war talk as simply another round of psychological warfare against Iran, this time originating with Israel. Most of the reports indicate that Israel is on the verge of attacking Iran. From a psychological-warfare standpoint, this sets up the good-cop/bad-cop routine. The Israelis play the mad dog barely restrained by the more sober Americans, who urge the Iranians through intermediaries to make concessions and head off a war. As I said, we have been here before several times, and this hasn’t worked.

The worst sin of intelligence is complacency, the belief that simply because something has happened (or has not happened) several times before it is not going to happen this time. But each episode must be considered carefully in its own light and preconceptions from previous episodes must be banished. Indeed, the previous episodes might well have been intended to lull the Iranians into complacency themselves. Paradoxically, the very existence of another round of war talk could be intended to convince the Iranians that war is distant while covert war preparations take place. An attack may be in the offing, but the public displays neither confirm nor deny that possibility.

The Evolving Iranian Assessment

Many have gone through three phases in its evaluation of the possibility of war... The first, which was in place until July 2009, held that while Iran was working toward a nuclear weapon, its progress could not be judged by its accumulation of enriched uranium. While that would give you an underground explosion, the creation of a weapon required sophisticated technologies for ruggedizing and miniaturizing the device, along with a very reliable delivery system. In our view, Iran might be nearing a testable device but it was far from a deliverable weapon. Therefore, we dismissed war talk and argued that there was no meaningful pressure for an attack on Iran.

We modified this view somewhat in July 2009, after the Iranian elections and the demonstrations. While we dismissed the significance of the demonstrations, we noted close collaboration developing between Russia and Iran. That meant there could be no effective sanctions against Iran, so stalling for time in order for sanctions to work had no value. Therefore, the possibility of a strike increased.

But then Russian support stalled as well, and we turned back to our analysis, adding to it an evaluation of potential Iranian responses to any air attack. We noted three potential counters: activating Shiite militant groups (most notably Hezbollah), creating chaos in Iraq and blocking the Strait of Hormuz, through which 45 percent of global oil exports travel. Of the three Iranian counters, the last was the real “nuclear option.” Interfering with the supply of oil from the Persian Gulf would raise oil prices stunningly and would certainly abort the tepid global economic recovery. Iran would have the option of plunging the world into a global recession or worse.

There has been debate over whether Iran would choose to do the latter or whether the U.S. Navy could rapidly clear mines. It is hard to imagine how an Iranian government could survive air attacks without countering them in some way. It is also a painful lesson of history that the confidence of any military force cannot be a guide to its performance. At the very least, there is a possibility that the Iranians could block the Strait of Hormuz, and that means the possibility of devastating global economic consequences. That is a massive risk for the United States to take, against an unknown probability of successful Iranian action. In our mind, it was not a risk that the United States could take, especially when added to the other Iranian counters. Therefore, we did not think the United States would strike.

Certainly, we did not believe that the Israelis would strike Iran alone. First, the Israelis are much less likely to succeed than the Americans would be, given the size of their force and their distance from Iran (not to mention the fact that they would have to traverse either Turkish, Iraqi or Saudi airspace). More important, Israel lacks the ability to mitigate any consequences. Any Israeli attack would have to be coordinated with the United States so that the United States could alert and deploy its counter-mine, anti-submarine and missile-suppression assets. For Israel to act without giving the United States time to mitigate the Hormuz option would put Israel in the position of triggering a global economic crisis. The political consequences of that would not be manageable by Israel. Therefore, we found an Israeli strike against Iran without U.S. involvement difficult to imagine.

The Current Evaluation

Our current view is that the accumulation of enough enriched uranium to build a weapon does not mean that the Iranians are anywhere close to having a weapon. Moreover, the risks inherent in an airstrike on its nuclear facilities outstrip the benefits (and even that assumes that the entire nuclear industry is destroyed in one fell swoop — an unsure outcome at best). It also assumes the absence of other necessary technologies. Assumptions of U.S. prowess against mines might be faulty, and so, too, could my assumption about weapon development. The calculus becomes murky, and one would expect all governments involved to be waffling.

