“The assymetry in power?”

Persepolis2 Continuing the discussion of the sterility of US policy approaches to the difficulties with Iran, we have received the following from BM.  In the article linked below, we have evidence of the recognition in Washington diplomatic circles of the need to do something creative concerning Iran.  pl


"I am not aware of any concrete incentives communicated by US to Iran. The closest was statements by the Secretary of State to the effect that US would not object, in practice, to the development of high technological capabilities in Iran through transfers, investments etc. And I think that was a trial balloon that sank. There was a 2005 package of incentives presented by EU which seems to have been calculated to insult the Iranian Government and the Iranian people; it treated Iran as a defeated country of inferior people who had to defer to their betters’ good judgment. It was long on demands on Iran and short on what EU would be prepared to deliver within any specified time (nothing, it turned out). And the 2006 offer was not much better; in fact, the French thought that was good enough for Iran, yet another insult. My sense of this is that US was not interested in paying the price for the normalization with Iran. Clinton was not interested, expecting Iranian surrender. Bush followed suit by threatening Iran to get a cost-free solution. This approach, in my opinion, was also employed in case of North Korea. US, under Clinton, dragged her feet in meeting the Agreed Framework commitments to North Korea, all the time calculating that North Korea will collapse. When it didn’t, Bush had to threaten them too. And when that did not work, we were back with the Agreed Framework plus North Korea with a few nuclear bombs and also outside of NPT. I think both US and EU, for some reason, really expected (expect?) cost-free negotiations and diplomacy. I am not sure how to account for that; perhaps the great asymmetry in power? "  Babak Makkenijad


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59 Responses to “The assymetry in power?”

  1. dws says:

    Hi. I remember the media at the time of the “offers” referred to here describing incentives: Iran would get EU help developing a light water reactor so long as there were safeguards, better access to trade and banking.
    Two questions for the experts here:
    (1) Has no one (not just the U.S.) offered any carrots of substance?
    (2) Can there be a meaningful carrot without the U.S.?

  2. Babak Makkinejad says:

    EU has no capacity to pursue a foreign policy that is at variance to that of US. [UK is the only state that has understood this and thus sticks closely to US positions.] The other EU states will go through the motions as though they are a US alternative but they are not. All they can claim is that they are US Lite.
    Without US there can be any useful incentives for Iran.

  3. Binh says:

    U.S. foreign policy in the M.E. since the 1979 Iranian revolution overthrew America’s strongman, the Shah, has consistently aimed at keeping Iran in check, first through dual containment (arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, tilting more towards Iraq at the end as it was losing) in the 80s and 90s to I guess what could be called aggressive containment (invading Iraq and Afghanistan to militarily encircle Iran, stationing almost half the navy off of Iran’s coast).
    This probably won’t change anytime soon for the simple reason that the U.S. does not like governments in the oil-rich M.E. to be too politically independent of U.S. wishes/control. The region is the most strategically important in the world because it is home to the world’s energy supply. I believe that is the underlying reason why the U.S. is not willing to consider a “Grand Bargain” with Iran (recognizing Iran as a legit power in exchange for decreasing aid to Hezbollah for example), even though that would do much to stabilize the region. It would explain why the Cheney administration has backtracked on N. Korea, begun negotiating again, etc but has not done so in a nearly identical situation with Iran.
    U.S. policymakers see Iran as the main impediment to unchecked American (and Israeli) dominance of the area. Not only that, but a “Grand Bargain” with Iran would encourage Iran to pursue its own interests more aggressively in foreign policy, creating the possibility of developing much closer ties with China or Russia and creating the possibility of a truly multipolar world.

  4. Fred says:

    You ask: Can there be a meaningful carrot without the U.S.?
    I’m sure the Russians and Chinese will be able to come up with something!

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    1-The US did not arm Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. Their equipment came from the Warsaw Pact, China and France. As I recall, US MATERIEL assistance consisted of a few low-boy trucks and Hughes 500 helicopters.
    2-Iraq was never in any serious danger of being defeated by Iran. The Reaganites and their Saudi friends thought so but it was not true. pl

  6. chimneyswift says:

    This is a very good point, and I have also seen (in the media at large, even) what seems like the beginning of a realization of a need for something more creative with regards to Iran.
    I have a question and a thought.
    Question: Not to put too fine a point on it, but when was the last time the US did anything creative diplomatically with regards to any situation anywhere? I am not an insider, nor even seriously well informed, so please understand that this is a serious question, not just snark. Can anyone come up with a simple example of a diplomatic maneuver by the US in the last, say 25 years that was significantly “outside the box”? Hopefully this example will be of a successful one, BTW.
    My thought is that the forign policy establishment in the US has grown far too used to approaching things with the intent of dictating terms to others. People who assume themselves to be stronger, and believe themselves able to enforce their will on others do not tend to think laterally or dimensionally, which seem to me to be the best approaches to successful diplomacy. There are probably several reasons for this, not least of which being the rise of a culture of force within the American Elite stemming from business practices around and since the industrial revolution. This mindset would have matriculated in to the arena of foriegn policy during WWII and the Cold War.
    I’m thinking about the acceptance of the use of brute force intertwined with a sort of Manichean world view (binary good v. evil overall, ironically coupled with moral relativism in evaluating our own actions). Given this approach, once the Soviet Union collapsed there would be no real need to employ any kind of creativity.
    Mind you, I’m just thinking out loud, here. But it strikes me that we now face a much more complicated world than we did twenty or twenty-five years ago. How I’m seeing this is that while we are obviously still the strongest of world powers, we now face a global political environment that requires us to try to influence others rather than simply dictating terms.
    This would be outside the experience of Cold Warriors (who took for granted hard and fast alliances and magnitude of scale differences in global power) as well as those who came up in the Nineties (when life seemed uni-polar and the World Bank and WTO were almost absolute power proxies for the US). Now we face a post-Euro economy and a global political environment where many of our former allies have no boogeyman they depend on us for protection from. In a present day where domestic political establishments have been becoming ever more shortsighted (if not hobbled by ideological dogmatism), who is likely to be able to offer any creativity?

  7. Leigh says:

    No carrots for Iran? Sounds a lot like Israel’s method of negotiating with the Palestinians: you do this and this and this and this and after you’ve done it, we’ll tell you what we might do in exchange…if anything.

  8. Montag says:

    There’s a difference between North Korea and Iran–with North Korea the U.S. was like a dog chasing a car until finally they realized that there was nothing they could DO with it once they caught it. It’s an economic basket case rich in starving people. South Korea has watched with alarm the crippling expense to West Germany of unifying with East Germany and is wary of becoming a sucker in this regard. So the only realistic option is containment.

