Reading Through US’ Military Deployment Near Iran – OpEd
The US’ almost ‘sudden’ aggressive military deployment of its massive naval forces including aircraft carriers, bomber aircraft, and anti-missile ‘Patriot Missile’ forces near Iran and in Middle East; and the latest US decision to deploy additional US’ ground troops in Middle East, has created alarm in the world.
The US government claims that it has been done due to some intelligence information that Iran is most likely to take offensive action against US’ interests in the region. However, that US’ claim of a ‘threat from Iran’ is not believed anywhere in the world. Even the Writers Guild of America Award winner Larry Kaplov (1) has expressed his doubt on this claim, in the web article of US’ Washington-based National Public Radio NPR).
In that context it is worth noting that NPR was established by an act of US Congress with most of its member stations owned by government entities; and it serves as a national syndicator to a network of over 1,000 public radio stations in the United States (2). Larry Kaplov has expressed his ‘bewilderment’ that President Trump came to office criticizing US’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and promising to avoid foreign military engagements, yet White House has been talking as if conflict with Iran is ‘suddenly’ on the table; Trump tweeted over the weekend, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” And then Larry Kaplov expresses surprise “But it’s not clear if U.S. officials have evidence that Iran “wants to fight” or why the Pentagon has dispatched additional ships and bombers to the Middle East” (3).
Larry Kaplov is right in his expressed surprise, because factually US’ has not produced any evidence to prove that Iran wants to fight or take any offensive action against US’ interests in the region. From all angles of logical reasoning, therefore, this US’ claim of imminent and dangerous ‘Iranian threat’ cannot be taken anything other than the same blatant falsehood as that of US’ claim of the Iraqi threat of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – which could never be found in Iraq – to fabricate the pretext to attack Iraq (first Gulf War) launched by US’ President Bush along with allies.
In any case, this extremely grave ‘war brinkmanship’ of US requires a very careful analysis of all the related aspects including the background of US’ anti-Iran designs, current US’ military deployments, discerning US’ objectives from this deployment, comparison of US’ (plus Israel) vs. Iran’s military capabilities, possible reaction from European countries, possible reaction from regional countries, and having gauged the reaction of all these countries, US’ most likely intention in light of the ‘Driving Force’ of US’ Policy-Making. Based upon a careful analysis of all these aspects, final inferences can then be drawn.
US’ Anti-Iran Designs
US’ anti-Iran actions date back to the decade of 1950s, when US’ CIA in collaboration with UK’s intelligence agency managed the coup to over throw the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and install the pro-West monarchial government in Iran under Shah (King) Reza Pahlavi. That act of forcing the ‘regime change’ in Iran was “the first United States covert action to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime” (4).
Though the UK government has never declassified its documents relating to this operation some of the declassified US’ CIA documents testify this US’ act of ‘regime change’ in Iran. Even one such document number CO 1384505 is titled “CAMPAIGN TO INSTALL PRO-WESTERN GOVERNMENT IN IRAN”. And, the objective mentioned in that document is, “to effect the fall of the Mossadeq government; and To replace it with a pro-Western government under the Shah’s leadership, with Zahedi as its Prime Minister” (5).
The thus installed monarchial government of Shah Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran in a most repressive manner for 26 years, when in 1979 a popular revolt by Iranian masses over threw his government and an indigenous revolutionary government under Imam Khomeini was established in the country. Since then US’ perception of a ‘threat from Iran’ was based upon the expanding influence of Iran in the Middle East as a ‘competitor’ of Israel.
Subsequently, the various democratically elected Iranian governments focused on Iran’s development, including the development in nuclear energy field. US and its allies perceived that Iran was secretively up to developing nuclear weapon capability – a haunting threat of becoming a ‘nuclear weapon competitor’ of Israel, which was/is the only nuclear weapon holding country in the region. US and EU therefore arranged through UN severe sanctions on Iran to compel Iran to limit its uranium enrichment to non-weapon grade.
As reported by BBC, after years of tension, “In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with a group of world powers known as the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions” (6). That agreement is known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Since then the inspectors of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been conducting the required inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and each time found Iran abiding by the agreement. Based upon IAEA’s certification to that effect, US’ State Department also issued similar certification, even after Donald Trump becoming US’ president. In that context the report by Reuters dated 18 April 2018 quoted US’ Secretary of State Mr. Tillerson: “The U.S. Department of State certified to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan today that Iran is compliant through April 18 with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Tillerson said in a statement (7).