There is, of course, a massive additional issue. Apart from the direct actions that Iran might make, there is the fact that the destruction of its nuclear capability would not solve the underlying strategic challenge that Iran poses. It has the largest military force in the Persian Gulf, absent the United States. The United States is in the process of withdrawing from Iraq, which would further diminish the ability of the United States to contain Iran. Therefore, a surgical strike on Iran’s nuclear capability combined with the continuing withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq would create a profound strategic crisis in the Persian Gulf.

The country most concerned about Iran is not Israel, but Saudi Arabia. The Saudis recall the result of the last strategic imbalance in the region, when Iraq, following its armistice with Iran, proceeded to invade Kuwait, opening the possibility that its next intention was to seize the northeastern oil fields of Saudi Arabia. In that case, the United States intervened. Given that the United States is now withdrawing from Iraq, intervention following withdrawal would be politically difficult unless the threat to the United States was clear. More important, the Iranians might not give the Saudis the present Saddam Hussein gave them by seizing Kuwait and then halting. They might continue. They certainly have the military capacity to try.

In a real sense, the Iranians would not have to execute such a military operation in order to gain the benefits. The simple imbalance of forces would compel the Saudis and others in the Persian Gulf to seek a political accommodation with the Iranians. Strategic domination of the Persian Gulf does not necessarily require military occupation — as the Americans have abundantly demonstrated over the past 40 years. It merely requires the ability to carry out those operations.

The Saudis, therefore, have been far quieter — and far more urgent — than the Israelis in asking the United States to do something about the Iranians. The Saudis certainly do not want the United States to leave Iraq. They want the Americans there as a blocking force protecting Saudi Arabia but not positioned on Saudi soil. They obviously are not happy about Iran’s nuclear efforts, but the Saudis see the conventional and nuclear threat as a single entity. The collapse of the Iran-Iraq balance of power has left the Arabian Peninsula in a precarious position.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did an interesting thing a few weeks ago. He visited Lebanon personally and in the company of the president of Syria. The Syrian/CIA/MOSSAD regime and Saudi regimes are not normally friendly, given different ideologies, Syria’s close relationship with Iran and their divergent interests in Lebanon. But there they were together, meeting with the Lebanese government and giving not very subtle warnings to Hezbollah. Saudi influence and money and the threat of Iran jeopardizing the Saudi regime by excessive adventurism seems to have created an anti-Hezbollah dynamic in Lebanon. Hezbollah is suddenly finding many of its supposed allies cooperating with some of its certain enemies. The threat of a Hezbollah response to an airstrike on Iran seems to be mitigated somewhat.

Eliminating Iranian Leverage In Hormuz

I said that there were three counters. One was Hezbollah, which is the least potent of the three from the American perspective. The other two are Iraq and Hormuz. If the Iraqis were able to form a government that boxed in pro-Iranian factions in a manner similar to how Hezbollah is being tentatively contained, then the second Iranian counter would be weakened. That would “just” leave the major issue — Hormuz.

The problem with Hormuz is that the United States cannot tolerate any risk there. The only way to control that risk is to destroy Iranian naval capability before air-strikes on nuclear targets take place. Since many of the Iranian mine layers would be small boats, this would mean an extensive air campaign and special operations forces raids against Iranian ports designed to destroy anything that could lay mines, along with any and all potential mine-storage facilities, anti-ship missile emplacements, submarines and aircraft. Put simply, any piece of infrastructure within a few miles of any port would need to be eliminated. The risk to Hormuz cannot be eliminated after the attack on nuclear sites. It must be eliminated before an attack on the nuclear sites. And the damage must be overwhelming.

There are two benefits to this strategy. First, the nuclear facilities aren’t going anywhere. It is the facilities that are producing the enriched uranium and other parts of the weapon that must be destroyed more than any uranium that has already been enriched. And the vast bulk of those facilities will remain where they are even if there is an attack on Iran’s maritime capabilities. Key personnel would undoubtedly escape, but considering that within minutes of the first American strike anywhere in Iran a mass evacuation of key scientists would be under way anyway, there is little appreciable difference between a first strike against nuclear sites and a first strike against maritime targets. (U.S. air assets are good, but even the United States cannot strike 100-plus targets simultaneously.)

