This might sound strange, but the O'Bama Administration may be doing the right thing here. To accept this thesis, one has to think outside the box, so first let me describe the box.
For decades, I have been inundated with mail from Major Jewish Organizations. All of them basically say the same thing: Iran is going to get the bomb! Give us your money and we'll stop them.
Over these decades, I've received any number of self-congratulatory emails from these organizations; AIPAC most notably, proudly announcing the latest newer and tougher sanctions bills passed by Congress.
In addition to these items, the United States, in partnership with Israel developed improved anti-missile systems. US foreign aid continued to flow to an economically mature Israel much to the chagrin of anti-Semites. Moreover, because of Israel's growing economic maturity, US foreign aid became almost exclusively directed toward military hardware purchases, R&D.
Nobody ever gave a second thought to the Saudis. In the previous decades of direct confrontation, billions were spent maintaining a fleet in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean protecting the oil shipping lanes. Trillions were spent toppling Saddam Hussein and trying to establish a viable government in Iraq. All this was spent protecting the actual target of Iranian nuclear/imperial aims: Saudi Arabia.
All the time we spent this fortune defending Saudi Arabia (doing their work for them) they rewarded us with gouging us on petroleum prices through the OPEC cartel. It was so bad that in large part, this gouging greatly helped to precipitate the banking crash of 2008. Yet, for all the sanctions, enforcement, military presence, and American sacrifice, Saudi Arabia responded to the banking crisis of 2008 by leading OPEC to cut oil output. There would be no relief for struggling U.S. households. The gouging would continue.
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over; expecting a different result. The policy of sanctions, sabre-rattling, military protection of Saudi Arabia, and OPEC price-gouging had been going on for 10 years and the letters from pro-Israel groups kept coming: "Iran is getting the bomb! Give us your money and we'll stop them!"
Much began to change after 2012. The civil war in Syria saw a Sunni imperial movement gather steam. HAMAS became more aggressive and cooperative with Iran. As the oil price gouging continued, the pace of negotiations between the US and Iran picked up. In this period, with banking capital now available, domestic US oil production also picked up significantly.
As the O'Bama Administration softened its stand against Iran and Sunni imperialists, the civil war in Syria raged on. Yemen fell apart. Bahrain almost fell apart save for a brutal Saudi suppression of a Shiite revolt. Libya fell to Sunni imperialists. Lebanon remained fractured among militant cliques and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Sudan fell to anarchy. Somalia remained in a state of anarchy.
Were there any viable Arab League nations left? Suddenly, Saudi Arabia started noticing that there is one defined national entity in the region that is largely untouched by these insane civil wars. Like Saudi Arabia, Iran made clear its imperialist aims on that country. Like Saudi Arabia, Sunni imperialists made clear their aims on that one clearly defined national entity. Naturally, that country is Israel and the Saudis started getting this funny feeling in their gut that maybe they are in the same boat with Israel.
As the U.S. administration continued playing footsie with Iran, strange things started leaking out of Saudi Arabia indicating that their strategic view was quietly changing even as their domestic anti-Semitic propaganda continued unabated. Like pro-Israel groups in the US, Saudi petro-chemical lobbyists started making their frustrations known to the O'Bama Administration over their continued appeasement of Iran and Sunni imperialists. (Call them ISIS, Ikhwan, Al Qaida... whatever.)
Then, big things started happening. Egypt under the Ikhwan (i.e. President Morsi) was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. All the while, the Ikhwan was ramping up war and terror attacks not only on Israel (via Hamas and associated allies) but also the Egyptian army itself. Disaster in Egypt was right around the corner and the Saudis finally realized they would have to step up to the plate and defend their interests.
But how? In numbers, the Saudis have an impressive military, but in culture, that military has but one real mission: protect the Royal Family and suppress internal opposition. In terms of real projection of military might, the Saudis are rather untested in battle. Those few times they've been tested in conventional war, they did not impress anyone. So for starters, the Saudis needed a regional military ally they could work with; especially with the US making kissy-face with Iran. As the situation in Egypt deteriorated, the Saudis intervened.
A deal was struck: If the Egyptian army overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government led by Morsi, the Saudis would inject emergency cash into Egypt to stem the economic crisis. The coup against Morsi was bought and paid for with Saudi petro-dollars gouged out of the West via OPEC.
Things in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere continued in their catastrophic ways, but with the army now in firm control of Egypt, it immediately went to work against Sunni imperialist terrorists operating in the Sinai and around Gaza. This was not pretty and the details were never fully reported. Apparently, when the Egyptian army wipes out civilian towns in the Sinai, it's not news; nor is it a big issue for NGOs claiming to be watchdogs for human rights. (The same was true for the Saudi suppression of the Shiite uprising in Bahrain.)
As the Egyptian army scored gains in the Sinai and started (seriously) blocking smuggling tunnels on their side of the Gaza borders, the Iranians and their strange allies in HAMAS felt a need to pick up the pace. This was also true of ISIS in Syria. The July deadline was fast approaching for conclusion of nuke talks between the US and Iran and if they ended, it was back to sanctions. All the world was watching, but this world is easily distracted and the Iranians quickly played the "Israel card".