However, Donald Trump who had vowed to pull US out of this agreement even during his election campaign actually did so on 8 May 2018, restarting with sanctions against Iran and the firms/companies of the countries doing business with Iran. That unilateral act of US was obviously without any justifiable reason. Even the Mint Press News – a Minnesota (US)-based news website which aims to increase the American public’s interest in international affairs (8) – published an article on 3 May 2018 titled, “Actually, Iran is Complying With the Agreement but US Isn’t”. The article asserted, “Just last month, the State Department once again issued a report declaring that “Iran continued to fulfill its nuclear-related commitments” under the JCPOA following an ongoing pattern of the State Department even under the watch of Rex Tillerson, who essentially forced Trump to certify Iran’s compliance. Further, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also confirmed Iran’s compliance at least nine times, as have the European partners to the JCPOA and practically the entire EU” (9).
Then, on May 21, 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a list of 12 demands for Iran to comply, or else face severe economic sanctions which would crush Iran economically. Even a cursory look at these extremely aggressive US’ Demands from Iran – which were surely unacceptable to any sovereign country – fully support the title of the article on this issue by Joseph Trevithick (The Drive), i.e. “Pompeo’s 12 Demands For Iran Read More Like A Declaration of War Than A path to peace”. That article contains the list of those US’ demands (10).
Undoubtedly, Iran has economically suffered/still suffering a lot due to the commencement of US’ severe economic sanctions since 6 August and 4 November 2018, yet Iran has not shown any signs of buckling down under US pressure. And now, US has raised the ‘threat’ ante by sending additional military forces to the Arabian Sea and in Middle East.
US’ Immense Military Deployment around Iran
In this context, it is worth taking a note of the immensity of US’ military deployment around Iran. A report in Spunik dated 11 May 2019 has provided some details of that deployment. Following is a brief enumeration of that:
US Navy’s 5th Fleet, has at least 7,000 US troops at its permanent base in Bahrain.
In Kuwait, the US Army’s Central Command has its forward command post, where some 13,000 troops are stationed.
Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates contains 5,000 plus US personnel.
Qatar’s massive Al Udeid Air Base has roughly US 10,000 troops.
US has special forces troops operating in Yemen.
Thousands of US troops are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan (5,200 in Iraq) and 14000 in Afghanistan).
Along with the bases, the US also has access to a large series of smaller ‘cooperative security locations’, also known as ‘lily pads’ with 200 troops or less, as well as access to airfields and ports in countries including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. (Sputnik report has missed out about 2,000 US troops in Syria).
Despite that massive military deployment around Iran and US naval forces in Arabian Sea, Sputnik has reported, “The Pentagon doubled down on the deployment of its carrier strike group on Friday, saying it would beef up its Middle Eastern theatre command’s assets with additional Patriot missile defence batteries, an amphibious assault ship full of Marines and an amphibious dock ship to complement the recently deployed USS Abraham Lincoln and several nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bombers” (11).
Discerning US Objectives
In this context there are many opinions available in publications. However, the much more credible indication about US’ objectives in this case is provided by Bill Van Auken, who is a politician and activist for the Socialist Equality Party and was a presidential candidate in the U.S. presidential election of 2004 (12). In his article published by Global Research dated 15 May 2019, he has asserted, “The issue for the Trump administration, however, has never been the nuclear deal, but rather the drive for regime-change, i.e., the restoration of a US-backed puppet dictatorship in the oil-rich country like that of the Shah”.
And, to authenticate his assertion he has quoted John Robert Bolton the current National Security Advisor of US, “As Bolton, one of the architects of the current military buildup, put it a year before becoming national security adviser:“The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran… The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself” (13).
Bill Van Auken’s assertion matches with the known realities. However, there is a need of adding one clarification to this assertion, i.e. the word ‘mullahs’ used by Bolton was not material in the literal sense; Bolton simply meant the change of the ‘non-pliant’ regime in Iran with a pro-US puppet or pliant regime – after all a much more ‘religion-based’ monarchial government in Saudi Arabia is a close US’ ally in Middle East.
It is therefore more likely that with the continued severe economically hurting sanctions, and with prolonged military intimidating encirclement, US’ objective is to bring Iran to such an extremely adverse economic and psychological state where either the Iranian government becomes unable to bear such economic-military coercion by US and submits to become US-pliant; or the Iranian masses become so much economically and psychologically stressed out that US, through covert methods, may be able to arouse them to rise in revolt and overthrow the current Iranian government and allow installation of a US-puppet government in the country.
