Monday, June 1, 2009

Comprehending Iran: The Nuclear Power

Does this look like the beginning of President Obama's Iran problem? Read on ...

George Bush, "Master of Disaster," and the "gift" that just keeps on giving. 96

MeanMesa finds too many of our younger acquaintances dangerously unfamiliar with the recent history and the geopolitical challenges President Obama must face with the Iranian nuclear situation. Consequently, this long post hopes to fill out that understanding with at least a few of the more important aspects of the puzzle. If you are already comfortably informed about the situation, just relax and wait for the next Short Current Essay after this one! Otherwise, spend a few minutes coming up to speed on the Iranian situation in preparation for President Obama's speech to the Islamic world this week in Cairo, Egypt.

Elections have consequences. So do revolutions. President Obama faces a troubling Iran (and a troubling Pakistan, a troubling Afghanistan, a troubling North Korea, and others, but this post is about Iran) which seems intractably intent on developing its own nuclear weapons.

As with many of the events of the Bush autocracy, public opinion about Iran’s ambitions has been tragically diverted from any sort of informed, rational understanding to the modern equivalent of an invitation to a dog fight. The well crafted misrepresentation sacrificed U.S. national security interests for the sake of political advantage with domestic opinion. This claim could be no more than another lambast at George Bush if the stakes weren’t so high.

However, as it stands, the psychopathic ambition of George Walker Bush and his opportunistic servants has now grown to such a grave severity that merely pointing to the autocrat’s failings is, probably, far too generous. What confronts President Obama and this country is now a blood feud, and some of that blood may well prove to be American blood, that is, more American blood than has already been shed because of it.

Let’s take a MeanMesa look at it from three different perspectives. First, we can review the inflammatory, Bush Presidential Lies and their outcome both on public opinion and on national security. Second, we can consider what this looks like from the point of view of Iran. And, third, we can consider what possibilities may yet exist for a successful conclusion to a shocking, pointless and reckless provocation on our part.

A Quick Overview of Iran in 2009

There is no such thing as a brief history of Iran. An historical survey would begin earlier than 7,000 B.C., roughly the date of the first written history of the place. Our glimpse into the background of this matter will, of necessity, deal exclusively with far more recent events. First, a little geography. This is a good point to disabuse ourselves of any idea that Iran is somehow similar to Iraq.

Size: 18th largest country in the world, 1,650,000 square kilometers.
Population: 70 million (Iraq has a surviving population of 22 million)
Neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia,, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Iraq.
The southern coast of Iran abuts the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The Strait of Hormuz where significant shipment of the world’s oil passes in tankers is bound on the north by Iran.

The country is now the Islamic Republic of Iran. The government came to power after the overthrow of Shah Pahlavi in 1979 when the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was taken and its staff held hostage for 444 days, ending with the election of Ronald Reagan in the United States.
Current "conspiracy history" in the United States claims that Reagan, in a political move to discredit the then former President, Jimmy Carter, asked the Iranians to keep the hostages until the day of his inauguration, which they did.

Current government officials:
- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
- First Vice President Parviz Davoodi
- Chairman of the Assembly of Experts and Expediency Discernment Council
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
- Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) Ali Larijani

Part One: American Blood -- The George W. Bush “Church of Death”

The Government of George W. Bush, deeply entrenched with private oil interests in the U.S., openly invaded Iraq where approximately one fifth of the proven reserves of the planet are located. We all know this part of the story. After six years of criminally bad military policy, those oil interests signed the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Treaty with western oil companies, making the invasion a “success.” In 2009 it has become sickeningly apparent that every alternative pretense offered to legitimatize that invasion was entirely fraudulent. U.S. combat fatalities are currently around 4,500 and combat injuries around 25,000. Iraqi deaths resulting from the invasion are estimated by Lancet (British Medical Journal) at 1 to 1.6 million.

Naturally, George Bush and his friends were interested in further military conquest of Iranian oil. Iran has proven reserves of approximately 10% of the planetary supply.

After 911, the government of Iran assisted the U.S. in the invasion of Afghanistan. However, even before George Bush began his criminal conspiracy, Iran already had a very suspicious outlook on the U.S. The country of Iran had been treated badly since World War II. In 1941, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran, forcing the ruler, Shah Pahlavi (Sr.) to abdicate in favor of his son, Shah Pahlavi (Jr.).