  9. Jim Schmidt says:

    1-The US did not arm Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. Their equipment came from the Warsaw Pact, China and France.
    Also, as I recall, Iraq’s better artillery came from South Africa, who manufactured a howitzer called the GHN-45 under license from Gerald Bull’s company.
    As you recall also, Gerald Bull was contracted by Iraq to manufacture a staged propulsion gun tube capable of launching a sub-orbital projectile thousands of miles. Warned by Israel to “walk away” from the project, he was later murdered in Brussels. What is happening now in the ME has a very long storyline.
    But, overall, it has been very good for business.

  10. Binh says:

    When I said “arm Iraq” I was referring to the chemical and biological weapons (WMD) that the U.S. supplied to Hussein’s regime care of special envoy Donald Rumsfeld. Did that not happen?

  11. JohnH says:

    “I think both US and EU, for some reason, really expected (expect?) cost-free negotiations and diplomacy.”
    The alternative explanation is that the US and EU don’t negotiate because total surrender simply cannot be negotiated. No Iranian regime with any popular support will ever hand over its energy assets. The US and EU will take never accept Iranian control over those assets. So what’s to negotiate?
    It’s really time for the US and EU to address their energy consumption problem and slow the rate of global warming at the same time.

  12. dws says:

    I don’t claim to be “even seriously well informed” either, at least compared to this group. But here’s a thought.
    I’m not so sure the U.S. has faced many challenges recently that required “outside the box” thinking. Competent “inside the box” could have served.
    Some examples (hopefully):
    * I didn’t enjoy Bush Sr. continuing to engage China after Tiananmen, but it was the smart, inside the box, thing to do.
    * Bush I’s policy and preparation for war when Iraq invaded Kuwait seemed masterful, even if events before and after saw terrible flaws.
    * Although Clinton’s bombing campaign in Serbia got lucky, policy in that region has been okay since with okay results. Much worse could have happened.
    The lesson I get from history is that good policy often takes time for its best results to come (e.g. containment and the Cold War over 40 years, hopefully Kosovo in the future). Do we have time in Iran?

  13. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    A perspective offered by K. Afrasiabi:
    ” Whereas the United States’ new diplomatic approach toward Iran has already yielded tangible results, in light of Iran’s enhanced cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the US-Iran dialogue on Iraq’s security, the opponents of this approach in the US and Israel are nonetheless upping the ante against Iran, pushing for a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic, which is bound to have disastrous consequences for regional stability and global peace….”
    I heard that that some potentially positive contacts were undertaken at one point between Washington and Tehran but that the “Axis of Evil” speech, January 2002, (remember White House speechwriter and Canadian neocon David Frum?) halted such contacts at that time.

  14. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Dean Rusk, during a lecture, said, in essence, that one rule of diplomacy was always try to give an adversary an honorable exit. (He played a bigger role in the Cuban Missile Crisis than many may realize. ) His advice certainly passes the common sense test. Also, if conflict is inevitable, then this approach helps to establish the US as Sun Tzu’s sovereign imbued with the moral law, e.g. odds increase we win. Apparently, some of our vaunted diplomats have decided on the opposite approach. In the vernacular, it’s called smack talk and smack talk gets you nowhere. I find it disconcerting that Welch and others use Terrell Owens as their guide on diplomatic relations

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We (the USA) never participated in the Iraqi chemical or biological weapons programs. I would have known.
    Iraq had purchased some strains of micro-organisms before the war from US commercial and European sources, but this was not arranged by the government and the organisms were available for purchase by research labs across the world. all you had to be was a university or a phrmaceutical company. Their BW program never amounted to more than reesearch.
    As for the gas agents, they developed them all by themselves. Not that hard to do.
    I doubt if it was illegal under international law then. pl

  16. eaken says:

    You are correct in that the US did not directly provide weapons (for the most part) to Iraq, however it did:
    1) allow Egypt and Saudi Arabia to re-export bombs, aircraft, and other equipment/weapons
    2) Gave Iraq the loans it needed to acquire the weapons, etc.
    3) US and UK blocked a security council resolution condemning the us of chemical weapons by Iraq.
    4) Riegle Report. Google It.

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I was a participant in these events. I don’t give a damn what Reigle thought.
    1-95% of all the equipment the Iraqis had was of Warsaw Pact (direct), Chinese (direct) or French origin.
    2-We did not have the power to “allow” or “forbid” the Egyptians or Saudis to do anything. I suppose that the Egyptians might have re-exported Warsaw Pact equipment to the Iraqis. Why the Iraqis would have wanted that is beyond my ken. They got all they wanted “new.” The Saudis and Kuwaitis held special ports open for the importation of military materiel destined for Iraq. The Iraqis did not have military equipment of US manufacture or design unless it had come in before 1967. I was all over the country at that time and would have seen it.
    2- The thing about the loans is nonsense. Iraqi oil money, Saudi oil money and Kuwaiti oil money more than paid for anything they wanted to buy.
    3- So what. pl

  18. r@d@r says:

    count me among the ignorant googling laymen, but i’m wondering what your take on the following document is [sorry for the illegibility] – has this individual perjured himself?
    thank you for your insight.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Teicher has exagerated the extent of his role is this as in most things. He was a vociferous opponent of any assistance to Iraq of any kind. He seemed to have an agenda.
    Casey wanted a lot of things. That does not mean that he got them. It was of no importance if he thought the Iraqis needed cluster bombs. So far as I know they did not get them.
    The “bear’s spares” program was used to support many countries that had been armed by the Soviets. The % of their materiel that the Iraqis would have gotten from this was quite small compared to what they got in direct shipments from the countries of manufacture in Europe and Asia.
    I will say again that no Middle Eastern country re-exported US designed or manufactured military equipment to the Iraqis. The only dual use equipment that the Iraqispurchased in the US were Hughes 500 helicopters equipped for agricultural spraying. It has bee claimed that these were used for spraying chemical or bological weapons. They were not. The Iraqis delivered chemical weapons using artillery shells or aerial bombs.
    The Gulf states did not need encouragement to provide Iraq with funds with which to defend them from the Iranians. Your point about the US guaranteeing loans for the Iraqis is true.
    I do not see how this differs much from what I said earlier?

  20. r@d@r says:

    I do not see how this differs much from what I said earlier?
    not by much apparently – i’m just trying to understand the actualities of the scenario in the face of conflicting narratives. as you say, yours is compelling, being firsthand.