In that context the assessment of Ambassador William J. Burns and Jake Sullivan, given in their article published by the US magazine The Atlantic dated 16 May 2019, is worth taking a note of. Ambassador William J. Burns was US’ former Deputy Secretary of State, and Jake Sullivan was the national-security adviser for Vice President Joe Biden, the director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State, and the deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Besides that they are the important ‘knowledge-holders’, as mentioned by them, “We’re the two negotiators who led the secret bilateral talks with the Iranians that paved the way for the interim and comprehensive nuclear deals between Iran and the so-called P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany”. Some extracts of their article which show their assessment as to what has happened and what is expected to happen are:
A year after abandoning the Iran nuclear agreement, President Donald Trump is doubling down on a risky and an ill-fated “maximum pressure” campaign. He’s tried to brand this strategy as a kind of coercive diplomacy, purportedly aimed at an elusive “better deal.” But so far, his strategy is all coercion and no diplomacy. His aggressive escalation of sanctions, the blustery rhetoric of his senior officials, and his administration’s lack of direct engagement with Tehran betray a fundamentally different goal: the capitulation or implosion of the Iranian regime. Painful experience has shown that neither of those objectives is realistic. In the meantime, two sets of risks loom large. The first is the risk of a violent collision, whether intended or unintended.
With American forces and Iranian proxies in tight quarters across Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf, and no direct communications between Washington and Tehran, either side could misjudge or misinterpret the other’s moves.
And should Iran abandon the deal altogether, the odds of conflict will grow larger still.
Now, after more than a year of coercion, with no capitulation or implosion in sight, and no shortage of risks on the horizon, it’s time to take diplomacy seriously again.
A lot is at stake over the coming months. Given the impulses and track record of this administration, it’s hard to be optimistic, and easy to see more trouble ahead. (14).
Comparison of Military Capabilities of US (plus Israel) vs. Iran
In any case what is certain is that if the current state of US’ ‘war brinkmanship’ continues longer, there is high probability of either a direct military clash between US and Iran, or a flare up between the two (accidental, or ‘stage-managed’ by US/Israel) ultimately resulting in the military clash. In the context of a military clash, the comparative military capabilities of US (plus Israel) and Iran have to be taken into consideration.
Very obviously, Iran’s military capabilities are insignificant when compared to those of US, supported by Israel, especially in the high-tech military aspects. However, it also doesn’t mean that Iran wouldn’t be able to inflict serious, or may as well be daunting, damage to its opponent(s).
A clarification of that aspect is also provided by the article of the web publication of RT (Russian International Television Network) dated 14 May 2019. The article quotes Vladimir Sazhin, a senior fellow at the Iran sector of the Oriental Studies Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Foad Izadi, Professor of Political Communication at the University of Tehran.
According to Vladimir Sazhin, “Should it come to blows, Iran’s chances look bleak. Its ground forces can’t stand up to the US’ and allies’, and while it has missiles capable of reaching nearly every American and Israeli base in the region, Israeli missile defenses are good enough to intercept them, and the US has recently bolstered its force of Patriot air defense systems in the area.
One battlefield where the US and its allies could be in for more than they bargained for is the sea, thanks to Iran’s swarms of tiny, fast strike boats known as dhows. Iran has a very significant small-size fleet, belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. These are small boats, very high-speed… which zip around, carrying various weapons, including recoilless rifles and even small missiles. Besides, they are almost invisible to radar thanks to their small size. There are a lot of them – like mosquitoes, they can emerge from bays and inlets, chase down enemy vessels and destroy them”. On his part, Foad Izadi has asserted, “Iran’s other major advantages are morale and resilience” (15).
