U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (left) says he hopes strong international sanctions on Iran will forestall the need for a military strike designed to end the country's chances of developing a nuclear weapon. Gates spoke in Paris, where he and his French counterpart Herve Morin agreed it is time for sanctions after months of diplomatic overtures from the West have not had any impact on Iranian leaders. Secretary Gates is working with allies to develop an effective sanctions regime targeting Iran's government, while having minimal impact on its people. U.S. officials say they hope to bring a resolution to the U.N. Security Council this month, while France holds the rotating presidency. – VOA News
Dominant Social Theme: Mustn't let them have the bomb.
Free-Market Analysis: The trouble with sanctions is that they often provoke the very wars they supposedly are intended to avoid. When the US slapped sanctions on Japan before the Second World War, Japan responded with a good deal more aggressiveness perhaps than US planners had expected. Here's how Wikipedia puts it:
On August 1941, the crisis came to a head as the United States, which at the time supplied 80% of Japanese oil imports, initiated a complete oil embargo. This threatened to cripple both the Japanese economy and military strength once the strategic reserves would run dry. Faced with the choice of either trying to appease the U.S., negotiate a compromise, find other sources of supply or go to war over resources, Japan chose the last option. Hoping to knock out the U.S. for long enough to be able to achieve and consolidate their war-aims, the Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. They mistakenly believed they would have about a two year window to consolidate their conquests before the United States could effectively respond and that the United States would compromise long before they could get anywhere near Japan. (-Wikipedia)
We read here that the proximate cause of Japan's initial military activities against America was the US embargo. When bellicose regimes are pushed into a corner they often strike back – or so it seems to us. But then again perhaps that is the point of such sanctions. While the US may not wish to throw the first punch, there are probably those in the White House and Pentagon who are not averse to throwing a second or third. Sarah Palin herself seemed to indicate as much recently in widely reported remark that Barack Obama could in a sense salvage his administration through an Iranian military action.
We're not quite so sure as Palin that a new war would energize Barack Obama or his failing political effort. We think he may feel he has quite enough on his plate. The American mainstream media has gone quiet on Iraq, but if one scrutinizes the reporting coming out of Iraq it is easy to see that country has not become a bastion of Democratic tranquility. And with national elections coming up, one wonders if the relative calm (which isn't very calm) will hold at all. Afghanistan is more chaotic than ever meanwhile, with the US and allied troops readying for a big offensive. Yemen is yet another front that seems to have been opened and Pakistan itself is subject to US undeclared military actions to harass the Taliban.
Add Iran to the above mix and you've definitely created the beginnings not of a series of local or regional military actions but of a kind of nascent world war pitting the West against Muslims both Shia and Sunni. All because it has been declared by the bureaucratic and political leadership of the West (especially America, Britain and Israel as usual) that Iran's possession of nuclear weapons is simply untenable. Why this should be the case we don't know. There are plenty of nuclear weapons in the world and the idea that Iran is going to act more responsibly or irresponsibly with them seems not to be sensible.
War is a racket, General Smedley Butler said, and we tend to believe that this entire 10-year arc of actions against various Middle East entities and enemies is indeed a power elite meme – one long, building promotion. Yes, that's our position: The "war on terror" is (at least partially) just one more scam designed to drain the wallets and confidence of the Anglo-American middle class while justifying additional repressive domestic measures to circumvent traditional Western freedoms. Democracy in the Middle East, so far as we can tell, is just some sort of afterthought. The war is aimed in large part at you, dear Western reader, not some fellow squatting in a cave.
We know that more than a few libertarians and free-market thinkers are gloomy, even terrified, over an escalation of hostilities in the Middle East. But we prefer to see it once more as a symptom of the weakness of the power-elite rather than a confident strategy implemented with a surety of success. These wars, serial or concentrated, worked far better pre-Internet, so far as we are concerned. Of course, we don't want to absolve Iran, or the terrible Iranian regime, which is currently threatening to "shock" the West on the upcoming anniversary of its Islamic revolution. But in fact, the military tensions probably pay into the hands of oppression, no matter where it resides.
We can't say how things will turn out regarding Iran, but we wonder if it will be as terrible as it now appears. Perhaps it will backfire and escalation this time will result in more dramatic calls for peace. There is turmoil in Iran, too – and there is no surety that what appears to be a steadily escalating conflict will end up that way. At some point, people may simply signal that they have had enough. This is perhaps more likely in an era of intensive communication such as the one we have now. People can see and read what is going on. They are less likely to act purely on instinct, or be swayed by nationalism
The more such wars – "military actions" – escalate in fact the more questions are raised. And in an era of electronic communications the questions remain, indelibly codified, stored and re-presented as necessary. The Internet era is the era of ultimate information retention and recycling. Some see it as an endless and increasingly repressive loop. But it works both ways. And actually the pressure ultimately resides with the mass of citizenry not professional intelligence agents. That is in fact why the questions about 9/11 itself have not gone away but continue to build as the years move on. Unlike the 20th century, time is on the side of those who want to get to the bottom of things, not those who don't.
In fact, the Gutenberg press' arrival seems to have ushered in a string of wars (irregular and of varying temperatures), starting nearly 500 years ago, some of which lasted 100 years or more (shades of Dick Cheney?). Yet the wars did very little to derail the larger epiphanies derived from the increased information generated by the wide circulation of books. In other words, hostilities had little effect on the larger enlightenment and the general progress of society and expansion of freedom. The power elite doubtless fumed but had to take a step back. The human condition improved dramatically and the "dark ages" were vitiated. So … some speak of coming dark ages, but we see them lifting.
NOTED: Sen. Lindsey Graham (left) thinks putting a price on carbon is the key to generating American jobs. … How can the energy market scale up technologies that don't pump copious quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? Put a price on carbon that sends those markets a price signal that burning carbon-rich fuels, including coal and oil, have economic, environmental, and national security costs that energy prices today don't communicate. With that price signal in place, the market would open up for low-carbon alternatives – efficiency and renewables, for example – the development of which would create jobs, seed new industries, and lower demand for oil. The price signal is the linchpin of the deal that the tripartisan trio of Senators Lindsey Graham, John Kerry, and Joe Lieberman are attempting to negotiate. – The Green Conservative … (Ed Note: As a matter of truth-in-advertising we want to make clear that we are not big fans of Lindsey Graham who always puts us in mind of Uriah Heep. His attempt to legislate away carbon pollution – whatever that is – is disheartening. We hope his endless obsession with "bipartisan compromise" as regards this elite promotion ends in failure.)
Investors, there is a bet to be made, if you are so inclined. Do you expect companies embedded in the American or British military-industrial complex to be as successful and profitable in the next ten years as they have been for the past decade? We're not so sure. We think the power elite is going to end up losing at least some control over its war-making machinery, much as it has recently lost control of the global warming meme. Yes, that sounds ludicrous, but we are merely observing which way the society is trending – and the trend is your friend, they say.