Suddenly, as the US/Iranian negotiation deadline approached, rockets came raining down on Israel. The news media forgot all about the negotiations and stampeded to report every little minute detail of the fighting; never mind that there were already 200,000 dead in Syria. Never mind there were nuclear negotiations with Iran winding up; John Kerry had a cease-fire to negotiate. Nuclear war and the Iranians could wait! And suddenly, there was something strangely different. Egypt wasn't ranting on Israel to stop retaliating. Saudi Arabia wasn't ranting on Israel to stop retaliating. Just as Kerry and the O'Bama Administration had let Egypt and Saudi Arabia twisting in the wind wrt Iran, suddenly these two countries were returning the favor and letting Kerry go it alone to stop the fighting between Hamas and Israel.
Predictably, the US/Iran negotiation deadline passed and was extended to November 2014. Predictably, HAMAS ran out of rockets and settled for a cease-fire. But most important, Saudi policy in restoring Egypt to military rule had stopped the slide toward Sunni imperialist anarchy; even if it took "the Jews" to do the dirty work of fighting the war against HAMAS in Gaza.
But things were still going bad for Saudi Arabia. Though they loathed Syrian Dictator Bahar Al-Assad's relationship with Iran, Syria was a defined Arab nation with a strong Sunni majority. To make matters worse, the exit of US forces in Iraq had left a corrupt pro-Iranian Shiite government behind. Moreover, Iraq's national identity was now precariously divided between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Syria's national existence was crumbling from civil war. Assad's forces, now largely staffed by Hezbollah were starting to stabilize the ground against the Sunni insurgents. The Sunni insurgents had to make a mark; a tangible victory that would gain publicity, funding, and new recruits.
Enter the ISIS invasion of Iraq. Largely undefended in the north, Iraq was easy pickings for ISIS. But most important, ISIS grabbed Iraq's most strategic point: Mosul Dam.
From Mosul Dam, ISIS can all but wipe out the civilian population of Iraq. I won't go into the details, but destruction of Mosul Dam would flood everything from Mosul to Baghdad and beyond. Beyond Baghdad lies Southern Iraq and Saudi Arabia. For all practical purposes, ISIS is knocking on Saudi Arabia's door. The Saudis problems were (are) far from over.
Of course, the US wasn't sending another expeditionary force to Iraq. Been there! Done that! The reports of human rights atrocities started increasing as we now had terrorists in Iraq; Americans relate to Iraq. Still, the U.S. sat on our hands and continued playing footsie with the Iranians. To add insult to injury, news reports were showing that Qater, Saudi Arabia's neighbor and OPEC partner was funding ISIS.
My thesis (as originally stated) is that US foot-dragging with Iran is by design with a purpose that may be more noble than seems on the surface. This is because once again, the Saudis were forced to stand up for themselves. I mean... why the heck should the US be paying trillions of dollars defending Saudi Arabia so they can continually rip us off through OPEC? Adding insult to injury, Saudi Arabia's OPEC partner Qatar is funding this hideous, monstrous Sunni imperialist movement from North Africa through Gaza and now Northern Iraq.
Well... the Saudis got scared; probably as scared as they have ever been since the Iran-Iraq war. When the Saudis get scared they come out fighting, but they don't shoot bullets. When the Saudis come out fighting, they pump oil.
Nobody can pump oil like Saudi Arabia. Talk about fracking and shale oil all you want! The Saudis draw a barrel of oil from the ground for $5 a barrel. With US production increasing and alternative fuels cutting into demand, the Saudis have no choice: crash the price of oil. If increased U.S. production made it easy; so much the better!
Crashing the price of oil deprives much-needed cash from any number of bad-guys out there; most notably Iran. It also punishes Qatar, Venezuela (a constant OPEC cheater) and even Russia whose bad-boy exploits have been left out of this essay. True! crashing the price of oil hurts US investments into enhanced petroleum recovery, but these investments can be preserved. If O'Bama can bail out the banks....
Crashing the price of oil starves Iran. It starves Iran of money needed to fund Hezbollah, Syria, and their nuclear program. It starves Iran of money needed to subsidize its population with staples. All the nations lined up to do business with Iran due to the lifting of sanctions will find a country that has no money. And so the Saudis have finally stepped up to defend themselves. The ultimate goal is to destabilize the Iranian regime. Already there are news reports of Iran publicly whining about Saudi oil policy.
... but pumping oil has the premise of plausible deniability. If anyone launched a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, it would be an act of war complete with retaliation and escalation. The results could be disastrous! However, crashing the price of oil attacks Iran's only strategic asset: oil. Oil is the only means Iran has to maintain the status quo.
In dragging our feet on US/Iranian negotiations, the O'Bama Administration may very well be doing the right thing; if perhaps for all the wrong reasons. It is forcing Saudi Arabia to defend itself without the US paying for it. In fact, our economy will likely enjoy some benefit from it; well-deserved I might add. The Saudis won't suffer too badly either. The increased volume maintains the level of cash flow. Saudi cash reserves are so immense, they can subsidize any cash-flow shortcoming for a long time.
All this foot-dragging on negotiations with Iran may have a far more positive purpose to it. We're forcing Saudi Arabia to defend itself and destroy Iran's only strategic asset in a way that cannot be defined as "military hostility". For whatever reason or intent, the O'Bama Administration might be doing the right thing.
Friday, January 02, 2015
- ▼ 2015 (3)
- ► 2011 (24)
- ► 2010 (24)
- ► 2009 (24)
- ► 2008 (25)