An article published in the Newsweek dated 14 May 2019 also highlights how despite its military numerical and high-tech inferiority, Iran can inflict serious, or may as well be daunting, damage to its opponent(s) at least in the naval sphere. It explains, “Given its technological inferiority when compared with its U.S. rivals, Iran would have to use asymmetric and stand-off military measures in any effort to close the strait. Naval mines could make the waterway treacherous for commercial and military shipping, funneling enemy vessels into convenient kill zones for Iranian forces. The country’s indigenously built submarines could also harass ships that manage to pick through the minefields. And from the shoreline, Iran’s anti-ship missiles could inflict major damage on U.S. fleets. The Khalij Fars—meaning Persian Gulf—supersonic missile has a range of about 185 miles, is self-guided, and can maneuver during flight to lock onto a moving target. The weapon is relatively cheap, simple and can be deployed in swarm attacks. While U.S. ships have defenses against such weapons, the sheer number of missiles that could be fired would present a huge danger to naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz”. (16)
Another aspect which should not be lost sight of is the fact that various armed militias (many of whom are battle-experienced) which are reportedly affiliated with Iran are spread in different parts of the Middle East. In case of a military clash between US (plus Israel and certain Arab ally/allies of US) and Iran, these militias are more likely to aggressively engage the deployments, bases, and interests of US and its allies throughout the Middle East.
Though their operations are not expected to inflict any ‘defeating damage’ to US and its allies, yet their actions are quite likely to create serious difficulties in the ‘military operating environment’ for US and its allies. And, if we keep in mind the assessment of As’ad Abu Khalil, a Lebanese-American Professor of Political Science at California State University Stanislaus, published by US-based Consortium News dated 21 May 2019, it appears more likely that a longer continuation of US’ sanctions and military intimidation against Iran would create serious problem for US. He has highlighted, “The Iranian regime clearly has limited options available to it —–. But it has some options, nevertheless, especially in the event of military confrontation. Its enemies have been operating on the assumption that the sanctions would either drive the regime to surrender or will lead to a popular revolution, which would end the Islamic regime. Neither of the two scenarios are likely in the foreseeable future, and the regime — if it faces a threat to its survival — will fight ruthlessly (and the Iranian regime has more of a popular base than the Syrian regime)” (17). It can easily be grasped as to how difficult it would be for US and its allies when Iran commences ruthless fighting in tandem with the fierce operations of its affiliated militias against the bases, deployments, and interests of US and its allies throughout the Middle East.
Possible Reactions from European Countries
In the context of European countries’ reaction to the current US’ aggressive military deployments against Iran, the assessment given by Steven Erlanger who is the chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for The New York Times, based in Brussels, provides the clue. In the issue of The New York Times dated 17 May 2019, he has clarified, “With strong memories of the last catastrophic war in Iraq, Europeans are united in opposing what many consider the United States’ effort to provoke Iran into a shooting war. Yet, despite the strains in trans-Atlantic relations in the Trump years, flat-out opposition to Washington remains an uncomfortable place for European nations”.
He has also quoted Kori Schake, a former Pentagon official who is now deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who said that, “Every single European government believes that the increased threat we’re seeing from Iran now is a reaction to the United States leaving the Iran nuclear agreement and trying to force Iranian capitulation on other issues”; and, “They believe that the U.S. is the provocateur and they worry that the U.S. is reacting so stridently to predictable Iranian actions in order to provide a pretext for a U.S. attack on Iran” (18).
The above assessment of Steven Erlanger and Kori Schake is certainly the ground reality. There may be many reasons for the failure of those European countries in taking at least a diplomatic stand against what they themselves believe to be US’ high-handed war mongering against Iran.
However, one of the more probable reasons could be the mutual massive Tran-Atlantic financial/economic ‘entanglement’ of US and EU in terms of mutual trade, FDIs, related jobs, etc. That fact is amply testified by the publication ‘THE TRANS ATLANTIC ECONOMY 2017’, published by American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU), along with Center for Trans Atlantic Relations Johns Hopkins University. In its Executive Summary (page v), it mentions, “Despite transatlantic political turbulence, the U.S. and Europe remain each other’s most important markets. No other commercial artery in the world is as integrated.
Transatlantic gaps in growth, job creation and trade all narrowed in 2016.
The transatlantic economy generates $5.5 trillion in total commercial sales a year and employs up to 15 million workers in mutually “onshored” jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. It is the largest and wealthiest market in the world, accounting for one-third of world GDP in terms of purchasing power.
Ties are particularly thick in foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio investment, banking claims, trade and affiliate sales in goods and services, mutual R&D investment, patent cooperation, technology flows, digital trade, and sales of knowledge-intensive services” (19).
However, dissent voices have also started appearing in Europe. As reported by RT dated 16 May 2019, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen speaking during a joint press conference with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, warned against a major crisis and said “The US’ reckless maximum pressure campaign against Tehran and nations dealing with it is deeply provocative and hurts international relations”. He also “slammed the US sanctions against Iran by saying that such policies “do not help international relations” and only erode the system of global treaties” (20).
