Did Bush Blink?
In what can only be described as a breathtaking about face, there are reports that the USA will be establishing limited diplomatic relations with Iran, including sending diplomats to Tehran for the first time in nearly thirty years. The US is also breaking with policy and sending a top diplomat to European talks with Iran. The claim is that we are doing this to show how the USA and Europe are united in their opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, but since the Iranians seem unlikely to agree to our demands at this point, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the USA has blinked in our standoff with Iran.
This isn’t getting much attention in the western press, but I think it’s an important development for a number of reasons. The main one being that if this is true and the USA does send diplomats to Iran, it pretty much signals the end of any attack on Iran by the USA or Israel. I mean, unless Bush is pre-positioning hostages to be seized in the event of hostilities, I can’t imagine American diplomats in Iran as being anything other than the start to normal relations. We made our peace with communist China and Russia, maybe peace with Iran is now around the corner?
And boy, if I was wrong about an attack on Iran, I’m happy to be wrong. It would certainly prove my oft repeated points about how difficult it is to predict the future, and no matter how much ones knows about a topic, a person’s understanding is always limited. Only the profoundly ignorant think they know all the answers about a complex subject like world affairs and foreign relations.
Aside from celebrating stepping back from the abyss, it’s also very curious trying to understand why Bush has suddenly backed down. Granted maybe these reports are exaggerated, and maybe this is some Machiavellian maneuver to get Iran to drop its guard or set it up for some pretext to attack, but for the sake of argument let’s assume Bush has blinked, and that elations with Iran are going to improve. What could have caused this abrupt change?
One of the possibilities is pictured above. Those are reportedly Russian jets now stationed in Armenia, where they act as a deterrent to Turkey…and have been patrolling Iranian airspace at Iran’s request. And Sunday Iran and Russia are signing a comprehensive energy agreement that basically means that Iran will be supplying much of Europe’s natural gas via Russia. The Russians announced some time ago that they would consider an attack on Iran to be an attack on Russia, and they have apparently quietly put their money where their mouth is.
Another possibility is that the rich and powerful may have finally put their foot down and told the Bush administration that there needs to be a diplomatic solution to this problem, because the costs of a war with Iran could be devastating to our already struggling economy. In the final analysis foreign policy is about control of wealth and resources, and national governments usually act in their own selfish interest despite flowery rhetoric about human rights or democracy. I’m not ready for ten dollar a gallon gas, and I’m pretty sure GM isn’t thrilled about the idea either. “What’s good for GM is good for America” may be a truism, but in this case it might be very close to the mark.
Of course, what about Israel? Well, despite their threats, they have also recently begun to do the unthinkable, talk with their enemies. In fact more than that, they have exchanged prisoners with Hezbollah. Hardliners in Israel and elsewhere are apoplectic about this, since Israel exchanged hundreds of prisoners and bodies for two dead Israeli soldiers, but this isn’t about horse trading, it’s about diplomacy. This signals that Israel and Hezbollah can negotiate with each other, and that on some level at least Israel is trying to normalize relations with Lebanon.
Trying to step back and look at the big picture, I suspect that while this is good news simply because the threat of war is receding, it’s bad news for America. In fact some have even suggested that basically this signals surrender in the War on Terror, which is a euphemism for the War for Oil. I think that might be a bit of a stretch, but I do think it signals the beginning of the retreat from the New American Century. The USA is not going to be able to dominate the world, in fact Iraq is likely the high water mark of the American Empire. Could this even be a sign that reality based thinking has finally become fashionable in the Bush administration?
Nah. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image of a Russian Sukhoi Su-30 is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I have no idea who to credit it too, the Russian military? Those are Su-30s and that is Mt Ararat in the background, so I think it’s an authentic photo. Russia is re-emerging as a major regional military, economic, and political power; and yes, we can blame Bush and Mr Clinton for that.)