Second, the counter-nuclear strategy wouldn’t deal with the more fundamental problem of Iran’s conventional military power. This opening gambit would necessarily attack Iran’s command-and-control, air-defense and offensive air capabilities as well as maritime capabilities. This would sequence with an attack on the nuclear capabilities and could be extended into a prolonged air campaign targeting Iran’s ground forces.

The United States is very good at gaining command of the air and attacking conventional military capabilities (see Yugoslavia in 1999). Its strategic air capability is massive and, unlike most of the U.S. military, underutilized. The United States also has substantial air forces deployed around Iran, along with special operations forces teams trained in penetration, evasion and targeting, and satellite surveillance. Far from the less-than-rewarding task of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, going after Iran would be the kind of war the United States excels at fighting. No conventional land invasion, no boots-on-the-ground occupation, just a very thorough bombing campaign. If regime change happens as a consequence, great, but that is not the primary goal. Defanging the Iranian state is.

It is also the only type of operation that could destroy the nuclear capabilities (and then some) while preventing an Iranian response. It would devastate Iran’s conventional military forces, eliminating the near-term threat to the Arabian Peninsula. Such an attack, properly executed, would be the worst-case scenario for Iran and, in my view, the only way an extended air campaign against nuclear facilities could be safely executed.

Just as Iran’s domination of the Persian Gulf rests on its ability to conduct military operations, not on its actually conducting the operations, the reverse is also true. It is the capacity and apparent will to conduct broadened military operations against Iran that can shape Iranian calculations and decision-making. So long as the only threat is to Iran’s nuclear facilities, its conventional forces remain intact and its counter options remain viable, Iran will not shift its strategy. Once its counter options are shut down and its conventional forces are put at risk, Iran must draw up another calculus.

In this scenario, Israel is a marginal player. The United States is the only significant actor, and it might not strike Iran simply over the nuclear issue. That’s not a major U.S. problem. But the continuing withdrawal from Iraq and Iran’s conventional forces are very much an American problem. Destroying Iran’s nuclear capability is merely an added benefit.

Given the Saudi intervention in Lebanese politics, this scenario now requires a radical change in Iraq, one in which a government would be quickly formed and Iranian influence quickly curtailed. Interestingly, we have heard recent comments by administration officials asserting that Iranian influence has, in fact, been dramatically reduced. At present, such a reduction is not obvious to us, but the first step of shifting perceptions tends to be propaganda. If such a reduction became real, then the two lesser Iranian counter moves would be blocked and the U.S. offensive option would become more viable.

Internal Tension in Tehran

At this point, we would expect to see the Iranians recalculating their position, with some of the clerical leadership using the shifting sands of Lebanon against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Indeed, there have been many indications of internal stress, not between the mythical democratic masses and the elite, but within the elite itself. This past weekend the Iranian speaker of the house attacked Ahmadinejad’s handling of special emissaries. For what purpose we don’t yet know, but the internal tension is growing.

The Iranians are not concerned about the sanctions. The destruction of their nuclear capacity would, from their point of view, be a pity. But the destruction of large amounts of their conventional forces would threaten not only their goals in the wider Islamic world but also their stability at home. That would be unacceptable and would require a shift in their general strategy.

From the Iranian point of view — and from ours — Washington’s intentions are opaque. But when we consider the Obama administration’s stated need to withdraw from Iraq, Saudi pressure on the United States not to withdraw while Iran remains a threat, Saudi moves against Hezbollah to split Syria, [ who was bought lock stock and barrel since their Assassination of Imad F. MOUGHNIEH in 08 on behalf of CIA/MOSSAD... and the elimination of the STL threat.... from their neck of the woods...into other quarters blatantly...] from Iran and Israeli pressure on the United States to deal with nuclear weapons, the pieces for a new American strategy are emerging from the mist. Certainly the Iranians appear not to be nervous.... but prepared for all eventualities... And the threat of a new strategy might not just be enough to move the Iranians off dead center.... If they don’t, logic would dictate the consideration of a broader treatment of the military problem posed by Iran....Full time negotiations will start in earnest....