Possible Reactions from Regional Countries
Besides Israel – the ‘linchpin’ US’ ally in Middle East – the generally known Arab countries allied to US in that region are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, since many months US has also been trying to form an anti-Iran strategic alliance in the Middle East (MESA) involving a number of Arab countries in the region. That alliance is also often termed as “anti-Iran Arab NATO”. But reports on that issue have been reflecting difficulties in the formation of that alliance.
The latest amongst many reports on the subject is a more explanatory report dated 23 May 2019 published by teleSUR – a Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. It reports, “The U.S. president insists on promoting a Middle-East military alliance by summoning Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain. —–. So far, however, the alliance has not been successful due to discrepancies among GCC countries over Washington’s stance on Iran. While Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain defend a hard-line policy, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman want to improve relations with the Islamic Republic (of Iran). Additionally, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi announced in April that his country, which has the largest army in the region, will not participate in the U.S. military initiative”.
The report also quotes Antonio Abreu, a Portuguese research journalist, “In practice, it would be a Sunni-Jewish alliance against the Shiites … its real objective would be to prevent Russian and Chinese influence in the region” (21).
So, while Qatar, Kuwait and Oman want to improve relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and are not expected to be supportive of US’ aggression against Iran, Egypt has also refused to be part of anti-Iran alliance. And, to add further to US’ difficulties, according to a report by RT dated 16 May 2019, Haidar Mansour Hadi, the Iraqi envoy to Russia, at a press conference in Moscow, when asked about Iraq’s stance on the rising tensions in the region fueled by the feud between Washington and Tehran, told journalists “Iraq is a sovereign nation. We will not let [the US] to use our territory” (22).
US’ Most Likely Intention, in light of the ‘Driving Force’ of US’ Policy-Making
To ascertain US’ most likely intention relating to this aggressive deployment against Iran, despite these unfavourable responses from many European and Middle Eastern counties, we have to have a proper grasp of the ‘driving force’ of US’ policy-making relating to Israel. Factually, there are four complementary aspects of that driving force.
First is the importance of religious beliefs in US policy making – the details of that aspect can be read in the two related sections of my article “Latent Aspects of US Withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Agreement: Discerned Realities” (23), published in Eurasia Review dated 07 June 2018. This being a very significant aspect, some of the facts mentioned in those two sections deserve brief enumeration here: (a) the book titled ‘The Faith of Donald J. Trump A Spiritual Biography’ by David Brody, Scott Lamb in its introductory note highlights the religious beliefs and worldview of Donald J. Trump and his advisors. It mentions that Donald J. Trump was raised as a Presbyterian (i.e. belonging to Protestant Church) and has praised both Christianity and the primacy of the Bible; and in the Oval Office, he has surrounded himself with close advisors who share his deep faith (24); (b) the paper published by Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research (US) highlights, “Religion has played a major role in shaping political leadership, the presidency, and presidential elections throughout U.S. history. Because of this, presidential candidates have long recognized the importance of emphasizing religious beliefs in order to elicit support from major religious groups.
Since the 1970’s, evangelical Protestants have positioned themselves as one of the most impactful religious voting blocs, and Trump received about 80 % of Evangelicals’ vote (25) – evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity, it forms a quarter of US nation’s population, and is politically important (26); (c) about Christian Zionism, Donald Wagner, Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University in Chicago and executive director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, wrote his commentary titled ‘An Historical Account of Christian Zionism’.
According to him Christian Zionism is a movement within Protestant fundamentalism that sees the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. Christian Zionists work closely with the Israeli government, religious and secular Jewish Zionist organizations. Both the secular and religious media place Christian Zionism in the Protestant evangelical movement (27); (d)
About US’ Vice President Mike Pence a detailed article by Paul Rogers, Professor in the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, UK, titled ‘Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection’, has been published in a UK-based political website ‘Open Democracy’. It mentions that Mike Pence embraced a markedly evangelical perspective at college and has maintained that faith orientation ever since. It includes a particularly strong Christian Zionist perspective.
Besides that, the article highlights, that Mr. Pence is the first sitting Vice President of US who delivered a key note address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel, which is one of the two most powerful groups of Christian Zionists which are linked to the pro-Israel lobby. In that context Professor Donald Wagner also quotes the scholar Daniel G Hummel, “Christian Zionism has a long history in American politics, but it has never captured the bully pulpit of the White House. Past administrations often used the biblical language in reference to Israel, but never has the evangelical theology of Christian Zionism been so close to the policy making apparatus of the executive branch” (28); and (e) an article by Tara Isabella Burton, who holds a doctorate in Theology from the University of Oxford, has been published by Vox – an American website.