  21. Cloned Poster says:

    Col. Lang, you seem to making the groundwork for the story that the US failure in Iraq is because of Iran.

  22. geos says:

    The US did not arm Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. Their equipment came from the Warsaw Pact, China and France. As I recall, US MATERIEL assistance consisted of a few low-boy trucks and Hughes 500 helicopters.
    2-Iraq was never in any serious danger of being defeated by Iran. The Reaganites and their Saudi friends thought so but it was not true. pl

    But didn’t the U.S. share satellite intelligence when we thought the Iraqi Army was in danger of collapse under the “human wave” attacks? That would have been more valuable than materiel assistance (and the chemical munitions were also a tactical response to the human wave attacks like WWI). Why are you so sure the Iraqi Army was going to hold?
    pre-1979 U.S. policy in the Middle East was built around the Shah as primary U.S. proxy in the gulf. I think we were quite open about a wish that the Iran-Iraq War go on indefinitely. I have no idea what we thought the end-game would be. I can’t decide whether the first Bush adminsitration wanted the first US-Iraq War or not. “Conspiracy Theory(tm)” aside it doesn’t seem to me that the U.S. planned very well for the eventual end of the Iran-Iraq war: the first gulf war should never have happened. We needed a stable Iraq to counter-balance Iran.
    As I have opined in a previous thread, I don’t think the U.S. will willingly allow any independent power to have real influence on Saudi Arabia (much less threaten them.) A failed state in Iraq virtually assures that Iran will have influence in the gulf…
    ‘Containment’ was always a global strategy, we cannot contain Iran in it’s own neighborhood without keeping the Navy permanently in the gulf.
    I think that is a recipe for military conflict, regardless of who controls the presidency in the U.S.
    I think the idea of engaging Iran is built on real multi-polar global diplomacy in the Middle East. I think that would be a real revolution in U.S. policy, a radical change that goes against what I think is bipartisan consensus. Am I wrong?
    I just don’t see any constituency in the U.S. for engagement with Iran.

  23. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You will have to explain that to me. I thought I was making a case for caution in dealing with Iran. pl

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The issue of whether whatever we gave them was justified by the real situation on the ground raises the ugly truth that decision makers are often ignorant fools who run around in flocks like sheep and get their wisdom from each other and from trashy journalism rather than from people who may know better.
    Who am I to make a judgment about the Iran-Iraq War? Interesting. Check my CV and WIKI entry. I was the man responsible for making that judgment for the Defense Department.
    The Reagan Administration had no idea what the end of the war might be, but many were inclined to see it go on indefinitely.
    There was no planning that accompanied the end of the Iran-Iraq War nor the First Gulf War. There was just a vague and unjustified hope that the Iraqi Army would remove him. The same guys got another chance this time.
    You have far too much faith in the idea of historical purposefulness. Most s–t just happens.
    Well (in re US-Iran “engagement”) there’s you and me. Seriously, constituencies are created. They do not appear by magic. pl

  25. frank durkee says:

    Despite all the rhetoric and talk the issue seems to be “What do we {US et.al.] do about Iran and especially their drive toward a combined atomic weapons and delivery modes? It can be argued that they are closer to the ‘street’ aspirations of the ME, even though shite, than most of the so called ‘moderates’. Granted that they have, beginning with the overthrow of the shah, been a contray force to our interests in the area, at least as percieved at the national level in this country. Further they clearly pose a risk to our so called allies in the area and as such they pose a serious threat to ‘stability’ in the area. We seem somehow to be caught in a mind warp that is unable to deal effectively with these reralities and seeks to act as though we had final say on how things were to be. We have a say, but a limited one. we have not been able to be deeply clear about our botttom line ‘state interest’ and then to act on it. We may be the most powerful nation, and that by a large margin. None the less people operating somewhat under the radar as with AQ, Hezeballa, the insurgency, th e Iranian revolution have been able both to harm and defy us. we seem unable to find a way to begin the process of finding how to link our interests with at least some of theirs in ways that both can live with. we seem to be losing the struggle for peoples hopes and becomming the bug- abears of their fears. Part of this is simply not understanding our own journey and it’s dificulties wel enough, part of it is knowing that our interests do not jibe with the peoples interests in some major areas, and part of it is our thralldom to the past in the area. We may be falling behind the curve more than we need too and if so we will pay a significant price for it. I do not know the area as the col and others do. But based on years of working with the poorer and oppressed menbers of our own society I can recognize the ease with which we risk loosing the battle of hope, ideals, and simple human recognition. I suspect that very few of those who are involved in the decision making have this perspective and can therefor read the reaction in its human terms. Community organization like state building is not just ablut emotion, it’s about very basic and prgmatic issues , including emotion. all of it needs to be respected and acted on. Mostly to be effective you have to learn to listen and respect what you hear. You are inboth asking people to choose, not aquiese. We’ve too mudh forgotton or ignored that, both about ourselves and those we now seek to control.

  26. J says:

    if we as a nation can ever throw off the monkey [a.k.a. israel] that is clinging on our back dictating our nation’s foreign policy in the region, we just might be able to come up with that everybody can live with.

  27. Mad Dogs says:

    “You have far too much faith in the idea of historical purposefulness. Most s–t just happens.”
    This be TRUTH!
    Junya and Deadeye, under the spell of incantations from Kristol, Podhoretz, et al, would have it be different, but just as we’ve seen with the Iraq war, tis likely that as they continue to bellicosely “stir the pot” regarding Iran, they’ll be much surprised again by the resulting foul, inedible stew.

  28. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “The Reagan Administration had no idea what the end of the war might be, but many were inclined to see it go on indefinitely.”
    To many of us, continuing a course of action without any idea where it may lead seems outright stupid.
    But after a few years I’m sure the Iran-Iraq war’s influence in the region had become pretty clear to our analysts. So I can see a certain logic in maintaining the status quo – it had become the devil we know.
    Then these knuckleheads had to come along who thought managing a power vacuum would be a cakewalk.

  29. geos says:

    Col. Lang says:
    Who am I to make a judgment about the Iran-Iraq War? Interesting. Check my CV and WIKI entry. I was the man responsible for making that judgment for the Defense Department.
    I don’t doubt your authority on the subject; you sounded like you spoke from authority. I was interested to know why it was your judgement that Iran could not prevail…
    I think one of the great ironies of our current political times is the way that the radical party in U.S. politics is universally described as “conservative.” Sometimes recklessness is a form of policy, especially for revolutionaries…

  30. taters says:

    From Wiki –
    According to retired Colonel Walter Lang, senior defense intelligence officer for the United States Defense Intelligence Agency at the time, “the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern” to Reagan and his aides, because they “were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose.”