In 1951 Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was elected prime minister. As prime minister, Mossadegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's oil reserves. In response, Britain embargoed Iranian oil and, amidst Cold War fears, invited the United States to join in a plot to depose Mossadegh, and in 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax. The operation was successful, and Mossadegh was arrested on 19 August 1953, returning the monarchy of Shah Pahlavi (Jr.) to power.

That was the last open election in Iran. Shah Pahlavi (Jr.) and his secret police, SAVAK, began a reign of terror happily sponsored by U.S. and European oil interests. Shah Pahlavi had expensive habits for such a poor country. His “Birthday Party,” held shortly before his overthrow, was an extravaganza in the Persian desert estimated to cost $3 Bn. (U.S.). He was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini who returned to Iran from exile and founded the Islamic Republic.

During his reign, Shah Pahlavi (Jr.) managed to torture and maim every Iranian who was not his “friend.” His “friends” prospered incredibly. After the revolution, most of them moved into mansions in Beverly Hills. Ayatollah Khomeini managed to torture and maim everyone who was not his “friend” after he took over the country. He stopped all oil shipments to the U.S. in retaliation for what the CIA had done to his country and its citizens -- which, it turns out, was quite a bit.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the first Supreme Leader of the Iranian theocracy, nationalized Iranian oil (again). When he died, the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came into power.

Enter George W. Bush. Although Iran had been a U.S. ally in the invasion of Afghanistan, he quickly added Iran to his famous “Axis of Evil” in his State of the Union address. Everyone was listening, and everyone, including the Iranians, heard him.

It was a “perfect storm.” The Iranian theocrats found themselves in charge of a dangerously wrecked economy. All their oil wealth was, as usual, directed to the elite while the rest of the country had to make do. The madman in the White House had begun to make regular threats of military action against them through his Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, his Secretary of State Rice and his Vice President, Dick Cheney. The Iranians could see what the Americans had already done in neighboring Iraq, so they took all of this very seriously. The Iranians knew that when George Bush (Jr.) looked at their country he was dreaming of another very profitable Hydrocarbon Treaty in the near future. Their near future.

There were complications. The Iranians had just finished an awful, eight year war with Sadam Hussein. This war was extra stinky. Iranians are mostly Shi’a Muslims, and Iraq also had a majority of Shi’a citizens. Sadam had been violently brutal in order to get his Iraqi Shi’a to fight their Iranian Shi'a neighbors. Iraq, under Sadam, was run by Baathists who were from the minority Sunni religious population in Iraq, even though they ran the country -- especially the Iraqi Shi’a -- with an iron fist.

Often compared to the military profile of W.W.I, the Iranians lost approximately 700,000 combat dead and the Iraqi’s lost about 500,000 combat dead. Both sides invested roughly one half trillion dollars (US) in the conflict. The combat losses are interesting when translated into respective proportions of the populations of each country and then calculated with respect to the US population.

Having a well equipped, modern military has its advantages.

The Iraqi military under Sadam was generally regarded as one of the most powerful in the world thanks to its far superior equipment and weapons. The United States had also helped Sadam by selling him poison gas bombs which he dropped on both the Iranians and some of his own citizens, the Iraqi Kurds. These sales were, initially, the basis of the famous “weapons of mass destruction.” Bush’s additional claims about Sadam’s nuclear arms development were all lies. In any event, the Iranians faced very bad equipment disadvantages -- tanks, artillery and air craft -- thanks to the US sponsored UN sanctions which embargoed most military resupply after the embassy incident and the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Worse, after the revolution huge numbers of Iran’s brightest and most successful had fled the country. This exodus was partly due to the rather unpleasant attitude of the new government toward everyone who had done well under the Shah, and partly due to the nearly collapsing Iranian economy where opportunities had been vaporized by the cost of the war with Iraq and abysmally poor economic planning by the theocracy.

But then, George Bush, enthralled by the possibility of owning a fifth of the world’s oil, turned on Sadam, making him one of the three players in the “Axis of Evil.” The unelected psychopath in charge of the world’s greatest military force had already decided that the Afghans who resisted the United States were both evil and criminals (no P.O.W.’s for this nut case -- Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib) and he effortlessly marched ahead to condemn Iranians with the same “broad brush.”