That article succinctly clarifies the connection with Israel of US’ Evangelicals / Christian Zionists, led by Donald Trump (and Mike Pence). It highlights, “Many evangelical speakers and media outlets compare Trump to Cyrus, a historical Persian king who, in the sixth century BCE, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian captivity, a period during which Israelites had been forcibly resettled in exile. This allowed Jews to return to the area now known as Israel and build a temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus is referenced most prominently in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in which he appears as a figure of deliverance”. “That comparison has become more and more explicit in the wake of Trump’s presidency. Last week, an Israeli organization, the Mikdash Educational Center, minted a commemorative “Temple Coin” depicting Trump and Cyrus side by side, in honor of Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem” (29).
Second aspect is the almost dominating strength of Israeli lobby in US’ policy- making. In that context, in the afore-mentioned article ‘Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection’, Professor Paul Rogers has also clarified, “To talk about the power of the “Jewish lobby” in the United States is actually misleading when the more correctly described “Israel lobby” wields far more electoral power thanks to its reinforcement by Christian Zionists” (30).
Besides that, Professor John J. Mearsheimer of University of Chicago and Professor Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University have published a very detailed paper titled ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’ in the publication of Middle East Policy Council Fall 2006. The authors have highlighted the extra-ordinary weightage which the Israel Lobby has in US’ policy-making. In that context they have asserted, “The U.S. national interest should be the primary object of American foreign policy. For the past several decades, however, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, a recurring feature — and arguably the central focus — of U.S. Middle East policy has been its relationship with Israel.
The combination of unwavering U.S. support for Israel and the related effort to spread democracy throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the United States adopted policies that jeopardized its own security in order to advance the interests of another state? —— Instead, the overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due primarily to U.S. domestic politics and especially to the activities of the “Israel lobby.” Other special-interest groups have managed to skew U.S. foreign policy in directions they favored, but no lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical” (31).
Third aspect is the strong influence, and it’s ‘war mongering leverage’, which the US’ Military Industrial Complex wields in US’ policy-making process. Jonathan Turley who is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University has published a detailed article to highlight that aspect.
He begins his article by reminding the US public that, “In January 1961, US President Dwight D Eisenhower used his farewell address to warn the nation of what he viewed as one of its greatest threats: the military-industrial complex composed of military contractors and lobbyists perpetuating war”. In his detailed article he asserts, “The core of this expanding complex is an axis of influence of corporations, lobbyists, and agencies that have created a massive, self-sustaining terror-based industry”. —– “The new military-industrial complex is fuelled by a conveniently ambiguous and unseen enemy: the terrorist”. And in that context he also clarifies, “A massive counterterrorism system has been created employing tens of thousands of personnel with billions of dollars to search for domestic terrorists”. —– “Hundreds of billions of dollars flow each year from the public coffers to agencies and contractors who have an incentive to keep the country on a war-footing – and footing the bill for war”.
In his article he has also given certain details of the huge expenditures paid from US’ taxpayers money to the Military Industrial Complex – “in the last eight years, trillions of dollars have flowed to military and homeland security companies. When the administration starts a war like Libya, it is a windfall for companies who are given generous contracts to produce everything from replacement missiles to ready-to-eat meals”(32).
Professor Jonathan Turley’s assertions have not taken long in getting proven – according to report by Reuters dated 24 May 2019, “U.S. President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, swept aside objections from Congress on Friday to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan” (33) – so the business as usual in on! US’ President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about the threat of the Military Industrial Complex ‘perpetuating war’ has therefore come true.
Fourth aspect is the strong-headedness of the US’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US’ National Security Adviser John Bolton, both being the ‘hawks’, especially against Iran.
In view of these very important aspects of US’ policy-making where the issue also involves Israel, it appears that despite the unfavourable responses from many European and regional countries, US is more likely to continue with its current aggressive military deployment, along with the severe sanctions, against Iran at least in the current timeframe.