  31. chimneyswift says:

    I absolutely think so. That’s part of the great loss of this whole thing.
    Obviously engagement with Iran of almost any sort would have been more productive than this.
    If we simply offered to work together we would have some basis in the future to respond to subsequent events from.
    Also, from the beginning it made sense to work alongside Iran against the Taliban in Afghanistan, so it’s not like there’s no good ideas.
    My point is that a world power that wasn’t thinking in terms of “we boss you around or else” would have jumped at that opportunity. You get tons of operational intelligence (with likely greater capacity to mask your/our own communications) and rid the envirionment of a long term strategic thorn in the side.
    Another big problem is related to time-scale perception, patience, and frank willingness to think past one’s own death.
    From what I’ve been able to learn, most of the wierd power cults in this country are death cults of one sort or another, and sometimes I think it limits the ability of the members to plan. Ironic really.
    So that I’m not misunderstood, that’s the political problem. I don’t think this is true of the current Military Commanders. I am proud of the American Military’s record in developing organizational structures and cultres that foster non-power mad perspectives.
    But getting back to topic, the Taliban are still there, the Iranians are still there. They’ve already been handed all the intel on our ways they could possibly want because of incredibly poor mission selsction, but we can still learn about them and work towards common goals.
    This would create a long term situation where we are closer to Iran, and Saudi Arabia would have to adjust. We are still the biggest player on the block, we just need to accept the use of long term lerverage rather than relying on abject deferral or collusion in extremist plutocratic oppression, which is the other alternative, and in a very complicated fashion feeds the market we as Ameicans shop in every day.
    So of course it’s not simple, we can and should cooperate with Iran when considering the geo-strategic situation, but it might complicate “our” economic position at home as well as abroad.

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Quite. They thought Iraq was in grave danger long after the worst had passed. The were encouraged by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis in thinking that. pl

  33. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It appeared to all the expert people in my agency that Iran lacked the strength to make a decisive end of Iraq. pl

  34. eaken says:

    It seems we’ll have to respectfully disagree on the extent of US involvement in the Iran-Iraq War but what I am ultimately getting at is how is what we did any different than Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah?

  35. taters says:

    Thank you for your response. The Iran-Iraq war bears some striking similarities to WW1 and in the Gulf War it seemed that Iraq waged a WW2 type war.
    As for the US arming Iraq, you capsulized everything I’ve ever read on subject.
    I thought it was commom knowledge that the biological stuff came from private concerns in the US.
    I thought this was interesting, regarding the Tomcat…
    Report: F-14 parts still sold
    02:16 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 8, 2007
    Staff and Wire Services
    The Pentagon sold more than a thousand aircraft parts that could be used on F-14 fighter jets — a plane flown only by Iran — after announcing it had halted sales of such surplus, government investigators say.
    A report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the Defense Department had improved security in its surplus program to prevent improper sales of sensitive items.
    But investigators found that roughly 1,400 parts that could be used on F-14 “Tomcat” fighter jets were sold to the public in February. That came after the Pentagon announced it had suspended sales of all parts that could be used on the Tomcat while it reviewed security concerns.
    Iran, trying to maintain its F-14s, is aggressively seeking components from the retired U.S. Tomcat fleet.

  36. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Reemphasizing Col. Lang’s point on “state interests,” it seems to me that both the US and Iran indeed have common interests in some key areas that should be a basis for diplomatic negotiations.
    I would point out that US relations with Persia were first considered by Washington back in the 1830s and 1840s. We had some missionaries out there (NOT seeking to convert Muslims but rather working with local Christians/Armenians, etc.) who developed considerable geographic and area expertise.
    The Persians put forward the idea of a treaty relationship with the US in 1850. This was communicated to our mission at Constantinople by Persian representatives. On October 9, 1851 a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation was signed but complications arose delaying such a treaty until 1856.
    Useful historical background on British-Iranian relations is provided in Edward Ingram, Britain’s Persian Connection 1798-1829 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992).
    As far as our current foreign policy: “garbage in-garbage out” referencing Condi and the Neocons.

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Perhaps not very much.
    On the subject of US involvement in the Iran-Iraq War I don’t understand what your evidentiary basis is for disagreeing. My basis is simple. I am a primary source on this matter. pl

  38. Eaken says:

    Would you say we didn’t have the leverage to stop US weapons from going to Iran either?
    Would you say that the US didn’t have the policy of protecting Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi Arabian ships during the war while having no such policy for protecting Iranian ships?
    Perhaps I don’t possess a smoking gun, but I certainly don’t differentiate between explicit and implicit support if the intent is the same. Perhaps that is where we disagree.
    Regardless, thanks for making this discussion possible.

  39. Montag says:

    Let’s not forget that the U.S. Navy fought an undeclared war against Iran as part of the Iraq-Iran War. Or do you think that U.S. warships make a habit of blowing civilian airliners out of the sky? Of course the worst U.S. casualities of this conflict were the 37 fatalities aboard the U.S.S. Stark in 1987 from an Iraqi missile–a reminder that when you leap into a snakepit you’d best watch out for snakes.

  40. David W says:

    Chimneyswift, further answers to your earlier question: The ‘October Suprise’ and Iran-Contra were definitely ‘out of the box’ thinking. From Wikipedia:

    October 1980, Iranian Embassy Hostages. In October, 1980, preceding elections in United States on November 4, 1980, Ronald Reagan’s election campaign manager William Casey, Laurence Silberman and George Herbert Walker Bush went to Paris, France and held a series of meetings with Iranian officials from October 15 to October 20, 1980 to discuss the fate of the 52 remaining hostages taken from the US embassy building in Tehran, Iran on November 4, 1979. Iranian officials agreed not to release the hostages prior to election day on November 4, 1980 in exchange for a shipment of F-4 aircraft tires and spare parts supplied to Iran from Israel between October 21 and October 23, 1980 in contravention of the Unites States’ boycott and the Trading with the Enemy Act. The 52 hostages were finally released after 444 days in captivity on the same day, at the same hour, that Ronald Reagan was sworn into office on January 20, 1981. The United States Congress eventually held hearings in 1991 led by Lee Hamilton on the matter, which were underreported in the media and widely considered to be a whitewash, and in which “no credible evidence” was found “linking Reagan’s team to the delay of the hostages’ release”. [1]