The Talaban running Afghanistan had refused a pipeline offer from Chevron apparently hours before the 911 attack. And Sadam’s secret police had attempted to assassinate George Bush’s father while he was celebrating the victory of his “liberation of Kuwait” with the Sheik, the owner of that country. That assassination attempt on his father had spurred an extremely unhealthy adolescent “family pride” crisis between Bush (Jr.) and Sadam which ultimately sealed the fate of that Baathist dictator. Naturally, George Bush was searching for a similar avenue in his military threat gambit with the Iranians, and they knew the gravity of the threat by watching what had happened to their neighbor.

Part Two: The Terrified Iranian Theocracy Responds

After every revolution there is always a lot of “cleaning up” to be done. The Iranian theocratic government immediately took strong, violent domestic steps to secure the country which was still well populated by Iranians who had done well under the Shah. The war with Iran had cut deeply into the middle aged male population, leaving the new government with the problem of an unusually large percentage of young men. Revolutions are seldom beneficial to local economies, and after this one there were far too few jobs for such a large number of young people, making the exercise of government control even more difficult. The average age of the population of Iran today is around 25 years, as mentioned before, thanks largely to the war with Iraq.

Further, the half a trillion dollars ($500,000,000,000) spent to conduct the war had flattened even the oil rich revenues of Iran. Now, the young Islamic theocracy found itself with roughly the same military obstacles which had prevailed when Sadam’s Iraq had first invaded Iran in 1980 at the start of the Iran Iraq War. Although there were plenty of young men in Iran to enlist in an army, there were terrible shortages of just about every kind of military equipment and supplies.

To make matters even more threatening, the US autocrat and other voices in his government were now consistently intimating that “there was simply no way a military strike on Iran could be avoided.” Here in the United States, the “talk on the streets” was firmly anchored on the question, “Will we invade Iran?” The reactionary media, along with the neo-con talk show hosts pumped that theme daily for a number of years during the Bush autocracy. In addition to that constant harangue, every effort was being made to blame Iraq for 911.

Although Iran had nothing to do with 911, and, in fact, had assisted the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan, the fire brands had managed to escalate the public suspicion of all Muslims to a fever pitch. The Iranians saw the obvious. As for US public opinion, facts meant very little. The cheaply fabricated Iraq-911 connection had already sold like “whores in a lumber camp” amid all the uninformed US voters long enough to initiate the conquest of Iraq’s oil. They knew that a similar fabrication, this time lubricated mainly by resurrected memories of the embassy take over and gleefully spiced with claims of the murderous involvement of Iran in the IED’s killing American troops in the Iraq invasion force, could place Iran in the same predicament that Sadam had so unsuccessfully faced.

The theocracy dragged out their ancient Persian chess board and sized up what possible strengths remained in their severely handicapped geopolitical position. Iranian sponsorship of Shi’a troublemakers such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon was quickly stepped up, generating the quite predictable psychotic response from George Bush, Jr. and fomenting even more inflammatory statements and policy in the US. For an example of how this worked, Iran began to pump primitive rockets to Lebanon through Syria to be used on Israeli targets. This finally resulted in the bloody war between Israel and the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

“Somebody” assisted the Syrians with what was claimed to be a nuclear bomb factory, and the Israelis flew a unilateral air attack to destroy the facility. The Iranian sponsored Hamas in the Gaza strip found a ready supply of their own primitive rockets arriving daily through the tunnels they had built across the Egyptian border in the south. At first, Israel provided a surrogate target for Iranian hostilities which would have been made more directly against the United States if they had simply had more military stuff which could be used against the US invasion army now hopelessly stuck in the Iraq war next door.

Israel’s relationship with Iran occupies the road weary axiom of being “driven into the sea” based primarily on the very modern hybrid model of Israeli Arab relations which was carefully groomed by each aspirant colonial power since the 1940’s. However, Israel bombed Sadam’s reactor before the first Iraq War and Syria’s reactor within the last few months. The Jewish State, even though globally famous Jewish physicists have assisted every present day nuclear power with their engineering and design, is an unannounced nuclear member with very credible bomb inventories and delivery systems.