The very recent offers of President Bush for Iran’s leadership to talk to him on phone, and by Secretary of State Pompeo for an unconditional dialogue on the issue with Iran are merely the gimmicks mainly for the consumption of US’ public. In fact US government has reflected no signs of ‘re-thinking’ about its current anti-Iran design. In all probability, therefore, US is bent upon continuing with its current aggressive military deployment, along with the severe sanctions, against Iran – albeit under the umbrella of such offers of ‘peace’, despite the fact that not only world public at large but also the saner elements of US’ public would not ‘buy’ these ‘camouflaged’ offers as genuine peace offers.
Although Iranian government and public are not showing any signs of wearing down under US’ pressure, yet at least US’ Military Industrial Complex is seeing signs of success in its strategy of frightening certain Arab countries with the ‘Iran threat’ to the extent of compelling them to buy US’ military arms and equipment – President Trump’s declaration of emergency and sale of $8 billion worth of weapons to those countries, to start with. That is almost an ‘action replay’ of the massive US’ military sales to Saudi Arabia after showing the ‘Saddam threat’ during the first Gulf War. This aspect also supports the probability of continuation of the current US’ aggressive posture against Iran.
The current US’ huge military deployment against Iran has already created an atmosphere of instability in the region, and any military flare up/clash will completely destabilise the whole region including west and south Asia too. But, creation of de-stability also suits US’ objectives of getting an excuse to deploy its military in the region, as also the business of US’ Military Industrial Complex. This is another aspect supporting the probability of US’ continuation of it aggressive deployment against Iran.
However the US planning makers, probably under the influence of their over-confidence, are committing a serious mistake in overlooking an extremely important ground reality, i.e. the case of Iran is absolutely different from the cases of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. All those countries had the weakness of internal divisibility which was exploited by US/NATO – internal ethnic divisibility (Pashtun vs. Tajik and allies) in the case of Afghanistan, tribal divisibility in the case of Libya, and sectarian divisibility in the case of Iraq and Syria. In the case of Iran the Iranian nation is one solid united force, those who understand the psyche of Iranian nation acknowledge the fact that every Iranian is a staunch Iranian first, and a religious or liberal person secondarily. US cannot therefore play the ‘game’ of divide and defeat in the case of Iran.
Additionally, the Iranian nation has a historical national elan/pride from the background of their about 2,500 years of history – in the medieval period theirs’ was one of the two super powers (Persian Empire), the other being the Roman Empire. That national elan has ingrained in their psyche the extreme degree of fighting spirit and resilience. They can hardly be expected to surrender. Probably it is with this reality in mind that, as mentioned earlier in this article, Professor As’ad Abu Khalil of California State University has warned that, “the (Iranian) regime — if it faces a threat to its survival — will fight ruthlessly (and the Iranian regime has more of a popular base than the Syrian regime” (34).
Besides that, in case of any military flare up/ clash between US and Iranian forces, not only the earlier mentioned Iranian fleet of tiny fast speed missile carrying boats which are difficult to be traced by radar due to their very small size, and the supersonic self-guided Khalij Fars missiles, can inflict serious losses to the US’ naval forces; but also the widespread Iran-affiliated battle-experienced and quite well-armed militias can inflict considerable losses to the bases, deployments, and interests of US, Israel, and US’ Arab ally/allies.
The important point in this case is that Iranian nation, during the eight years war with Iraq, has proven its mettle not only in ruthless fighting but also in its national resilience in continuing to fight ruthlessly despite immense human and material losses. However, if and when certain US naval ships (aircraft carrier, others) are sunk along with the onboard sailors/marines by the Iranians and certain bases/deployments etc of US and Israel are inflicted serious human/material damage by a combination of Iranian missiles and the operations of the militias, it will not only be a very major ‘loss of face’ for US being the super power, but also the US’ public is more likely to refuse accepting any more human losses of their kith and kin, compelling its government to beat a retreat – it should not be forgotten that very recently the US President and his hawks were threatening North Korea to be ‘devastated’, but when North Korea conducted a proven test of an intercontinental ballistic missile which had the range to reach merely the western part of US, the US President immediately withdrew from the ‘devastation threatening’ rhetoric and switched to ‘friendly talks’.
(17). https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/21/the-angry-arab-irans-military-options/ (Hereinafter cited as Iran’s Military Options)
(27). https://thebridgelifeinthemix.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/[email protected]
(28). https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/trump-pence-jerusalem-christian-zionism-connection/ (Hereinafter cited as Trump-Pence-Jerusalem-Christian-Zionism-Connection)
(30). Trump-Pence-Jerusalem-Christian-Zionism-Connection, op.cit.
(34). Iran’s Military Options. op. cit.