    The Iran-Contra Affair (also Irangate), was a political scandal occurring in 1987 as a result of earlier events during the Reagan administration in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran, an avowed enemy, and illegally used the profits to continue funding rebels, the Contras, in Nicaragua.[1] Large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan administration officials.[2][3] The affair is still shrouded in secrecy. After the arms sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred.[4] A week later, however, on November 13, Reagan returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran. He denied that they were part of an exchange for hostages.[5]

    The affair links quite disparate matters: on one hand were the arms sales to Iran, and on the other, funding of Contra militants in Nicaragua. Direct funding of the Nicaraguan rebels had been made illegal through the Boland Amendment. The affair emerged when a Lebanese newspaper reported that the U.S. sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages by Hezbollah. E-mails sent by Oliver North to John Poindexter support this.[6] However, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. claims that the reason was to establish links with elements of the military in Iran. It is also noteworthy that the Contras did not receive all of their finances from arms sales, but also through drug trafficking of which the US was found to be aware.[7]

    Both appear to be ‘creative,’ if only in the Machiavellian sense. I’d be interested in more discussion on how these events have shaped the US relationship with Iran, given that contemporary discussions of our recent history in the region tend to ignore these events.

  41. W. Patrick Lang says:

    There is no doubt that the US sided with the Arabs in that war. This was caused by a fear that the new Islamic Republic of Iran might defeat Iraq and eventually occupy the south side of the Gulf. Whether or not this fear was really justified is another matter as I have discussed previously. The Saudis, Kuwaitis and other gulfies all insisted that the US do all it could for the Iraqis.
    The issue in this discussion has not been (for me) if the US sided with Iraq, but rather what specifically did we do to act on that and was it really necessary. pl

  42. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In this context the Iran-Contra Affair looks even more bizarre. pl

  43. Walrus says:

    I think that the Bush and NeoCons have actually proved my Monopolar Manichean World View theory.
    The world is definitely made up only from evil.
    The good occurs only because the Devil screws things up so often.
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist;))

  44. Mo says:

    For all the accusations of US military support for Iraq, the greatest irony of that war is that it was Iran who depended on US manufactured weapons. At the time, the US (though hateful of Iran) did not I believe see the Iranians as the military threat that the Russians and the Gulf states saw which is why so many Warsaw pact weapons went to Iraq.
    The policy of US neutrality on the issue probably changed a few years into the war once it was noticed that the more advanced, better maintained weaponry of Iraq was achieving nothing on the battlefield. Even then though, the US support was more diplomatic than material. Restoration of diplomatic ties, isolating Iran and blocking UN resolutions against Iraqi use of chemical weapons.
    The general support grew during the war, with absolute disregard for Saddams internal politics, as the abilities of the Iranians became more and more apparent. There was never any need for the US to play its hand and provide military support as the rest of the world was happy to oblige; This also allowed the US to avoid claims of hypocrisy as it was blocking sales of chemicals to Iraq.
    The big question though is, why only 2 years after the end of the war, did the US decide that it was Iraq and not Iran that needed attacking?

  45. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    David W,
    I served on the US Senate Staff during the 1980s and was involved in investigations of the Iran-Contra issue.
    What I can say is that three aspects of the affair should be kept in mind when considering the Bush Administration’s policy:
    1.The Neocon network played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair. We see the same players today such as Elliot Abrams who runs our Middle East policy from his NSC slot. Remember that George Shultz brought Abrams into the State Department and Bush, Sr. pardoned him. George Shultz brought the Neocon network into the Bush W campaign org (“Vulcans”) and administration with the approval of Bush, Sr. Cheney was co-chair, with Shultz, of the W campaign.
    2.The Israelis were the primary force behind the scheme and the Neocon network a primary interface to them. There was deep penetration of the White House staff/NSC not to mention DOD. Mike Ledeen had close ties to the Vice President’s office (VP Bush, Sr. that is).
    3. There is an Appendix, entered into the record by some Republicans to the official Senate report, in which an attempt is made to make a legal argument that the Executive can do what it wants despite Congress. It is a very thin and false piece of legal “reasoning” as anyone reading it today will see. This annex concept of Executive power is the underlying legal concept for the present “Unitary Executive Theory” propounded by VP Cheney and his legal advisors like Addington (who worked the Annex I just mentioned).
    During the 1980s, I used to see my father’s old friend Congressman Bob McClory (R-Ill), 1908-1988, who as a key member of the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Nixon for abuse of power. I would think Bob would vote the same way today with respect to Bush.

  46. W. Patrick Lang says:

    US Support for the Iraqis wa always quite ambiguous. There were numrous factions within the USG representing real or imagined interests. Pro-Iranians, zionists, anti-Soviets (neocons) who were against the alignment with the Gulf Arabs and Iraq. As soon as the perceived threat from Iran “disappeared” in the UN cease fire, these factions all demanded distancing from Iraq. It went downhill from there. pl

  47. Will says:

    Did the Lebanese Shiites from Jebel Amel (South Lebanon) convert 16th century Iran to the Shia Faith?
    Jabal Amel
    “Jabal Amel’s scholars are credited with converting the Safavids in Persia to mainstream Jaafari Shi’a Islam during the sixteenth century. By the invitation of Abbas the Great, Sheikh Ameli and his family moved to Isfahan to establish religious schools and train Persian scholars in Twelver Shiism. They became spectacularly successful and left a lasting influence in Shiism stretching to the present day. Over the centuries, Jabal Amel has produced a long line of heroes and scholars, who travelled wide and far to preach Jaafari Islamic doctrines, such as Shahid al-Awwal, Shahid al-Thani, Sheikh Hurr al-Amili, Sheikh Muhsin al-Amin, the renowned scientist Hassan Kamel Al-Sabbah, the late Sheikh Ragheb Harb, the late Sayyed ‘Abbas al-Musawi, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mughniyeh, Imam Musa al-Sadr, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shamseddine, Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan, Nabih Berri, and respected Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
    Furthermore, Shi’a scholars from Jabal Amel have always had a strong intellectual presence in the religious universities of Iraq and many other places in the Islamic world, where many seek the guidance of Jabal Amel’s Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah. ”

