Monthly Archives: May 2008

Attack on Iran? Not likely, despite rhetoric coming from anti-Bushites: Why I do not respond to silly rumors

I do not usually take the time to respond to the ridiculous wave of anti-Bushite or even remotely alarmist media sentiment preferring instead to keep this blog grounded firmly in the realm of reality as I interpret it, or at least humor. Media- and blog-propagated rumors are absolutely of no geopolitical significance and are self-perpetuating, to say the least. They allow for decades-long misinterpretations of the legal-historical world of political and military events and add nothing to public discourse, often being mere regurgitations and permutations of previous rumors — and in the modern Web-based blogosphere where communication is immediate, unreliable blogs tend to cite each other to support their own stories, each more alarmist, severe and emotional than the last. This cycle of escalated emotions, misplaced brain-power and under-researched analysis can continue to the point that actual media can begin to lose its own grip on reality in the form first of editorials and then in the form of editors actually supporting the propagation of this or that ridiculous concept which is quite removed from the real world of geopolitics.

One example of such a recycled fallacy is the generally accepted mainstream idea that the U.S. invaded Iraq for oil — despite all the evidence to the contrary that the U.S. invaded Iraq to influence the mid- to long-term behaviour and disposition of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria (to mention only the primary aims). Another would be the idea that George Bush is a moron and Osama bin Laden is a lunatic — idiots and nutbags do not aquire and maintain positions of such power, nor do they develop and execute the sort of sweepingly broad and deeply complex international policies we have seen over the last decade reshape the political landscape of the entire world.

So why am I taking time to point out a common political fallacy and its propagation in the media and DIY-media of the blogosphere? Because it is important to understand just how far removed from reality a common misconception can be from reality and further how deep down the rabbit hole the reasoning of a society can descend during an election year.

Let’s take the basic misconception and then we will examine why it does not make any sense and further what the motivations for its establishment and propagation likely were.

The misconception: America is going to invade Iran. Why would the U.S. invade Iran?
Because it is scary? Because the President of Iran uses extreme anti-American and anti-Semetic — and sometimes anti-Arab, but nobody in the media mentions this as it would clash with their worldview — rhetoric to evoke nationalistic emotions in his people and maintain popularity? Because they have oil? Because they are Arab and everybody knows Bush hates Arabs? Because they are Muslim and Bush is Christian and zomg he has to invade them because he’s a religious nutjob!!!11! Because Iran is a credible threat to the U.S.? Because some dark cabal that controls everything has Armageddon set for 2009 and Barak Obama is the anti-Christ?

No. None of these reasons add up, but I have seen all of them given as reasons why America is “gearing up to invade Iran”. Otherwise intelligent people seem to often believe they have found traction in the slippery world of emphatically emotional analysis and will cling to such ridiculous concepts with striking regularity. Such to the point that I would venture to say that across the overall blogosphere I mine is likely the only one which is publishing an article today on the idea of America not invading Iran in the near future. I can blow through this list quickly to demonstrate how obscene the ideas above are:

  • Because it is scary?
    Iran is scary only in two ways: 1- they are developing nuclear weapons and have acquired and integrated a large body of ballistic missile technologies from the DPRK (North Korea) over the last several years, and 2- they have Hezbollah. “But what about the Iranian military?” you might justly ask. The Iranian military is not like the American military. It is a force used for internal security across Iran and does not have the support infrastructure necessary to project power at any distance for any period of time. It is scary, but only to those inside of Iran who do un-Iranian things. Think of the Iranian military as State Troopers with no oversight and iminent domain over everything. It is a security apparatus, not capable of invading anyone any time soon. It is certainly not scary to anyone outside of Iran. Iran’s nuclear and missile program is not anything they are likely to actually use against anybody any time soon, as a single successful shot by Iran would prompt an immediate and entirely catastrophic response by Israel — a country which actually is capable and willing to fully transform Iran (or anyone else) into a green-hued Trinitite glass plate if threatened with annihilation — and it is worth noting that a single successful shot is all Iran could ever be capable of and that is not enough to destroy Israel or anyone else. All that being said, the only real threat the Iranians pose is from Hezbollah, which is currently in the middle of a massive transition and re-evaluation, both by Iran and from within. As far as Hezbollah goes, while it is a scary group, it is a little preoccupied itself and Iran is massively overcommitted in other areas right now to be effective with such a group. Using Hezbollah now would undermine everything the Iranians have gained not lost over the last six years.
  • Because the President of Iran uses extreme anti-American and anti-Semetic — and sometimes anti-Arab, but nobody in the media mentions this as it would clash with their worldview — rhetoric to evoke nationalistic emotions in his people and maintain popularity?
    If this were grounds for invasion, then we would have invaded everybody in the Middle East a hundred years ago. It would have been Bush’s first move in office if this was so offensive to him to be of real importance. It is important to remember that President Bush was a popular isolationist prior to 9/11 and his motivation for foreign involvement is — and always has been — extremely low. Leaders using foul rhetoric to maintain control of their populations is nothing new, anyway, and more countries than not use some form of ridiculously heinous verbage against someone to instill a sense of favor for someone else. Just how extreme the rhetoric is cannot be understood by the general American population who believe that the U.S. government engages in this sort of behaviour… the common level of public hate discourse across the world is far beyond anything printable in any American media outlet and would literally constitute a non-violent hate crime by American federal standards. So invade because someone called someone else a bad name or said they were going to wipe them out? Nope. Just doesn’t add up.
  • Because they have oil?
    [20081102 This section has been corrected for explanatory purposes.]
    The view that America invaded Iraq for oil is strikingly prevalent, despite its obvious inaccuracy. The average media consumer simply does not take the time to reason out the implications of the information they are exposed to nor researches global situations further than whatever 30-second spot they observed on TV. Iran does have oil, but it does not have anything amounting to a decent energy infrastructure. This is evidenced by Iran’s ever urgent need to import refined petroleum products, as well as not having the pipelines in place to export directly to any of their consumer states. The situation is somewhat similar in Iraq, where there are plenty of oil reserves but the only two pipelines running to shipping ports are in such bad repair that shutting down oil exports and spending billions in new pipeline construction is necessary. The idea that America attacks countries based on energy reserves is ridiculous. If that were the case we would have seen an American invasion of Russia immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. One could say,”but America doesn’t invade white countries” accept that, historically, America almost exclusively invades white countries. This idea amounts to assuming that America invaded Iraq for oil before, its over, now its on to Phase II to keep invading brown people who have oil — which represents a poor understanding of geopolitics, to say the least.
  • Because they are Arab and everybody knows Bush hates Arabs?
    This is even more uninformed than the above ideas about oil. The Iranians are Persians, not Arabs, and historically hate the Arabs as much as the Arabs hate them. Arabic is also not the language used in Iran and also not a significant cultural influence, as Arabic and Persian culture share only regional, not specific, similarities which are mostly cosmetic in nature and only similar from an outside perspective.
  • Because they are Muslim and Bush is Christian and zomg he has to invade them because he’s a religious nutjob!!!11!
    This is the same line of reasoning as saying “Bush is an idiot” entirely out of turn. Instead of trying to focus on intellectual attacks, this one resorts to an anti-religious alarmism to make its message and is entirely not credible. There is much evidence to the contrary, but in the world of petty political jabbing and election campaigns this is a common detracting statement to make, insinuate or reference by pidgeon-holing Republican electoral support to the Evangelical Christian movement.
  • Because Iran is a credible threat to the U.S.?
    See the above response to “Because it is scary?”
  • Because some dark cabal that controls everything has Armageddon set for 2009 and Barak Obama is the anti-Christ?
    Oh yes, in the blogosphere everybody can have a say, even one as detached from reality as the above idea. Barak Obama may personally be massively under-informed and even — I believe — misguided in the world of foreign policy, but the anti-Christ he is not. I will not justify the above argument by wasting my time researching why he is not the anti-Christ, but let’s just suffice to say that lies farther outside the realm of practical possibility than my chances of winning the lottery tomorrow or picking up a sponsorship for this blog.

