STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
The Rise of Iran
By Staff News & Analysis - September 21, 2010

Obama to tell Iran during UN: door open to engagement … U.S. President Barack Obama (left) will use his visit to the United Nations General Assembly later this week to emphasize to Iran that the "door is open" to them for international engagement, the White House said on Monday. – Reuters

Dominant Social Theme: Tensions subside …

Free-Market Analysis: Is it jaw-jaw rather than war-war with Iran? Portions of the US military industrial complex obviously want war-war, but the pushback from other US military, intelligence and civilian sectors seem to mitigate its possibility. We remember when it seemed certain that the Bush administration was mustering support among DC elites for a quick and "surgical" strike against Iran. It was a close thing in our opinion, but it didn't happen.

And now it seems the pressure for war has subsided a little. Of course, reading Washington (and Israeli) tea-leaves is difficult – and certainly Israel remains a wild card. But absent war we think we can start to discern the new order of the Middle Eastern landscape.

It does start with Iran of course. It turns out that if Iran is not bombed back to the stone age, the country will continue to do what is has been doing for the past decade, which is to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East. There are basically two sectarian power structures in the Middle East, insofar as we can tell. One is Shia Persia (Iran) and the other Sunni authoritarianism. Saudi Arabia might be considered the epicenter of the latter, just as Iran is the cynosure of the former.

The reason we wish to simplify the Middle East into its two, main sectarian elements is because they may explain a good deal of what is occurring. Iran apparently has not been much hurt thus far by American (Western) sanctions – and in fact sanctions are usually a fairly blunt and ineffective weapon. What Iran HAS been doing is expanding its influence steadily in both Iraq and Afghanistan where it has fairly good relations with Hamid Karzai.

The Western mainstream press does not often delve into the Sunni/Shia split because such details would tend to undermine the larger dominant social theme which is that "Islam is the enemy." A monolithic Islam is a benefit to the West's power elite, which seeks to consolidate wealth and authority in Europe, Britain and America by cultivating an outside threat. As communism does not currently provide the requisite threat, the Muslim threat is being cultivated in our view.

When one moves beyond the rhetorical arguments, the new shape of the Middle East begins to become clearer. The US has apparently already put out feelers to the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban about a peace deal that would include (as we have previously reported) a de facto partition of Afghanistan between North and South – with the Taliban getting the South and the Karzai puppet government remaining in charge in the North.

We're not sure how the five or six wealthy Punjabi families that run Pakistan are going to take to this idea, as a Taliban dominated South might put pressure on Pakistan to carve out a Pashtun homeland as well. But assume for a moment that Pakistan and the Taliban go along with it. The fault lines become still clearer. Pakistan is mostly Sunni and the Taliban is Sunni Wahhabi. Thus we have in Afghanistan a partition between the Sunni/Shia (North) and the Sunni (South). Pakistan and Saudi Arabia become the poles of Sunni Wahhabism and Iraq and Iran become the epicenter of resurgent Shia fundamentalism.

For the Western power elite (from our point of view) it is Mission Accomplished, at least in a certain, limited sense. The Iranian and Taliban strains of Islam are fairly severe (moreso than say Shia Suffism) and between them incorporate a critical mass of perhaps 400 million. While this population is considerably less truculent (in an organized sense) than the erstwhile Soviet Union, it provides the critical mass necessary to generate an "enemy" that the Western mainstream press can continually identify and demonize.

In an era when the truth-telling of the Internet is continually destabilizing the elite's fear-based promotional propaganda, the erection of a believable and even formidable enemy is of great importance from the Western elite's point of view. It provide a rationale for increased authoritarianism, justifies the West's increased use of spy-technologies (which are mostly domestically aimed) and provides a rationale for continued military-industrial spending.

Seen from this point of view, the West's incursions into Iran and Afghanistan become comprehensible at a fundamental level as well. Saddam Hussein's regime was fundamentally a nationalist one, but now with Iran's growing influence in the country, the political structure has been overtaken by religious calculations. The theocratical elements of Iran's Shia revolution have been spread not only into Iraq but also into Afghanistan.

Was this a deliberate outcome? We have our suspicions of course. There is no doubt America under Jimmy Carter destabilized the secular regime of the Shah of Iran. Ruhollah Khomeini, stored in France, was put on plane back to Iran (where he apparently groused to reporters that he much disliked Iranians). This was not surprising either from out point of view as Khomeini's father is reported to have been British intelligence.

What of the wars themselves? We have often argued in these modest pages that the Western power elite seeks to win the wars on which it embarks, and that a loss in Afghanistan will be historically destabilizing to the elite's operations and goals. We believe this to be true. But even if Iraq is controlled by proxy by the Iranians and Afghanistan is partitioned, the Anglo-American axis may still manage to come away with increased influence in both countries (and thus salvage something in defeat). Surely it has generated within Islam a more Westernized model of regulatory democracy – one based on fiat-money and central banking. Both Afghanistan and Iraq currently partake of variants of this economic model.

War is at root a change-making process and the Anglo-American axis will never divulge its real rationale in our view. It has to be divined. One does begin with the idea that the Anglo-American axis seeks Western world government – and then proceeds from there. Perhaps the Persian-Shia resurgence may be seen as conducive to this strategy, as it is easier to deal with a regionalized influence than a balkanized one.

After Thoughts

It is certainly counter-intuitive to argue that the Iraq war ends up being waged to provide Iran with more influence in the region, and certainly we do believe in its arrogance that the elite intended to win the Iraq and Afghanistan wars outright (and has not yet fully given up on either objective). But perhaps the elite may have to settle for a fallback, which includes military occupation of certain bases, proxy politics and increased geopolitical tensions. Sounds strange? As dedicated power-elite meme watchers, we consider almost anything within the realm of possibility these days.

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