  48. Homer says:

    Clifford Kiracofe: 1.The Neocon network played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair.
    Yes, and the al-Dawa party, which is exactly the same as the al-Dawa party of PM al-Maliki, also played a central role too in the Iran-Contra affair.
    Rem.: In 1983, members from al-Dawa suicide bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait.
    Eventually, these members were imprisoned and became known as the Kuwait 17.
    Then, in order to secure the release of the Kuwait 17, Hizbollah, an ally of Al-Dawa, nabbed 30 hostages.
    Secretary of State George Shultz said Tuesday that there “quite likely” was a link between the U.S. Embassy bombing in Kuwait and attacks on American facilities in Lebanon. He warned of possible retaliation.
    The sources said the investigators matched the prints on the fingers with those on file with Kuwaiti authorities and tentatively identified the assailant as Raed Mukbil, an Iraqi automobile mechanic who lived in Kuwait and was a member of Hezb Al Dawa, a fundamentalist Iraqi Shiite Moslem group based in Iran.
    Beirut Bombers Seen Front for Iranian-Supported Shiite Faction, The Washington Post, January 4, 1984
    The terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. Marine compound and the French military headquarters here may be a front for an exiled Iraqi Shiite opposition party based in Iran, in the view of a number of Arab and western diplomatic sources.
    Authorities in Kuwait say their questioning of suspects in the recent bombing there of the U.S. and French embassies indicates a clear link between Islamic Jihad, a shadowy group that says it carried out the Beirut attacks, and Al Dawa Islamiyah, the main source of resistance to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
    Al Dawa (The Call) has been outlawed in Iraq, where it wants to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state to replace the secular Baath Socialist government of Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Moslem.
    It draws its strength from the large Shiite population in southern Iraq. Thousands of its most militant members were expelled to Iran in 1980 before the outbreak of the Iranian-Iraqi war and joined Al Dawa there. But it also has a large following in Lebanon among Iraqi exiles and sympathetic Lebanese Shiites.
    While Al Dawa operates out of Tehran, it is not clear whether its activities abroad are under direct Iranian control or merely have Iran’s tacit acceptance.
    The reference was to 17 Shiite extremists held in Kuwait in connection with 1983 bombings of the American and French embassies that killed six and injured 80. Most of the 17 belonged to Dawa, an Iranian-backed fundamentalist group. From the time the first American hostage was seized in Beirut in 1984, the Hezbollah in Lebanon had repeatedly insisted on the Shiites’ release as a condition for freeing Americans. Some of the 17 are reportedly relatives of some of the kidnapers in Beirut.

  49. eaken says:

    It seems that one million plus lives later and decades after the Iran-Iraq war, some of the same fears that brought Iraq to attack Iran still exist: fear of Shiite uprising, fear of Iran’s dominance of the south, boundary disputes. Now we are in the driver’s seat and my fear is that implicit support in the eighties might evolve into explicit actions now on the backs of AIPAC and those others toeing the market.
    ….and if there is something we indeed agree on it is the bizarreness level of Iran-Contra.

  50. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Iraqi fears caused Saddam to invade Iran? I am not so sure that it wasn’t just a desire to dstroy the mullah’s government and a desire for the oil of Khuzistan.
    Fear of an uprising in the South? they did not act like that and the army and guard were full of Shia and a lot in high positions. pl

  51. Got A Watch says:

    I think the US adventure in Iraq may come to an end far sooner than most here think. The reason: simple economics.
    Foreign wars are expensive, and the ability of the USA to maintain the overseas Empire is becoming increasingly in doubt.
    If you have been following economic/business news this week, the world has Just Said No to buying any more worthless American paper debt instruments. Thus, the American Party! On! ™ party on the financial markets is over, and only the hangover remains.
    The Empire is vastly over-extended in financial terms. The Chinese even threatened this week to use the “Nuclear Dollar Option”, to which the Bushies responded with a verbal raised middle finger.
    As with their handling of relations with Russia, this was just another major policy blunder in their endless list of the same.
    We are very close to the time when a very major reduction in US government spending, including military budgets, will have to be made, regardless of which power is in power in Washington. And the first, obvious place to make such cuts is in Iraq, and the public would support such.
    The ability of the neo-cons to continue to fund their idiocies has just hit the debt wall, though I am sure very few of them have realized this yet.
    Historically, when such crisis occurs, wars are often the result. So, paradoxically, the odds of an attack on Iran have just risen substantially. Which would only make the situation worse, the American economy absolutely cannot handle $100+/bbl oil at a time when the fundamentals are so very weak.
    We are truly entering very perilous times.

  52. David W says:

    Thank you for the links, Dr. Kiracofe–‘Contragate’ was my initial political awakening when I got to college in the mid 80s, and slowly learned the reality behind the so-called ‘Communist threat’ in Central America. Later on, as the tentacles spread, the scene became so disgusting that I never actually read the Walsh report until now.
    Revisiting Iran-Contra, we see the same forces at play, ie. dangerously misguided ‘superpatriots’ breaking the law and playing Sorcerer’s Apprentice via the canard of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ To wit:
    According to the National Security Archive, in an August 23, 1986 e-mail to John Poindexter, Oliver North described a meeting with a representative of Panamanian President Manuel Noriega: “You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega in Panama and I have developed a fairly good relationship”, North writes before explaining Noriega’s proposal. If U.S. officials can “help clean up his image” and lift the ban on arms sales to the Panamanian Defense Force, Noriega will “‘take care of’ the Sandinista leadership for us.”

    North tells Poindexter that Noriega can assist with sabotage against the Sandinistas, and suggests paying Noriega a million dollars cash; from “Project Democracy” funds raised from the sale of U.S. arms to Iran – for the Panamanian leader’s help in destroying Nicaraguan economic installations.

    In November 1986 as the sale of weapons was made public, North was fired by President Reagan, and in July 1987 he was summoned to testify before televised hearings of a joint Congressional committee formed to investigate Iran-Contra. The image of North taking the oath became iconic, and similar photographs made the cover of Time and Newsweek, and helped define him in the eyes of the public. During the hearings, North admitted that he had lied to Congress, for which he was later charged among other things. He defended his actions by stating that he believed in the goal of aiding the Contras, whom he saw as freedom fighters, and said that he viewed the Iran-Contra scheme as a “neat idea.”

    Now, of course, ‘Ollie’ is a weird kind of celebrity, a close associate and eminence grise to Sean Hannity and the rest of the wingnut network, despite the failure of the contras to deliver a neo-Somozan state. Meanwhile, Nicaragua has returned to some sense of normalcy, after being devastated by the military actions of the contras, and clandestine sabotage by CIA operatives,Daniel Ortega is now President, and the world has not ended, only moved on to the threat du jour.
    Sorry for the side trip, Col. Lang, however, I believe it to be highly relevant to the topic at hand…

  53. Montag says:

    Remember when North & Co. got $10 million from the Sultan of Brunei, if memory serves, and they gave him the WRONG Swiss Bank Account number to deposit it in? So some lucky schmuck whose account it actually was got an unexpected windfall and they could never get the money back. Good times.