All of these arguments are actually thoughtless arguments against George W. Bush, not arguments to the actual effect that America is in any way gearing up for a major miliyary action against Iran — much less an invasion. There was a time when military action against Iran was a possibility, but that time has long passed. (For interested parties, read a few of the recent entries here that relate to Iran, the E.U. and even Russia to get a feel for why this idea is preposterous and not worthy of serious consideration.) I am not saying that America will never invade Iran or even that it wouldn’t be a fun thing to do at some point in the future, but over the span of the next few years — even next few Presidencies — I find it extremely unlikely, and over the next six or seven years a practical political impossibility unless somehow Russia, China or India invades them first… in which case we would be moving to aid the Iranians, not attack them.

I have written this article to explain and demonstrate why I do not waste my time responding to every election politic derived bit of particle nonsense foating out in the blogosphere or media. Ridiculous ideas do not get better or make more sense with general adoption. They rather tend to become increasingly detached from reality and behind-the-times as the geopolitical world moves forward while the same old stale, ridiculous theories remain in the same place for longer and longer. They also tend to grow longer and more intricately nonsensical tales as time moves on as increasingly complex mental gymnastics are required to keep stale theories alive the farther past political relevance they move.

The Kosovo Shindig: Russia Intentionally Not Invited

I’ve been absorbed in business concerns lately and have not been able to even look at much news over the last three weeks… and I completely missed an interesting development: the U.S. and Europeans are having a Kosovo-themed power party and Russia is not invited. To say this is anything other than an intentional and blatant omission is naive. This is the most direct diplomatic snubbing of the Russians in quite some time.

Why should this stick out over other recent events? Why would the U.S. and the Europeans pick Kosovo as the anti-Russian diplomatic weapon of choice? The answer is rather simple and will save you having to read another one of my excessively long and wordy posts: Russia has staked its international diplomatic and military credibility on its ability to influence the final status of Kosovo.

In diplomacy — as opposed to open war — a faction’s perceived power is its total power, end of story. If the Russians can be shown to not be capable of influencing a relatively small issue like the final status of Kosovo — Russia is against Kosovar independence… at least for today, while the Europeans and Americans are not against Kosovar independence (this is distinct from being pro-Kosovar independence, however) — then the status of Russia will be considered weak. If they are considered weak then they are, in fact, weak. Well, until people start pulling guns out, which is always the final play in any political game.

This is of practical importance in the sense that it will leave Russia with only two remaining methods of influence over the Europeans and Americans: energy export embargoes and sneaky, sneaky Soviet-style spy and military posturings.

“But what about the Iran card?”
The Iraq/Iran situation is almost over and recent American foreign policy set in motion by Bush — beginning with the Iraq invasion — juggernauted all practical opposition and trumped every anti-West move all other nations in Asia had elected to take. Great stuff for the U.S., very humiliating stuff for the Russians — and Iranians, for that matter.

“But what about the Ukraine card, isn’t Russia going full-bore over the future of Ukraine?
Yes, they most certainly are going all-out over the future of Ukraine and this is precisely why the Americans and Europeans decided to act together now to make the Russians look weak on an issue of minor geopolitical significance before any standoff with a Russia of unexplored might over an issue of colossal geopolitical importance such as the future status of Ukraine.

To sum up:

  • Why should this stick out over other recent events?
    Because it is the opening punch in the engagement phase of the American-Russian fight over Ukraine.
  • Why would the U.S. and the Europeans pick Kosovo as the anti-Russian diplomatic weapon of choice?
    Because it is a petty issue, perfect to mess around on and not risk too much. For the Americans it is a chance to see if the Europeans are willing to play the American game (or at least the not Russian game) in the opening stages of Cold War II. For the Europeans it is a chance to convince themselves they can actually counter the Russians if they stick together — which they likely won’t be doing for long, however.