Unlike various other “bomb” holders, Israel also boasts a very effective and well equipped conventional force, the IDF. Military experts agree that Israel could dependably destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities with an air attack. And, just as Iran has publicly stated that it intended to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth,” Israel has publicly stated that a nuclear armed Iran would never be tolerated.

In the previous Israeli attack on Sadam’s reactor, the war planes flew over Saudi Arabia, which although armed, was unable to stop them. However, an attack on Iran would either take that Saudi route or a shorter one over Iraq. Although Iraq could not stop that over flight, its American invasion force might accomplish that. Any Israeli attack would be a sudden, decisive affair executed without warning. The situation is further complicated by Israel’s nuclear capability, presenting to the rest of the world the unpleasant choice of either a preemptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear future soon or a war of retaliation between the two states after the Iranians accomplish more progress on both their bombs and their short to intermediate range delivery systems later.

Naturally, George Bush’s “dance with disaster” not only spurred the Iranians to take whatever defensive or retaliatory measures possible, but placed two very large American armies within very credible range of those Iranian weapons.

However, for the Iranian theocracy, the “elephant in the living room” was the ugly combination of Bush’s domestic lie campaign inciting hatred of Iran in the American public and that same, now 150,000 strong, American invasion army a few miles away in Iraq. Quite aside from the Israeli difficulty, that mix could promise only a very unhappy outcome if the odds could not be changed somehow in favor of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Enter uranium enrichment. With technical help from Pakistan’s nuclear arms genius, Munir Ahmad Khan (trained as a nuclear expert in the United States), and well staffed with plenty of well educated technical scientists (Iran is one of those forty countries with an educational system producing superior outcomes to the United States), the Islamic Republic “opened the flood gates” for a maximum effort at developing a nuclear bomb.

Only with this concrete advantage accomplished, they thought, could they withstand the daily increasing threats of the Bush autocracy. Such an American attack and invasion could have been called the “Rush Limbaugh War.” A successful nuclear counter strike against the incoming troops would have placed Iran, although still the unavoidable loser in the conflict, on a pedestal among all the other Middle Eastern states who also hated America thanks to the work of our own autocrat.

The Iranian hope was that if this actually ever happened, “All hell would break loose.” It was not a bad strategic gamble given their unfortunate situation, although foreign policy disasters seemed never to bother the Bush while he was obsessed with taking someone else’s oil.

Part Three: America Returns to Stable Mental Health

Although the entire world literally breathed a sigh of relief after our election in November of 2008, the Iranians breathed slightly less than most others. Without the menace of the Bush psycopathy, they were stranded in an awkward spot of their militarization schemes where both their hoped for nuclear threat was more or less “stuck in the swamp” and their Holy War sworn enemy had suddenly disappeared from view on his tragic journey to the “dust bin of history,” most likely some place in Dallas.

Instead, they now found themselves facing an incredibly competent and popular Obama. Even the Limbaugh - Hannity crowd seemed to be slowly losing some of their righteous medieval steam in the face of a new maturity among the electorate. Here, we must frankly note a very interesting paradox. On the one hand, a half-witted U.S. invasion of Iran fired on by radio talk show hosts had probably been avoided. On the other hand, the sanctions initiated against them because of the nuclear effort, and, frankly, the cost of the effort itself, had only served to further aggravate their failing economy and their growing youth unemployment problems. Even their oil revenues were jumping up and down, out of control in a environment of OPEC fear of their threat and a global economic collapse which had gutted oil use -- and sales -- in every developed country.

What had once been a very useful threat from “Great Satan America,” was now becoming a really rotten investment. The Iranians, only recently inebriated with nuclear bombs and $160 a barrel crude, were now paralyzed and exhausted by a worn out jihad screaming forward in a frenzied dance -- now absent its traditional mean spirited enemy -- around what turns out to be a trailer park inching along on $50 a barrel oil. Worse, the new American President had very visibly and openly invited them to “talk.”

Frankly, Iran may actually develop a nuclear bomb with a few years. They may detonate it “North Korean Style” somewhere in their copious desert territory. Given even more time, they might finally perfect their intermediate range delivery missiles to a somewhat dependable state.

But then what?