  54. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. Here is an update on the Iran-Pak-India pipeline project. India would like Russian/Gazprom participation. The US is attempting to block the entire project as part of the VP’s energy geopolitics game. (consult Zbig Brzezinski’s, “The Grand Chessboard” for basic concept).
    “MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) – India’s ambassador to Russia said Monday that the project to build a natural gas pipeline to link Iran, Pakistan and India could secure extra safety guarantees if Russian energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] became involved.
    Gazprom has been in talks with the three countries for over a year on joining the project, designed to pump fuel from energy-rich Iran and which is worth an estimated $7.5 billion….”
    2. Here is a quote illustrating Neocon interest in targeting Iraq back in the mid-1970s. It’s from Bill Keller’s NYT piece on Wolfie, the “he” being Wolfie:
    “”There was a fairly big NATO office,” he recalls, ”and a modest size East Asian one and then a cats-and-dogs office. I said, ‘Where’s the Persian Gulf office?’ ‘Oh, we don’t plan forces for the Persian Gulf.’ This was 1977. And one of the unspoken reasons, I think, was Vietnam. But one of the spoken reasons was, the shah takes care of the Persian Gulf for us. And I said, ‘Well, that’s a little shortsighted.”’
    So he assembled a small group, including Dennis Ross, and they wrote a secret assessment of threats. Much of the report was about possible Soviet moves into the region, but planted in the midst of this is a bright red flag about Iraq. Examining Iraq’s outsize military and unresolved territorial claims, the report talked about possible attacks on Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, which would give Iraq control of the West’s oil lifeline. The U.S. was seen as woefully unprepared to respond. The report recommended beefing up forces to provide ”a credible and visible balance to Iraq’s local power.”
    So from 1977 to 2003, then to 2007 and the blood and treasure meter is running.

  55. Binh says:

    if I am not mistaken didn’t the U.S. government have to approve the sale of those agents to Iraq’s government? (Not that that constitues “arming” in any meaningful sense.)
    Also, here are excerpts from a recent Stratfor report on the U.S.-Iran meetings of late:
    08.07.2007 By George Friedman, Stratfor [Excerpts]
    U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker met Aug. 6 with Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi and Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie. Separately, a committee of Iranian, Iraqi and U.S. officials held its first meeting on Iraqi security, following up on an agreement reached at a July ambassadorial-level meeting.
    A U.S. Embassy spokesman described the talks as “frank and serious,” saying they “focused, as agreed, on security problems in Iraq.” Generally, “frank and serious” means nasty, though they probably did get down to the heart of the matter.
    The participants agreed to hold a second meeting, which means this one didn’t blow up.
    Longtime Stratfor readers will recall that we have been tracing these Iranian-American talks from the back-channel negotiations to the high-level publicly announced talks, and now to this working group on security. A multilateral regional meeting on Iraq’s future was held March 10 in Baghdad, followed by a regional meeting May 4 in Egypt. Then there were ambassadorial-level meetings in Baghdad on May 28 and July 24. Now, not quite two weeks later, the three sides have met again.
    That the discussions were frank and serious shouldn’t surprise anyone. That they continue in spite of obvious deep tensions between the parties is, in our view, extremely significant. The prior ambassadorial talk lasted about seven hours. The Aug. 6 working group session lasted about four hours.
    These are not simply courtesy calls. The parties are spending a great deal of time talking about something.
    This is not some sort of public relations stunt either.
    First, neither Washington nor Tehran would bother to help the other’s public image. Second, neither side’s public image is much helped by these talks anyway.
    This is the “Great Satan” talking to one-half of what is left of the “Axis of Evil.”
    If ever there were two countries that have reason not to let the world know they are meeting, it is these two. Yet, they are meeting, and they have made the fact public.
    The U.S. media have not ignored these meetings, but they have not treated them as what they actually are — an extraordinary diplomatic and strategic evolution in Iraq.
    It is understandable that neither Washington nor Tehran would want to draw undue attention to the talks.
    The fact that the Americans and the Iranians are downplaying the talks, and that newspapers are not printing banner headlines about them, does not mean the meetings are not vitally important.
    It simply means that the conventional wisdom, guided by the lack of official exuberance, doesn’t know what to make of these talks.
    There are three major powers with intense interest in the future of Iraq: the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
    The United States, having toppled Saddam Hussein, has completely mismanaged the war. Nevertheless, a unilateral withdrawal would create an unacceptable situation in which Iran, possibly competing with Turkey in the North, would become the dominant military power in the region and would be in a position to impose itself at least on southern Iraq — and potentially all of it.
    Certainly there would be resistance, but Iran has a large military (even if it is poorly equipped), giving it a decided advantage in controlling a country such as Iraq.
    In addition, Iran is not nearly as casualty-averse as the United States. Iran fought a war with Iraq in the 1980s that cost it about a million casualties. The longtime Iranian fear has been that the United States will somehow create a pro-American regime in Baghdad, rearm the Iraqis and thus pose for Iran round two of what was its national nightmare.
    It is no accident that the day before these meetings, U.S. sources speculated about the possible return of the Iraqi air force to the Iraqis. Washington was playing on Tehran’s worst nightmare.
    Saudi Arabia’s worst nightmare would be watching Iran become the dominant power in Iraq or southern Iraq. It cannot defend itself against Iran, nor does it want to be defended by U.S. troops on Saudi soil.
    The Saudis want Iraq as a buffer zone between Iran and their oil fields. They opposed the original invasion, fearing just this outcome, but now that the invasion has taken place, they don’t want Iran as the ultimate victor.
    The Saudis, therefore, are playing a complex game, both supporting Sunni co-religionists and criticizing the American presence as an occupation — yet urgently wanting U.S. troops to remain.
    The United States wants to withdraw, though it doesn’t see a way out because an outright unilateral withdrawal would set the stage for Iranian domination. At the same time, the United States must have an endgame — something the next U.S. president will have to deal with.
    The Iranians no longer believe the United States is capable of creating a stable, anti-Iranian, pro-American government in Baghdad. Instead, they are terrified the United States will spoil their plans to consolidate influence within Iraq.
    So, while they are doing everything they can to destabilize the regime, they are negotiating with Washington.
    If this sounds complicated, it is. The United States is fighting Sunnis and Shia, making peace with some Sunnis and encouraging some Shia to split off — all the time waging an offensive against most everyone. The Iranians support many, but not all, of the Shiite groups in Iraq. In fact, many of the Iraqi Shia have grown quite wary of the Iranians. And for their part, the Saudis are condemning the Americans while hoping they stay — and supporting Sunnis who might or might not be fighting the Americans.
    The situation not only is totally out of hand, but the chance that anyone will come out of it with what they really want is slim.
    The United States probably will not get a pro-American government and the Iranians probably will not get to impose their will on all or part of Iraq. The Saudis, meanwhile, are feeling themselves being sucked into the Sunni quagmire.
    This situation is one of the factors driving the talks.
    By no means out of any friendliness, a mutual need is emerging.
    No one is in control of the situation.
    No one is likely to get control of the situation in any long-term serious way.
    It is in the interests of the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia that the Iraq situation stabilize, simply because they cannot predict the outcome — and the worst-case scenario for each is too frightening to contemplate.
    None of the three powers can bring the situation under control.
    Even by working together, the three will be unable to completely stabilize Iraq and end the violence. But by working together they can increase security to the point that none of their nightmare scenarios comes true.
    In return, the United States will have to do without a pro-American government in Baghdad and the Iranians will have to forgo having an Iraqi satellite.
    Hence, we see a four-hour meeting of Iranian and U.S. security experts on stabilizing the situation in Iraq.
    Given the little good will between the two countries, defining roles and missions in a stabilization program will require frank and serious talks indeed. Ultimately, however, there is sufficient convergence of interests that holding these talks makes sense.
    The missions are clear.
    The Iranian task will be to suppress the Shiite militias that are unwilling to abide by an agreement — or any that oppose Iranian domination.
    The Saudi mission will be to underwrite the cost of Sunni acceptance of a political compromise, as well as a Sunni war against the jihadists. Saudi intelligence in this area is pretty good and, while the Saudis do have compunctions, they will gladly give the intelligence to the Americans to work out the problem.
    The U.S. role will be to impose a government in Baghdad that meets Iran’s basic requirements, and to use its forces to grind down the major insurgent and militia groups. This will be a cooperative effort — meaning whacking Saudi and Iranian friends will be off the table.
    No one power can resolve the security crisis in Iraq — as four years of U.S. efforts there clearly demonstrate.
    But if the United States and Iran, plus Saudi Arabia, work together — with no one providing cover for or supplies to targeted groups — the situation can be brought under what passes for reasonable control in Iraq.
    More important for the three powers, the United States could draw down its troops to minimal levels much more quickly than is currently being discussed, the Iranians would have a neutral, nonaggressive Iraq on their western border and the Saudis would have a buffer zone from the Iranians.
    The buffer zone is the key, because what happens in the buffer zone stays in the buffer zone.
    The talks in Baghdad are about determining whether there is a way for the United States and Iran to achieve their new mutual goal.
    The question is whether their fear of the worst-case scenario outweighs their distrust of each other. Then there is the matter of agreeing on the details — determining the nature of the government in Baghdad, which groups to protect and which to target, how to deal with intelligence sharing and so on.
    These talks can fail in any number of ways.
    More and more, however, the United States and Iran are unable to tolerate their failure.
    The tremendous complexity of the situation has precluded either side from achieving a successful outcome. They now have to craft the minimal level of failure they can mutually accept.
    These talks not only are enormously important but they also are, in some ways, more important than the daily reports on combat and terrorism.

  56. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “The United States exported $500 million of dual use exports to Iraq that were approved by the Commerce department. Among them were advanced computers, some of which were used in Iraq’s nuclear program. The non-profit American Type Culture Collection and the Centers for Disease Control sold or sent biological samples to Iraq under Saddam Hussein up until 1989, which Iraq claimed it needed for medical research. These materials included anthrax, West Nile virus and botulism, as well as Brucella melitensis, which damages major organs, and clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene. Some of these materials were used for Iraq’s biological weapons research program, while others were used for vaccine development.[12]” Wiki

  57. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Per Iran, Ahmadinejad’s peregrinations, and the current Central Asian situation, useful overview by K. Afrasiabi:
    “After all, Iran can also play transit route for the Arab states of Persian Gulf seeking trade and investment in the landlocked Central Asian states. That aside, geostrategically speaking, Iran eases pressure on itself by getting more breathing space in this newly independent region still grappling with the problems of state-making.”
    Does the new US policy on the Rev Guards give propaganda cover for air strikes against their installations/economic-industrial assets in addition to the “nuclear weapons” program and key infrastructure such as the energy sector?
    Could Iran get off a few anti-ship missiles anyways and sink a few US ships en passant for the sake of national honor if nothing else?

  58. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    To follow up on Iran and SCO and related geopolitical matters:
    1.”The leaders of Russia, China and Iran said Thursday that Central Asia should be left alone to manage its stability and security _ an apparent warning to the United States to avoid interfering in the strategic, resource-rich region.”
    2.”The declaration earlier this month by Admiral Vladimir Masorin, the commander of the Russian navy, that Moscow intends to re-establish a permanent naval presence in the Mediterranean, is under close scrutiny from Washington to Tel Aviv. While more an aspiration than established fact so far, the move carries myriad, challenging implications, ranging from the US Sixth Fleet’s regional monopoly on naval power to the security of trans-Caucasian and north African energy supply routes.”
    3.”Nevertheless, in spite of these shortcomings, the last couple of years the S.C.O. has taken steps in intensified cooperation in a wide scope of security dimensions. This has occurred to such an extent that development toward a genuine security organization can no longer be excluded, although this still might take a considerable number of years. ”
    In this developing strategic context, is the US-Israeli strategic alliance of any utility or is it counterproductive to US global interests necessitating an “agonizing reappraisal”?
    Meanwhile, the blood and treasure meter is running for the US in Iraq reminding us that international relations are dynamic and not static. Power shifts.

  59. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Update from Afrasiabi per new US policy on IRG:
    “The consensus in Iran is that chaos in Iraq is in Israel’s interests, but not that of the US, and that the United States’ Middle East policy is being held hostage by pro-Israel lobbyists who have painted an enemy image of the dreaded IRGC that is neither accurate nor in tune with the history of US-IRGC interaction.
    The US and the IRGC
    The current noise masks a hidden history of cooperation between the US military and the IRGC – in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and, more and more likely, Iraq….”

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