They had invested heavily to promote themselves to the half wits in the Bush autocracy as totally suicidal Islamic extremists, completely willing to suffer any retaliation to attack Israel or the US invasion army in Iraq and to their Middle Eastern neighbors as the only state with enough resources and political moxy to stand up to George Bush's petroleum colonization plans. This re-imaging of theirs was a predictable response to the “long, sharp teeth” odor of crazy Bush war mongering, but, is there a coherent retreat scheme available to them now? One that might preserve some of their highly expensive efforts to get this far with their regionally selective portrayal of themselves?

As Americans, we are left with the matter of Iran nestled along with far too many others in the nest of calamities which are the legacy of the Bush autocracy. To make much headway in our effort to “get through” this one will require an astonishing advance in our national maturity.

And, there will be a price. It won’t be the “death of the White Christian World at the hands of Islamic fascists” price which was so fervently promoted by the Bush, but even in its most reasonable and rational form, what now confronts us will not become one of our past favorites, a “Winner takes all.” Pastor, coach, talk show host and reactionary will have to relinquish the national driver’s seat to make way for a serious, thoughtful, competent, adult rescue effort.

The previous “directors” such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bremmer will have to be prohibited from making any additional, explosive, antagonistic public remarks from their prison cells.

So what does “Iran: the Nuclear Power” actually look like from our seat here in the United States? Right off the bat we can assume that the more credible Iranian nuclear arms become, the less interested in ridiculously inflammatory voices such as that of the current Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the nation’s policy elite will become. With the exception of North Korea, that reassuring drift has been the model for recently nuclearized states such as Pakistan and India, for example.

More bombs, more maturity. More security, less ideology.

Further, although attaining nuclear arms is rather expensive, once they have been created, maintaining them is a real bargain. (See: H-Bomb Love Sonnets, Part One and Part Two, this blog) Once the cost savings are realized when compared to the price of sustaining a million man army, that military economy seems to spread to other issues, primarily, to a realization that very many social projects can be accomplished with the money being saved by those “nukes” parked in low maintenance silos.

The “more maturity, less ideology” concept will probably also quiet down the Iranian diplomatic rantings to a semi-cogent level as time passes. Even the “state suicide” proclamation will subside. The Iranians may well prove to be difficult ascendant leaders in the Middle East, but they will definitely move away from the “We all have bombs strapped to our chests and we’ll kill you because we don’t care what happens to us” image in favor of a more participatory international role, especially one which can result in increased employment and improved trade balances. Some “quiet time” will almost certainly see Iran having a growing interest in domestic manufacturing (other than H-bombs and missiles), better living conditions, a more stable and respected currency and even better profits from their belabored oil industry, now suffering technologically from the country’s isolation. Yes, there are already actually Iranians who, although they fundamentally support the theocracy’s investment in nuclear arms, can also begin to see that more H-bombs mean fewer sewers, schools and agriculture.

Completely crazy, suicidal Islamic Fascists? Not really. Although Bush Jr. and the United States seemed intent on instigating a nuclear attack on Israel and the US army in Iraq, the more any nuclear power has to lose, the more reluctant they are to launch such a first strike.

The most likely scenario is that this new nuclear power will quietly transform into a “nuclear poker game” role where there may continue to be clashes in the conventional weapons range, but the satisfying comfort and confidence of having those H-bombs will, in time, exert a moderating influence. There will certainly never be another Iran - Iraq war. There will almost as certainly never be some screwy, reckless American military invasion to effect an oil takeover.

All the parties are learning important lessons in “Exactly what’s worth what.” Including us.

Still, the New York Times, May 24, 2009, offered an editorial under the title “Have We Already Lost Iran?” “Already lost Iran?” Some of us are learning at different rates.

Obama is no one’s dummy. He is intent on assisting the electorate learn as quickly as possible the reality of possibilities with respect to our ideas about Iran, patiently sifting out the lies and liars who, for a while, were running around like cock roaches. He is also constantly offering the Iranians every incentive to return to a more objective stance, now that we have. They will require the time to pursue exactly what Obama is working on here. The conflict has gone beyond the rumbles of outright military aggression thanks to the introduction of possibly better alternatives for both parties.

Now, all that’s left is for us to grow up enough to accept the choices we actually have and rationally ponder our next decisions.

As usual, Wiki has extensive material available on all aspects of the Iranian situation.

and, anyone interested in the New York Times story can find it here:

For more photos of GWB drunk at the Olympics,

Google has endless articles and editorials about the subject. Be Informed!

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